By G9ija

The Minister of Women Affairs, Mrs Pauline Tallen has lauded efforts of Defence and Police Officers Wives Association (DEPOWA) in empowering widows and children of Nigeria’s fallen heroes.

Tallen gave the commendation at the graduation of Batch 10 trainees of DEPOWA Skills Acquisition Centre (DSAC) in Abuja on Tuesday.

She commended the vision of the President of DEPOWA, Mrs Vickie lrabor, for taking the initiative of looking out to give the widows and orphans of the fallen heroes, a new lease of life through skills training.

The minister pledged that the ministry would continue to partner the association in the realisation of its goal of women empowerment as enshrined in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

According to her, empowerment of our women and children, especially the girl child holds the key to national development.

“No doubt, an empowered woman adds value to her household and is able to live above the daily hurdles of life.

“Skill is the most valuable asset in life that can never be stolen and will help you in every aspect of life,” she said.

Tallen urged the beneficiaries to take the acquired skills seriously, adding that vocational skill was among one of the most important skills that one must have to be able to earn extra income.

She said the COVID-19 pandemic was a defining moment that had taught society that an additional skill was important to cope with the changing times.

Tallen also urged the leadership of DEPOWA to also consider raising the bar to recognise the changing needs of women and young girls from the traditional vocational programmes to the male dominated sphere.

She said there was need for the female folks to venture into areas such as generator-set repairs, Air conditioning set repairs, plumbing, tiling and masonry among others.

She said the National Centre for Women Development had introduced the flagship female artisanship project, to build up a new generation of skilled female artisans to provide skilled female workforce for the construction industry.

“I will suggest that you work with the director-general of the center to also model these trainings in your organisation, as well as enhance quality of the certificates issued at the end of your trainings.

“With what I have seen, I want to assure the DEPOWA president that henceforth, we will carry them along in the ministry’s programmes and trainings,” she said.

The Chief of Defence Staff, Gen. Lucky Irabor commended DEPOWA for the initiative to empower widows and less privileged among members of the armed forces.

Irabor pledged to continue to provide the needed support to continue to empower more, by giving them opportunity to have a means of livelihood and contribute to the society.

He urged the beneficiaries to put into good use, the starter packs that had been provided for them to be able to help their immediate families and add value to employment generation for the larger society.

“We have always been supporting DEPOWA and widows of our fallen heroes and we will continue to do so,” he said.

Earlier, the president of DEPOWA said the association had successfully trained 40 beneficiaries in the batch 10 of its Skill Acquisition Centre (DSAC).

She said the military lifestyle had imposed unique challenges for its families, ranging from long separations, frequent moves, inconsistent training schedules, late nights, physical and mental trauma and in extreme cases, death.

The DEPOWA president said the association was formed to ameliorate impact of the challenges, support and enhance quality of life for every military family through advocacy, innovative programs, dynamic and responsive solutions.

She said graduation of the 40 trainee widows and vulnerable youths of the fallen heroes was in line with DEPOWA’s mandate to empower the vulnerable in the society.

According to her, they have been trained in different vocations such as fashion designing, catering, hair dressing, make-up and Gele-tying, barbing, production, computer studies and bead stringing.

“ The beneficiaries were paid stipends for transportation to school during the training and accommodation was also provided as part of our support for the graduating class today.

“We have provided starter packs for the various trades, for example set of pots, oven, cylinder, cake mixer, coolers, baking pens etc for catering, weaving machine, sewing machine and mannequin for fashion designing, standing hair dryer, hand hair dryer, tonging machine and generator set among other things.

“The beneficiaries also got cash for payment of one year shop rents, ” she said.