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French Embassy’s Night of Ideas explores gender, migration issues across Africa

By Josephine Agbonkhese & Elizabeth Uwandu

Speakers and audience at the recently held Night of Ideas organised by the French Embassy in collaboration with the Institut français du Nigeria and Alliance française Lagos,  have identified equal education for boys and girls as panacea for the menaces of gender inequality and illegal migration bugging the African continent; especially Nigeria.

*From left: Aurelien Sennacherib, Attache for Cooperation and Cultural Affairs, French Embassy; Monsieur Jerome Pasquier, French Ambassador to Nigeria; Mrs Ugoma Adegoke and Prof. Tancrède Voituriez at the 2019 edition of Night of Ideas held in Lagos last Thursday.

“Education plays a very big role here. With education for boys and girls, we can achieve more equality between genders, get people to treat everyone with respect and create same opportunities for boys and girls,” said Monsieur Jerome Pasquier, French Ambassador to Nigeria, while speaking at the event themed: Facing our Time.

Pasquier who reiterated that society must develop a means of regulating migration so as to have positive migration instead of negative ones, noted that the problem of poverty was currently playing a huge role in illegal migration even though not all poor persons wished to migrate.

Emphasizing the need for contemporary Africans to draw from traditional African society which supported gender equality, one of the speakers, Ugoma Adegoke, a cultural entrepreneur, said there was need for re-orientation on how best to bring up male and female children.

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“We have to go back to systems that are fair, sensitive, communal, and where respect for everyone is guaranteed,” she said, adding that several factors contributed to the rise in gender inequality in Africa.

Reeling out the factors, Adegoke said: “Colonialism and dynamics between men and women is one. Another is corruption, especially where unfair practices have become the order of the day, leading to the celebration of inequity; all these combined become sources of gender disparity.

“The role of educators also cannot be underestimated. Teachers are very important to the upbringing of young ones. Proper education is needed in order to raise children who are empathic, sensitive and who are interested in progressing their skills and abilities rather than engage in gender prejudice.

“Another is the role of fathers in enabling women and female children to fly. The tragic contribution to a system where women sometimes encourage their sons not to serve because they are boys, has also contributed to the chaos we see today.”

On his part, Prof. Tancrède Voituriez who spoke on Migration and its effect on development, noted that rather than limit the flow of migration, legal and voluntary migration should be encouraged as it was a catalyst for development.

His words: “What is assumed is that when a poor country grows and becomes less poor, there will be less migration from that country to richer country. But what we observe is exactly the opposite.

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“However, development and migration strengthen one another; when there is more development, there is more migration. So the issue is not to prevent migration generally but to prevent illegal and irregular migration. In addition, we need to encourage safe, legal and voluntarily migration,”  said Prof Voituriez.

Earlier in his address, Aurelien Sennacherib, Attache for Cooperation and Cultural Affairs, French Embassy, said this year’s theme: Facing Our Time explored global challenges through the lenses of human rights, citizenship, economy and the arts.

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