The International Women’s Day is a time to reflect, celebrate the wonderful creature — the women, and call for an end to the plights and travails of girls and women in the country and in our communities. This is a special opportunity to deepen the agitations as we must stop paying it lip-service. Nigeria must set to work to lead the rest of Africa on advocacy for women’s rights and empowerment.
According to the United Nations Secretary-General, 7000 incidents of sexual violence were recorded against women and girls by terrorists in Nigeria between 2009-2017. This is a grim statistic highlighting how girls are fast becoming pawns in the scheme of terrorism. This is an inhumane insurgency trend this nation must stop forthwith. The Leah Sharibu and the Chibok girls’ debacle is enough calamity for a lifetime.
The rights of women are still in jeopardy. Wikipedia (2017) puts women in the labour force in Nigeria ratio at 50%. But one in three women are victims of sexual or gender-based violence. Aside from the poor, prevalent cultural mindset of a notoriously patriarchal society, illiteracy and a deep lack of awareness on women’s rights in the local communities do not help matters.
As fast as we can, we must improve women’s participation in politics. The unorthodox approach of using them for electioneering without entrusting them with leadership positions is repudiating. Every Nigerian state governor should emulate Kwara’s AbdulRazaq whose cabinet is 52% women, so as to stop underutilising the potentials of women in nation-building.
Nigerian women’s rights to health must be accorded better attention. The health problems for the women include breast and cervical cancer, high maternal mortality rate, female genital mutilation, vesicovaginal fistula among others. These are health challenges that are life-threatening. To keep a nation, one must keep the women healthy. Nigerian women deserve the best medical attention from the government at all levels.
As Nigeria marks the International Women’s Day, the nation should reflect on how to make heroines out of every woman. Any encumbering legal, social and economic system of the country on gender inequality should be dismembered.
The education of girls should be given a definitive commitment. The punitive culture and mindset of degradation of the women should be seriously frowned at. The earlier the nation has more female researchers, scientists, doctors, engineers among others the better. The whole world is increasingly aware of women’s might and Nigeria should not be left behind.
As the theme for this year’s celebration suggested, realizing women equality is a generational responsibility. Therefore, the press persons, civil societies and development bodies should support the government at all levels to achieve this global goal. There may be a need for massive awareness on gender-based issues across the country.
We should get something clear: this is a decade of action. Anything short of this mitigates against the purpose of our creation. If the world is in evolution, women are the wheel. Nigeria (ns) should quit talking now.
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