IWD 2017: Women Clamour For More Gender Inclusive World

IWD 2017: Women Clamour For More Gender Inclusive WorldNigerian women have reiterated their clamour for gender equality, women empowerment, as well as their active participation in political, economic, social and cultural life.

This was the general consensus at a panel discussion in commemoration of the 2017 International Women’s Day held on March 8.

The discussion, themed: Women In Leadership: Be Bold For Change, brought together women in various industries such as the C.E.O Fine and Country, Udo Okonjo; Legal Adviser, Toke Benson; C.E.O Social Media Week, Obi Osika; Actress, Omotola Jalade; and even the British High Commissioner, Paul Arkwright among others.

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British High Commissioner, Paul Arkwright

Encouraging other women, some of the guests agreed on the notion that women must rise up to their roles and their commitment to making a change rather than waiting around to be served positions.

Also addressing the notion that women are their own worst enemies, some argued that a woman might be her own worst enemy by not stepping up to her rights and roles with boldness.

Mr Okonja, however disagreed with the ideology, insisting that on the contrary, a lot of women especially in recent times, have begun supporting themselves, while making reference to programmes such as the Women in Management, Business and Public Service (WIMBIZ) and She Leads Africa, among others.

She also opined that in changing the narrative of how women are perceived as against men, the men have to be engaged in such a way that they stopped seeing women as threats or simply not as good as the men.

According to her, women bring something new and different to the table and they possess a number of unique qualities such as intuitiveness and the ability to multi task which makes them just as good as the men.

The Deputy British High Commissioner, Laure Beaufils, said although much progress has been made on all fronts, much more still has to be done.

She therefore urged women to get out their comfort zones; saying that though they may feel the fear, they should do what they have to do regardless.

Beaufils, while advocating legislative change, also encouraged that sons, not just daughters, must be educated in order for the nation to experience real change.

Counting some of the progress made in educating the girl child, the Borno State Commissioner for Education, Ahmed Babawo, revealed that 110 women are currently studying medical sciences in Sudan.

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Omotala Jalade Ekeinde

Also speaking on the efforts towards helping persons, especially women with disability, Toke Benson, assured women living with disability that the Lagos state government is making conscious efforts to that effect.

As part of efforts in contribution to helping women and the general population of the girl child, Omotola in conjunction with her ONE campaign, resolved to get every girl off the streets and into schools as soon as possible.

Northern Leaders Lament Poor State Of Region

Sultan of Sokoto, Sa'ad Abubakar, Shettima, Borno, Northern Leaders, Northern NigeriaPolitical and traditional leaders from the northern part of the Nigeria are lamenting the deplorable state of the region, arising from insecurity, poverty and a downward plunge from its respected position of influence in the country.

The leaders made their position known on Monday in Kaduna state at the annual Pan Northern Summit of Leaders and Elders of the region organised by the Northern Elders Forum.

Speakers at the conference including the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Saad Abubakar and Borno State Governor, Kashim Shettima, relived the unity and oneness of the people of the North in the past, saying that the fragmentation that currently exists among the people is responsible for insecurity and backwardness of the region.

Organisers of the summit believe it is time for leaders of the region to come together and address these challenges that have put them behind other regions.

Shettima, Borno, Northern Leaders, Northern NigeriaIn an emotion-laden speech, Governor Kashim Shettima of Borno state said that the current security challenges in the Northeast and particularly Borno State, where over 50,000 women have been turned to widows by insurgents, calls for serious concern not just from the citizens of the affected states but from Nigerians in general.

The Governor announced that Boko Haram has been largely contained that they no longer pose any security threat to the corporate existence of Nigeria.

He identified key areas which the northern leaders must address to overcome these challenges. They include poverty reduction through agriculture, job creation, reviving the education sector and gender equality.

Blessed with large land mass and population size, as well as abundant mineral deposits, participants at the summit agreed that northern Nigeria has no reason to be poor.

According to them, the way forward is for the people and the leaders to go back to the visions and dreams of the founding fathers whose tenure brought about unity and development of the region in the past.

Gender Equality Bill Passes Second Reading At Senate

Senate, Gender Equality BillA modified version of the Gender Equality Bill has passed through the crucial second reading on the floor of the Senate.

The bill is a proposal which seeks to eliminate all forms of discrimination against women in Nigeria.

It suffered a humiliating fate at its first introduction a few months earlier as some male lawmakers strongly opposed the bill.

They noted that enacting a law to accord women equal rights with men was in conflict with the country’s religious and cultural beliefs.

However, the bill was sponsored on Thursday by a member of the chamber from Ekiti State, Senator Biodun Olujimi, at the National Assembly.

Senator Olujimi expressed hope that the bill, when passed, would ensure the elimination of discrimination against women in education, employment, profession and occupation.

She added that it would also prohibit all forms of violence against women irrespective of their religion or ethnicity.

The lawmaker stated that Section 4 of the bill prohibits all forms of discrimination against any person on account of gender, age and disability through spoken words, acts, rules, customs and practices by any person or institution.

She expressed hope that it would receive favorable responses from her colleagues as her Lagos counterpart, Oluremi Tinubu, supported the move.

Contributing to the debate, the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, advised the Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters to examine the bill closely to make sure its provisions do not conflict with existing laws.

However, the Chief Whip, Senator Olusola Adeyeye, disagreed with the Deputy Senate President.

The bill has been referred to the Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters for further legislative work.

The committee has been directed to present a report on the bill in four weeks.

