Sunday, March 9, 2014

2014 Women’s Day: SEE What Nigerian Women Are Crying Out On Government


Again, Saturday 8 March was that time of the year when issues concerning women take front burner across the globe. The International Women’s Day is celebrated as a unique occasion drawing on issues that affect women daily.
The first International Women’s day was held in 1911. The United Nations chooses a theme for the celebration annually. However, local organizations, can select themes that are symbolic of their plight as they desire.
This year’s theme, ‘Inspiring Change’ was particularly aimed at putting women themselves in the forefront of leading the way to the desired change.
It also called attention to the achievements and prospects of the female gender in the political, economic and social landmarks recorded by the womenfolk in all their endeavours as well as aspects still requiring more effort.
In Nigeria, the occasion was celebrated on a large scale in some states while others marked it on a low-keyed, even though much of the problems of the female gender continue to mount.
In politics for instance, women are yet to earn the 35 per cent Affirmative Action as set out in the Beijing Declaration.
This puts them on the back-foot wherever political decisions are taken and the opinion of women is required. The dismal numerical strength of women in leadership positions across the country implies they continue to play second fiddle role, with the contribution to governance and policy making greatly retarded.
Joe Okei-Odumakin, renowned women activist hosted a programme on behalf of Women Arise for Change in Lagos. The seminar, according to the invitation, drew guest from the diplomatic community, civil rights groups, the legal profession as well as the academia. The topic discussed at the event was "Lifting the Siege on Womankind in Nigeria."
Grace Akawu, a Calabar, Cross River State-based women rights campaigner believes that although President Goodluck Jonathan has appointed women into strategic positions in his administration, the number is too low to make any meaningful impact.
She called for an upward review of election and appointment of women into key offices where they can influence decisions of government by bringing issues affecting the womenfolk to limelight.
She also noted that more women should be elected in local, state and National Assembly so as to make laws that can impact meaningfully in the lives of women.
Danladi Zainab, a campaigner who operates in Kachia area of Kaduna State, maintained that greater attention still needs to be made towards increasing the number of girl-child currently attending school.
She decried the situation where many girls of school age are out of school while others are given out on marriage to men, some of who are old enough to be their fathers.
“As we celebrate this year’s International Women’s Day, government must ensure that school enrolment must increase, that girls are no longer given out to early marriages rather than sending them to school.”
Danladi also opined that unless these suggestions were taken as urgent steps, the celebration would be a mere ritual lacking in ingredient that can make it efficacious.
Mrs Ngozi Okereke, a banker with one of the new generation banks on Broad Street, Lagos, appealed for collaborations between groups to ensure that all social practices that inhibit the progress of the girl child are eradicated.
She called on the government to ensure that such practices as; genital organ mutilation, early child birth, forced labour,  child trafficking and lack of opportunities for self-advancement of the women folks  are addressed urgently. 
“Governments at all levels should dedicate sizable chunk of their budgets to women in order to ensure that the shortfall in women education is addressed immediately,” she added.

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