BY JOSEPHINE IGBINOVIA

Despite their numerical strength in most spheres, women’s battle for hitch-free progression to the pinnacle has incessantly suffered retardation. Even the few who manage to triumph are often upturned by a blot on the landscape.

This worrisome trend informed the base of the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria-TUC Women Commission’s International Women’s Day celebration which held last Friday in Lagos.

Admitting that women had made laudable progress the world over in terms of participation in politics, equal access to healthcare and in other spheres, Chairperson, TUC Women Commission, Comrade Oyinkan Olasanoye, while speaking at the event, however argued that Nigeria had particularly fared badly in terms of gender equality.

“The 2012 Gender in Nigeria Report shows that Nigeria ranks 118 out of 134 countries in the Gender Equality Index. At every educational level, women earn less than their male counterparts and in some cases men with less education earn more. The problem of gender-based is another issue of grave concern”, Oyinkan stressed.

In response to the growing lamentation of women, President, Women Arise, Dr.Joe Okei-Odumakin, in her keynote address, identified the need for women to form a formidable bloc against inequality and learn to support one another rather than in envy.

In allusion to the popular Ejigbo women torture, she reiterated that women had a major role to play in curbing and eliminating gender-based violence because it was obvious that the role played by the Iyaloja contributed to the worsening of the torture which eventually resulted in the death of one of the women.

Upholding Odumakin’s view, First Lady of Lagos State, Dame Emmanuella Fashola, represented by Mrs.Tokunbo Jeje; Permanent Secretary, Lagos State Ministry for Energy and Mineral Resources and former state chairperson, Nigerian Union of Local Government Employees, Mrs.Regina Iyabode Obasa; Permanent Secretary, Lagos State Ministry for Women Affairs, Alhaja Risikat Akiyode; Comrade Peace Obiajulu, first-ever female president, Labour Center and  Comrade Bobboi Bala Kaigama, President, Trade Union Congress of Nigeria, jointly agreed that the only way women could inspire change as demanded by the theme for this year’s International Women’s Day celebration was to take the lead by actualizing a collective ambition.

Inspiring the TUC Women Commission to defiantly put issues of concern to women on the bargaining table,  journalist and Labour Editor, Vanguard Newspapers, Mrs. Funmi Komolafe,  called for the solemn tackling of issues such as sexual harassment, denial of rights to unionize especially in the banks and corporate prostitution disguised as “marketing ” among others.  She reminded women to revisit the Convention 183 ‘16 weeks’ maternity leave for nursing mothers and ensure it is enforced with legal backing.

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