Buhari Meets Lagos Women, Promises Gender Equality In Nigeria

Buhari for womenThe Presidential candidate of the opposition party, All Progressives Congress (APC), General Muhammadu Buhari has promised to implement the 2005 National Gender Policy, to ensure gender equality for Nigerian women.

Buhari, who said this at an interactive session with women from different walks of life, in Lagos, South-west Nigeria, further urged the women to vote out the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and its candidate, President Goodluck Jonathan in the forthcoming elections.

Top on the list of the promises he made was that gender would be “mainstreamed throughout all government commitments”, in key areas including economy, education, health, security, power, agriculture.

He also promised that the 2005 National Gender Policy “which serves as a road map for promotion of women empowerment and gender equality” will be implemented, noting that the current government had no political will to implement the critical framework.

He also said the promotion of anti-discrimination legislations and women’s rights would afford women equality and equity in several sectors of the economy.

During the question and answer session, some of the women raised several issues including employment opportunities for women and youths, domestic violence, support for the fashion industry, opportunities for women in government, the state of education in the country, affordable housing, cultism in schools, lack of structure in Nollywood, free health care, child marriage etc.

While addressing their concerns, Buhari stressed on the need to ensure stability in the power sector to ensure that entrepreneurs’ business grow, as well as strengthen the naira, which had fallen in value since the oil slump in 2014.

Buhari also addressed concerns about the Chibok schoolgirls, noting that it was an evidence of incompetence “If about 220 children (girls) of ages between 14 and 18 were removed from a single environment and for about a year the government could not secure them”.

Notable APC members at the event were Bola Tinubu, Lagos state governor, Raji Fashola, Lagos APC governorship candidate, Akinwunmi Ambode, Rivers State governor, Rotimi Amaechi, Honourable Abike Dabiri, wife of former Ekiti governor, Mrs Bisi Fayemi, Edo SSG, Patrick Obahiaghon, Deputy Governors of Lagos and Osun states amongst others.

We Are Making Progress – Activists Speak On International Women’s Day

The Programmes Officer, OXFAM Abuja, Chioma Ukwuagu has attributed the imminent success of the Violence Against Persons Bill to advocacy for women’s right.

Speaking about the essence of the International Women’s Day celebration on our breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily; Ukwuagu said “It is an opportunity to advocate for change… We use the International Women’s Day as a platform to advocate to government and organisations to give ladies space to realise their potentials.”

She further stated that the International Women’s Day also serves as a day to empower and encourage women to take up responsibility in the society and contribute to the development of the country.

Asked if all efforts made towards women empowerment have been effective, Ms. Ukwagu affirmed that there has been improvement.

“We have gone beyond many obstacles” she said.

She cited an example of the Act on Violence Against Persons (VAP) bill, that recently passed second hearing and approved by the House of Representatives to be passed into law, which she states was achieved by advocacy.

However advocacy “is never ending,” she said. “We will continue to sensitise the populace and engage citizens on the rights of women.”

A Promise Is A Promise

The Executive Director, Legal Defence and Assistance Project, Adaobi Egboka speaking about the theme of this year’s IWD celebration, A Promise Is A Promise, states that it is time to call the different tiers of government to action and remind them of promises made concerning women.

Mrs. Egoka explained that the government needs to attend to all bills concerning women as legal backing will encourage the women folk to claim rights that are already in existence.

She admits that many advocacy groups have a hard time achieving their goals in the face of delayed justice.

She faults the Nigerian Legal System which hardly metes out adequate justice to offenders; one of the reasons many women choose to keep quiet as victims of domestic violence and discrimination.

She decried the average Nigerian woman’s mentality which sees marriage as a ‘gift’ to be embraced and endured irrespective of the treatment meted on the woman by the man.

She explained that the average Nigerian woman has been conditioned to bear domestic violence as a ‘cross’ which comes with marriage, hence they do not want to speak out.

“Those who are speaking out, you see that when they speak out nothing is done. A girl is raped and there is judgment of option of N50,000 or a year imprisonment which is after 3 or 4 years.

So in whose interest is the justice system, ” she asked.

She further stated that domestic violence and rape are two prevalent issues concerning women in the country and she blamed domestic violence on improper negotiation.

 

 

 

Gender Barriers Will Be Broken In Nigeria – Jonathan

In a congratulatory message to all Nigerian Women as they  celebrate this year’s International Women’s Day , President Goodluck Jonathan has reaffirmed his commitment to ensuring that gender barriers are broken in the country.

Speaking in line with this year’s theme, “A Promise is a Promise: Time For Action To End Violence Against Women” which was chosen by the United Nations, President Jonathan stated that he had already taken steps to empower Nigerian women.

In a statement signed by the Special Adviser to the President, Reuben Abati, the President revealed that he had already acted on his promise to break gender barriers citing women in key positions approved by his administration, citing the appointment of the first female Chief Justice of the Federation, Justice Aloma Mariam Mukhtar.

He also cited the female ministers in “very important ministries” such as Finance, Petroleum, Communications Technology, Education, Water Resources, Housing, Environment, Power, Defence and the Federal Capital Territory.

He also noted his authorizing the admission of women to the Nigerian Defence Academy and their commissioning as combatants in the Armed Forces.

“The President assures Nigerian women that he is determined to take their empowerment a step forward by working to ensure that they also get better representation in elective offices in future” the statement read.

He also pledged the federal government’s full support for “COMMIT”– the new United Nations initiative which calls on leaders worldwide to take a stand to end violence against women and girls.

The International Women’s Day is slated for every 8th of March.