By Chidi Nkwopara
OWERRI—The Vice Chancellor, VC, of Imo State University, IMSU, Owerri, Professor Adaobi Obasi, has expressed regret that “women’s greatest problem are traceable to women themselves”.
The VC’s position was made known yesterday, in a keynote speech delivered on her behalf in Owerri by the institution’s Deputy Vice Chancellor, Administration, Professor Bertram E. B. Nwoke, to flag off a two-day workshop on “Gender and Economic Empowerment for Women in Nigeria”.
“It is most regrettable that a good chunk of the damnable, outdated and unconscionable widowhood practices observed in several Nigerian societies are perpetrated by women against their fellow women”, the VC said.
While wondering why women should take delight in visiting severe hardship on one of their own in grief, Obasi cautioned that the 35 per cent affirmative action for women, may remain a mirage if women fail to come together and pursue a common cause.
“It must be said and clearly too, that the famed 35 per cent affirmative action for women will remain a mirage if women can’t come together and pursue their common cause. They should not expect anybody or group, to do this for them”, Obasi said.
After giving a rundown of the litany of woes facing women worldwide, the VC pleaded with the men not to see or treat women like articles of trade.
“In most Nigerian communities, women are sadly reduced to mere articles of trade. They are to be seen and not heard, but these archaic custom and tradition should be jettisoned in this day and age”, Professor Obasi pleaded.
Welcoming the participants earlier, the Head of Department of Mass Communication, Imo State University, Owerri, Dr. Nkem Fab-Ukozor, appealed to the government, mass media and civil society organisations in Nigeria, to join the global struggle for gender equity.
“The new blueprint for global development, Agenda 2030, adopted at the United Nations Sustainable Development Summit in 2015, sets ambitious target in it’s 17 goals, one of which is dedicated to achieving gender equality and empowering all women and girls”, Dr. Fab-Ukozor said.
She was not very happy that the news media seems to be passive in the global struggle for gender equity, even as she pointed out that “this is not only a prerequisite for sustainable development, but also a critical achievement for sustainability”.
While recalling the findings of a survey carried out in Nigeria by a non-gevernmental organization, Media and Gender Enlightenment Initiative, MEGEIN, the university don said: “Results of the project have revealed abysmal under representation and relative silencing of women’s voices, as well as systemic sexualization and objectification of women in news media.”
It was her considered view that women’s poor presence and participation in the news, was not unrelated to their lack of knowledge and involvement in public issues and discourses.