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International Women’s Day: Minister, Saraki, Odumakin, Vanguard columnist, others urge women to be resilient

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By  Henry Umoru, Levinus Nwabughiogu, Victoria Ojeme, Ebun Sessou, Josephine Agbonkhese, Joseph Erunke,  Elizabeth Uwandu, Gloria Orogun & Chris Onuoha

LAGOS—Activists,  women leaders and other stakeholders in the country joined the global celebration of International Woman’s Day, yesterday, with a call to public and private sector leaders to address discrimination against women.

They also urged  women to remain resilient in their quest for positive change.

This is even as Acting President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, reiterated the commitment of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration to the protection of Nigerian women against gender violence and discrimination.

Similarly, the Senate hinted of plans to probe alleged violence against women in the country, mandating its Committee on Women Affairs to look into the domestication of the violence against Persons Prohibition Act in all the states of the federation and report back to it within a short time.

Buhari’s govt  sensitive to women’s plight — Osinbajo

In his message to the Nigerian women, Osinbajo said women must be empowered to give them same opportunity  as men.

Noting the numerous achievements Nigerian women had recorded since independence in 1960, the Acting President said they were entitled to rights to a safe, healthy and stable life in the country.

Members of Aids Healthcare Foundation during the International Women’s Day celebration, in Abuja, yesterday. Photo: Gbemiga Olamikan.

The message read: “On International Women’s Day, I would like to, on behalf of the President, government and people of Nigeria, recognise and appreciate the very valuable work done, and role played by women in our country, over the years, since the struggle for independence.

“We acknowledge and value the contributions women are making to national development. They do this daily working within and outside the home as well as in public life. Indeed, they sometimes are the sole providers for their families.

“To strengthen the economic capacity of Nigerian women, President Muhammadu Buhari personally ensured that the sum of N1.6 billion was set aside for National Women’s Empowerment Fund—the Jarin Mata Fund.

“This administration remains committed to ensuring the protection of all women from all forms of gender-based violence, especially those living in parts of our country where the security situation is difficult and living conditions are challenging. We are determined that Nigerian women will live to fulfill their aspirations in a peaceful and prosperous country.”

Senate to probe violence against women

On its part, the Senate said it was determined to probe all forms of violence against women in Nigeria.

The Senate action was sequel to a motion, tagged: “International Women’s Day” with the theme “Women in the Changing World of Work: Planet 50:50 by 2030,” with special focus on women’s empowerment.

It was sponsored by the seven female senators in the 8th Senate, led by Binta Masi Garba, APC, Adamawa North.

Meanwhile, at  separate events to mark the day across the country, Minister for Women Affairs and Social Development, Hajiya Aisha Jummai Alhassan; wife of the Senate President, Mrs Toyin Saraki; OXFAM; Convener, Women Arise, Dr Joe Odumakin; Vanguard columnist and former Vanguard Assistant Editor  (Labour), Mrs. Funmi Komolafe; Executive Director, Women in Management, Business and Public Life, WIMBIZ, Mosun Layode; CEO, EbonyLife TV, Mo Abudu; Executive Director, Community Life Project, Ngozi Iwere and Rotimi Sankore of African Development International said this year’s theme, Be Bold for Change, suited current realities in the country.

Under-representation of women in governance hampering economic growth — Minister

In Abuja, Alhassan said the under-representation of women in governance was hampering economic growth and development in the country.

The minister, who spoke through the Permanent Secretary of the ministry, Mrs. Phylis Nwokedi, advocated increased opportunities for women in decision making positions, high level political offices, and workplaces, both in public and private sectors.

Also speaking in Abuja, wife of the Senate President and Founder, Wellbeing Foundation, Mrs Toyin Saraki, made case for internally displaced women and girls and called for prompt action to prevent them from turning to sex toys just to obtain the basic things of life.

Komolafe urges women to participate in trade unionism

In Lagos,  Mrs Komolafe called on women to participate actively in trade unionism, saying this would make them stronger.

Mrs Komolafe, who was the guest speaker at the maiden edition of IndustriAll Global Union, Federal National Council, Nigeria, symposium to mark Women’s Day, said women in unionism were better opportuned than their counterparts, who shun unionism owing to perceived religious and cultural limitations.

Similarly,  at a joint walk by hundreds of civil society organizations, led by Odumakin from Awolowo Way to  Governor’s Office in Alausa, defying the early morning shower to press home their demands, women lamented the  spate of gender-based violence while also decrying the poor justice system in the country.

Some of the inscriptions on placards displayed read: ‘Girl Child Education is a right’, ‘Stop trading with girls to sustain the boy, they both come by same process of birth’, ‘Trade goods; not the girl child, she is too young to trade’, ‘Mama na boy? No taboo that she’s a girl’, ‘Educate a girl, empower a community’ among others.

Also,  at an event organized by WIMBIZ in Lagos to mark the day, Abudu urged women to cultivate creative minds and believe in themselves if they must achieve the change they sought.

In same vein, Layode said it was time women across the country learned to take risk and vacate their comfort zones, especially as society becomes more competitive.

In Edo State, at an event organized by the Adoration Women Ministry to mark the day, Ezinne Charity Onuoha, chairperson of the organization, tasked women on their role as homemakers and nation builders.

She said: “No woman in this 21 century is expected to be seen as a docile wife at home. With this year’s theme ‘Be Bold for Change’, I urge you to step out as a force to make an impact in your communities and society at large. Gone are the days when we say men rule the world. Today, women are turning the hand of the clock and we must continue to do that with all the resilience in us.”

On its part, the Lift Above Poverty Organisation, LAPO,  charged Nigerian women to rise to the challenge of becoming pacesetters in national development.

Executive Director of the organisation, Mrs. Sabina Idowu-Osehobo, who gave the charge while speaking at the event organised by LAPO Lagos 2 Region, said the importance of women in the society could not  be overemphasized.

The Executive Director, who was represented by Mrs Sandra Asowata, Regional Officer, LAPO Lagos 2 Region, said:  “International Women’s Day is a time to reflect on progress made, to call for change and to celebrate acts of courage and determination by women who have played extraordinary roles in the history of their families, communities and society at large.

In the same vein, women on the umbrella of Inner Wheel, District 911 at a road show to mark day, called on stakeholders to take the issue of gender equality seriously for sustainable development.

District Chairman, Inner Wheel District 911, Mrs Oluwemimo Olasanya, who led the road march, noted that the country needed to tackle  issues of sexual harassment against women; bridge the gap of unequal remuneration of women and remove the limitations placed on human by the society.

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