On March 8, Nigeria joined the rest of the World in marking the International Women’s Day 2018.
The theme for of this International Women’s Day 2018, “Press for Progress” emphasized the need for women around the world to continue to press forward issues relating to gender parity.
Without doubts, the United Nations has done a lot of advocacy with a viewing to protecting women against abuses and empowering them over the years.
In Nigeria, the Federal Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development was created in response to the United Nations agreement to establish institutional mechanisms for the advancement of women and women matters.
It is a product of efforts established through a Decree in 1989 giving rise to the National Commission for Women.
Evidently, a former Aviation Minister and current senator representing Anambra North Senatorial District, Senator Stella Oduah, is keying in; she has become a vanguard of women empowerment in Nigeria.
She has invariably become a notable voice for Nigerian women, championing the advancement of women in Nigeria.
For her, women cannot continue to wait around for men to give them opportunity to be partakers of governance in Nigeria and around the World.
Speaking recently on activities commemorating the 2018 International Women’s Day, Oduah disclosed that she would continue to champion legislative frameworks that would aid women in the political and empowerment drives.
On this note, Oduah who is the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Cooperation and Integration said that the Senate would soon reintroduce the bill for 35 percent affirmative action for women as ministers as well as 20 percent for women as commissioners in states.
Oduah who is the vice chairman of the Senate Committee on Women Affairs, pointed out that the Bill which was rejected by the Senate in July 2017 in the constitution amendment exercise, would be reintroduced and forwarded to the 36 state assemblies for endorsement.
Last year, the proposal failed at the upper legislative chamber as it garnered only the votes of 49 senators, instead of the 73 required to ensure the success of the bill.
For the Distinguished senator, the failure of the bill was a sign of conspiracy by men to stop the advancement of women, adding that women had a reasonable number and must work for their own advancement.
She however expressed a rekindled optimism on the success of the bill when re-introduced, disclosing that the President of the Senate and other colleagues had given their word to see to the success of the bill.
“The President of the Senate has made that promise and all senators are in agreement, they have concurred to that. It is the right thing to do, and it is way overdue.
“The United Nations has made it very clear that when progress and empowerment is anchored on women, then there would be a more progressive society.
“Everybody should press for women to emerge, not just politically but in every way. Therefore all activities that have to do with women, we must make sure that we bring it to the front burner. That should be everybody’s campaign”.
The lawmaker who is the President, ECOWAS Female Parliamentarians Association (ECOFEPA), added that: “Gender should not be an obstacle, it has not been and it must not be an obstacle. The glass ceiling has been broken many times and we must make sure we smash it.
“My message to Nigerian women today is that they should keep hope alive, they must participate fully and should not allow themselves to be discouraged by anybody”.
More so, Oduah, while felicitating with Nigerian mothers on the celebration of the 2018 mothers’ day, charged them to be anchors of development.
In a message to Nigerian mothers on the occasion of the celebration, the senator who represents Anambra North in the National Assembly described women as special breed created for special purposes.
“Women are special breed indeed. God took out a special day to perfect the creation of women.’’
Her advocacy however is not limited to her constituency where she had empowered over 200 women or in Nigeria where she champions campaigns for the advancement of women.
At the international level, the ECOFEPA President had continued to frown at why any nation would choose to jettison women who make up more than half of its population.
Speaking at the recent Second Ordinary Session of the ECOWAS Parliament, Oduah said that women constituted the larger population in the sub-region and could not be left aside in developmental moves.
She said that the participation of women in the politics of West Africa was still very low and needed to change.
Oduah stressed that women were capable of contesting and holding any political office in the sub-region adding that women should not play second fiddle but must rise up to the occasion and participate in politics to developing Africa.
“West Africa cannot attain its intended developmental strides without the involvement and participation of women in politics and policy making and implementation.
“You lose their strength, their brilliance, their contributions and you lose their participation.
“If the women who make up more than half of our populations do not participate in developing West Africa, it means that we are using less half of our strength.
“Women do not have to beg to be allowed to participate, we constitute the larger population. We must participate because governance belongs to the people not to a particular gender,” she said.
In keeping true to her word as ECOFEPA President, plans are already underway to build a Women Leadership Training School in Abuja where women all over West Africa would be trained.
For her, it is not just enough that women participate in politics, she insists that the women must put their best foot in front, hence the need for the training.
Speaking further on the role of women, Oduah who runs a woman-empowerment programme in her constituency, said that it is a show of inadequacy on the part of any man who stands in the way of a woman.
She therefore charged fellow female parliamentarians as well as the male counterparts to be advocates of women participation in their respective countries.
Oduah said that even in the area of Agriculture, women held the power to navigate the continent away from hunger.
Exemplifying with her constituency project, the ECOFEPA President said that women whom she had empowered in various fields of agriculture now earn a living on their own.
She added that out of the 1000 people she had empowered in her constituency, women constituted the larger number because of their importance in building the family and the nation.
“We must all take into account the role of women in development in the family and the nation.
All in all, Oduah’s standpoint remains that women play pivotal role in national development and should be appropriately empowered.
However, she insists that the women must not stand by and wait to be empowered or be given opportunity but they must press to be empowered and must press to occupy the right positions from where they can effect the right changes.