In this interview, the First Lady of Imo State, Chioma Uzodimma, who was actively engaged at the just concluded two-day APC 2022 National Women Conference including participating in the panel discussion with the theme: “Giving Voice to Women’s Visibility: Our Support”, spoke on her takeaways from the conference.
*What have you used your office to attract for Imo women?*
Since the inception of the administration of my dear husband, His Excellency, Governor Hope Uzodimma, my office together with the Ministry of Women Affairs and Vulnerable Groups have been working collaboratively to ensure that Imo women and their families are not left out in policy formulation. In this short period, we’ve been able to achieve quite a bit in the following areas: Capacity building for our women through advocacy, sensitizations/seminars and workshops; Empowerment programmes such as skills acquisition, entrepreneurship and business startups training for Imo women; We’ve been able to conceptualize and design programmes that advance the women generally; my office also worked tirelessly with Women Affairs to advocate for bills to be signed into law. The bill to tackle all forms of Gender Based Violence (GBV) such as the Violence Against Persons Prohibition (VAPP) Act bill was signed into law in Imo State by my dear husband, on the 15th of December, 2021 and the Domestication of the Child Rights Law in Imo State since 2004.
I believe that politics and good governance can only be achieved with the involvement of women. His Excellency Governor Hope Uzodimma, being a man that believes in gender equality, has done his best by including women in his 3R administration.
Our Imo women occupy quite a number of political positions such as: one in the Federal House of Representatives, two in the Imo State House of Assembly, five Commissioners in Imo State including Ministry of Finance, Special Advisers to the Governor, Imo State, Senior Special Assistants and Director Generals in establishments. The First Female Chief Judge of Imo State was appointed by my husband’s 3R administration and a host of other female members in the Imo State judiciary. Will continue to support my husband’s administration while pushing for more inclusion of not just women but also youths and people living with disability.
*How can women be encouraged to increase their participation in politics? And, what concrete changes are you making to improve women’s visibility as a First Lady?*
Women need to learn to speak up in order to make their intentions known. We must address these causal factors. We must always remember that a shut mouth is a shut destiny, so we women need to speak up. As a party (APC), we should make tickets for certain political aspirants quite affordable. (I am sure even our men would not mind cheaper political tickets too). Most female candidates or aspirants are often scared to make their ambitions known. This could be because of fear of rejection, lack of adequate funding, and fear of “a better male candidate”.
However, I am not the party chairman, neither am I in the hearts of Imo women (laughs). From the cabinet of Governor Hope Uzodimma, it is quite obvious that APC as a great party, encourages women to vie for political offices.
The leadership of the Imo APC welcomes all sitting and aspiring female politicians who would love to get re-elected or contest under the APC, respectively. But for any candidate who has gathered financial support and intends to run for office in Imo State, please and please, do not hesitate to reach out to my office and I in turn can play an advisory role, endorse campaigns and even show up to rally meetings. I could also involve other women who have occupied positions and have done excellently well both in our state and in the Diaspora. I believe in women organizing for the common good and national development and I intend to do more in this area. It is time women stopped agonizing and start organizing for their emancipation be it in political , economic and social development.
*What were the takeaways from the first progressive women’s conference?
As always, I believe in everything that supports, encourages, and provides for women and the first ever progressive women’s conference reminded me that I am not alone in my search for creating something sustainable. The action plans shared at the conference encouraged me to keep working hard and looking forward to a future where gender wars will no longer be a thing. My key takeaway would be, there’s power in our numbers. No matter how little we might be, there is so much we can do that will make a lasting impression for decades. This is the first time we are meeting as Progressive Nigeria women in one voice and commitment to setting the position of women in matters of national importance, especially in increasing the visibility of women, positioning women for future political offices, and encouraging them to aspire more towards the progress of our great party. I love every bit of the conference and I’ll do my part to contribute to the set objectives and our communique.
*What have you learned from your sister’s First Ladies that you are applying to in your state?*
Every state has its unique challenges and my sisters, the First Ladies, have created and executed various brilliant strategies to overcome their challenges and ensure residual benefit reaching a lot of women. We believe the best we can do for anyone is to educate them or empower them. We have spent the last few years investing in, educating our women and establishing them. The result has been the improvement of so many families and healthy lives across our states. Our goal now is to ensure we reach as many of our women as we can.
*How are you combining your roles as wife, mother, and First Lady of your state?*
I don’t think it is physically possible to take on many roles or be many people. God himself gave us two hands so we could learn the importance of being in a mini-community, no matter how small. So first, I would say God gives me the grace to wake up every day and oversee my team. Second, my husband encourages me to be all the many things I can be, no pressure, just encouragement. After all, we can only be as good as the people we have around us. Lastly, I would say I have the best people around me. Each of my team members is dependable and is constantly pushing to make things easy for us all.
*How do you relax in the midst of all these?*
I find my work in all these roles quite relaxing. I enjoy taking care of my home, my family, and the people around me. For me, I find my busy schedule fulfilling, and once I feel fulfilled, I relax.