By Denrele Animasaun
Next week is the International Women’s Day and this year’s theme is #PressforProgress. It is obvious, there is much more to do in terms of gender parity to lift Nigeria females out of poverty and lack of opportunities.
This year, it is hoped that many will pledge one action during international women’s day. Take your pick-maintains gender parity mind-set, challenge stereotypes and bias, forge positive visibility of women, influence other’s beliefs or actions and most importantly, let’s all celebrate women’s achievements.
From my archive-women hold up half the skies 03/16.:
Nigeria did not fare well, and was 118th in the ranking and she can do better. I am sure those who are not concerned that Nigeria did not make it higher in the ranking. They should be concerned, we all should be. We all have to share the responsibility of lifting our girls and woman so that they can live up to their full potential.
So if Rwanda, South Africa and Namibia, can do so, why can’t Nigeria? According to the World Bank, if, young Nigerian women had the same employment rates as young Nigerian men, they would add 13.9 billion Naira in annual GDP. It makes sense, you would think that Nigeria, should work towards mandatory education for all girls, just as it is for boys.
Girls are often not given that opportunity as in our society we often write off the girl child. In a nation of 180 million people, women make up 49.5% of the population so there is no better place for parity. It is common in our culture to place more value on boys than girls. You can see that, in that way we react at the arrival of a baby boy; that of jubilation and in contrast, the arrival of a baby girl is often greeted with muted commiserations from friends and family. If the truth be told, the mother is often made to feel a failure if she does not provide the family with a male and an heir.
The odds are already stacked against the female and Nigeria is not alone. The sad fact is one-quarter to one-half of girls in developing countries become mothers before age 18 according, to the United Nations Population Fund. The focus should therefore be on health and human rights of girls and women.
Only then, we can begin to seriously make the pledge towards gender parity. Let us do away with sound bites and the rhetoric, we need commitment and actions. We need to change our mind-set in the way that girls and women are treated in our society.