By Elizabeth Uwandu

THE question of who and the place of woman in the society formed the discourse by guests and poetry performance by some Nigerian students at a literary summit, tagged, “Female empowerment and sustainable development,” hosted by  Miss Chioma Uwandu, founder, Impact Her Initiative, IHI in conjunction with the Department of English, University of Lagos.

Attitude and orientation

While some have argued that the female gender ought to be relegated to certain responsibilities and opportunities; and also be referred to as second class citizens; these notions of female being half human, weaker vessel seem to be changing as female activists have come to say that the right education, attitude and orientation can make the woman achieve her potentials without societal limitations.

So, it was a moment of realization at the event sponsored by Whole Woman Network, WWN, Glass Door Concepts, and Comic Republic, when guests such as Prof. Hope Eghagha,  HOD,  English Department,  UNILAG;  Prof. Karen King-Aribisala, Mrs Chinyere Obi-Obasi;  beauty queen and current Miss Ideal, Nigeria,  Queendalyn Nkem and Mr Abimbola Oyarinu, doctoral, candidate, UNILAG and Miss Kate Ekanem; and the founder, IHI, Miss Uwandu, said that the clamour for gender equality could only enslave the female more.

They argued that female empowerment can be achieved when the focus of female equality is shifted to the issue of equity, right education and respect for the girl child is sustained.

In her opening speech, IHI host said that her NGO seeks among other things to deconstruct the notion that sets a girl or woman on the fringes as a second-class individual. Her words, “ We want girls and women to be psychologically  empowered, because it begins in the mind.  And one way to achieve that is through education. If the females are properly educated, a lot will change about the way they view themselves and how the society feels about them. This is why our motto is “Educating a Girl-save a Nation.”

Chairman of the summit, Prof. Eghagha in his speech said that two things made him to attend the event: The poetry competition of “Because I am a woman”, and the need to identify with girl child empowerment. His words, “It is my aim to educate the female child that you are in no way inferior to anybody. Yes, as a woman, you can aim high and be whatever you want to be provided you are equipped morally,  educationally,  spiritually and physically.“

The English dept HOD said that the same culture that ganged up against the female will be the one to open way for the woman that succeeds.“ Yes, culture has ganged up against the girl child.

Mutual respect

However, if you as a girl move against these limitations, culture will give you a way. So long as you work hard assiduously, not seeing yourself as a mere woman,” added Prof. Eghagha.

Oyaniru, the Historian on his part said that the advocacy for gender equality was one that reduce and ridicule the women folk. “ Equality is utopia, all we want is mutual respect for the girl child. Female should demand for equity and not equality”, added the UNILAG scholar.

For Mrs Obi-Obasi,  who spoke on maximizing your potentials as a girl /woman, she posed the question, “Who is a girl child? She described  the girl child as being number one  a human being born with potentials.

“God does not hate anyone. So, as male and female, we are all unique and wonderfully made. So, being a girl child, you are first of all a human being. One born with potentials. The potentials should be faithfully maximized”, opined the one time Etisalat winner for fiction.

Queen Nkem who spoke on female empowerment; a sure way to sustainable development noted that giving the child girl the best education reduces poverty; stops violence and sexual abuse and reduces corruption.

Ekanem added that women the world over should stand up for their rights.


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