By Vera Sam Anyagafu
Bishop Priscilla Onyemaechi Otuya, is the President, Mothers of the Nation, a Non- governmental Organisation (NGO), that focuses on empowering women economically to guarantee a stronger Nigerian economy, given the fact that participation of women in key sectors of any given nation is imperative and results in stronger economies overall.
In this interview, Bishop Otuya was engaged in relating the many advantages of economically empowering women, one of which she said will ensure an improved development outcomes, ultimately leading to improved economic resiliency.
She also pointed out the importance of prioritising advancement of women in almost all spheres of the Nigerian society, particularly in such areas relating to their socio-economic empowerment.
In a contest of ideas about right and wrong, men are often placed above women, especially in Nigeria. As President, Mothers of the Nation, what do you think is responsible for this and how can more women participate in key area of the Nigerian economy?
In the Nigerian context, a lot of factors are impeding participation of women in key sectors of the country’s economy. It is no longer news that women face challenges when it comes to accessing resources, including financial services, property, and other assets.
They are also less likely to receive critical education, skills and training opportunities, particularly in traditionally male-dominated fields. For this and other reasons, Mother of the Nation has come up with a platform that will alienate these compounding challenges to see more women in leadership positions in Nigeria.
A close observation on existing structures in organizations, Associations, institutions led by men will reveal one thing as the bases of their success and that is cooperation and their ability to agree/work together. Women are a natural force to reckon with and we have so much going for us but the one very important area we need to focus on now to amplify our voices and our cause is cooperation, we are lagging behind here and we have to work harder to eventually get there.
Let me also point out that one of the main reasons women seldom work together is the fact that women are powerfully endowed in very many ways and we are wired in ways that we can do a lot of things and there is this ” I am all sufficient” thing registered within our sub consciousness that makes us feel we do not need to work with others to make it. This is true to an extent for as you can see, women are great achievers in their individual space. Now imagine what will happen when we put efforts together.
This is why we started a coalition at Mothers of the Nations to introduce the concept and importance of working together as women and the progress made so far in empowering women through our organisation is significantly encouraging.
Although there is still more work to do, especially in addressing gender inequality issue both globally and domestically, and across different subject matter areas, as research has shown that many women are still economically disempowered.
We should understand that gender equality is critical to ensuring inclusive and sustainable development, and achieving our goals under the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) and the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
Come Saturday March 23rd, 2019, we shall critically examine many of the factors impeding women empowerment and participation in key areas of the Nigerian economy in a program tagged, ‘Mobilizing, equipping and engaging the untapped resources of the faith based social enterprises for socio-economic development in Nigeria.’
Women are going through various levels of domestic violence. How can your organization address this?
We did a study on the cause of violence against women and we discovered that all forms of violence against women are faith based, most belief systems are based on the misinterpretation of the scriptures which forms the bedrock of the traditions behind most religious institutions.
It is sad and dangerous that we take faith issues lightly but what we do not realise is that Faith drives the people and influence their decisions and because many see violence against women as an act of obedience to God and his word, acts of violence against women is carried out with a sense of duty to God and society.
At Mothers of the Nations we have been training and sensitizing women especially those of the faith community, first to discover who they truly are, that way they can easily identify signs of acts of violence before it happens because we believe that our conduct as women also give room for these acts of violence to occur.
Women with balanced knowledge of who and what they are, obviously earn the respect of their husbands, etc; and it is less likely for acts of violence, to occur in situation as this.
We are also embarking on taking our sensitization activities to religious leaders which will in no small way curb the prevalent trend
Sexual abuse is unimaginably high in Nigeria. What do you think will bring about a permanent solution to this?
We are living in very difficult times when parents especially mothers are forced to work to support the family and the children’s up bringing is left to school teachers and their peers, and children who lack proper parenting are open to all sorts vices and there is a need for parents to look for ways to balance work and proper parenting, this way they can monitor what their children watch, know who they are with etc. Most of the things we see happening these days, including sexual abuse are as a result of television contents our kids and even adults are exposed to.