By Funmi Ajumobi
The UN Women representative in Nigeria, Mrs Patience Ekeoba has said in a monthly SDGs dialogue held last week Tuesday at the United Nations Information Centre in Lagos, that a world of gender equality and justice is possible but all must work collectively to turn the promises to action. She said that Goal 5 of all the 17 Sustainable Development Goals is an important goal in itself and a catalyst for progress across the entire agenda.
Quoting Under-Secretary-General, UN Women executive director, Phumzille Mlombo-Ngcuka, at the monthly dialogue organised by the United Nations Information Centre, UNIC, Lagos, in collaboration with UN women with the theme: Achieving Gender Equality in Nigeria – Challenges and Prospects, she said: “ The adoption of 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in 2015 was a global victory for gender equality. Not only did United Nations Member States commit to making Sustainably equality, peace and human progress a reality for all countries and all people; they also recognised that gender equality is central to the transformative vision as an important goal in itself and a catalyst for progress across the entire agenda.”
Ekeoba highlighted some key interventions in achieving gender equality which includes; promoting leadership and inclusion where women of all ages participate in political and governance institutions and processes. Support more rural women to secure access to productive resources and engage in sustainable agribusiness. Help more women entrepreneurs better manage their enterprises and have opportunities to increase their businesses and profitability. Deliver on commitments to improve women roles in peace and security and humanitarian response and recovery efforts and address patriarchy – the system which builds and sustains inequality, she added.
Earlier in his welcome address to all the participants drawn from the Civil Society, Non-Governmental Organisations, United Nations Women and all Lagos State Actors, Dr Oluseyi Soremekun, United Nations National Information officer, advised them not to trivialise gender issues and to also avoid paying lip service in the course of their work.
Soremekun made his point clearer with the use of pink and blue cardboard where many questions about who should be responsible in doing certain work, career and duties at home, office etc. At the end of the exercise, it was clearer to the participants that to actually achieve gender equality, the issue of stereotyping and cultural bias must be eliminated in their course of service.
Soremekun encouraged the participants to free their minds from bias and endeavour not to reinforce stereotyping that put the girl-child at a disadvantage.”Do not reinforce stereotyping that may rob the girl-child of equal access or equal opportunity,” he added.
In her presentation, Dr Joe Okei-Odumakin, President, Women Arise called for establishment of Gender Equity Commission as a legislative body to monitor due compliance of gender commitments by state governments which include the minimum 35 per cent women representation at all levels in line with national policy and the passage of Gender and Equal opportunity Law across the states of the federation. She also called for women education, women empowerment for women to develop their potentials to be able to contribute to the development of the nation and equal political representation and decision- making.
Odumakin said the failure of the National Assembly to consent to the clamour for gender equality largely underscores the vicious treatment that the female gender has been exposed to, in addition to the attribution of infertility and gender marginalisation, saying that various problems affecting women have weakened the gender so much that the female population has now almost become less than the value of an average human.
She added that the challenges that women face because of socio-cultural constraints where the Nigerian society prioritises patriarchal supremacy, which in turn introduced phallocentric chauvinism and subsequently, gender oppression with imposed religious doctrine, legal constraints which limit women’s rights to be on same pedestal as their male counterparts and political constraints which prejudiced women to be too weak or intellectually incapable of handling political matters, are challenges facing the achievement of gender equality in Nigeria.
In her presentation, the Director of Communications, Public Affairs & Sustainable Development, La Farge Plc, Mrs. Folashade Ambrose Medebem said that gender equality starts with everyone as gender equality is a fundamental right for all.