By Josephine Agbonkhese
FORMER Minister of Industry and current President, Lagos Chamber of Commerce & Industry, Dr (Mrs) Nike Akande, has challenged women to be certain about their goals and pursue them with boldness, as nothing comes on a platter of gold.
Akande, who was guest speaker at a Women Leaders Summit organised in Lagos in commemoration of this year’s International Women’s Day with the theme ‘Women in the Changing World: Be Bold for Change’, said everything comes by hard work and right strategies.
Meanwhile, activist and former First Lady of Ekiti State, Erelu Bisi Fayemi, who also spoke at the event organised by the Women Advocates Research and Documentation Centre in partnership with Voices4Change, argued that the plight of women in Nigeria was extraordinarily pathetic and would therefore also require interventions in form of legislative and forensic frameworks.
According to Fayemi, who spoke alongside the Women Leader of the All Progressive Congress, Chief (Mrs) Kemi Nelson; founding director, WARDC, Dr. Abiola Akiyode-Afolabi, and other notable women at the event, Nigeria still features very poorly on almost all indices around gender equality and women empowerment.
Fayemi said: “We need to ensure that instruments such as the Violence Against Persons Act and the National Gender Policy are domesticated at state levels. It is also very important that we advocate as fast as possible for the Gender and Equal Opportunities Bill because there is a lot of misinformation going on concerning it. Meanwhile, that is a bill that is going to ensure equity and affirmative action for Nigerian women.”
Akiyode-Afolabi on her part, challenged women to change their orientation, learn to adequately address issues, hold government accountable, including their communities, stand up from their comfort zones, and to remove the seal of the culture of silence from their lives.
She also called for increase in budgetary allocation for the Ministry for Women Affairs and Social Development, both at national and state levels, adding that to a large extent, it will help tackle developmental issues and help realise the Sustainable Development Goals.
Buttressing Akande’s assertion that women must work hard at what they want, Nelson attributed women’s reoccurring inability to gain adequate political representation on their weak participation in party politics.
Nelson said: “You have to be relevant at grassroots level to succeed in politics. But most women just sleep, wake up and say they want to go to the House of Assembly. That is unrealistic. If you know you want to contest for any political office, you have to start right from your ward through the congresses, and make sure you have your own delegates that will vote for you.”