IWD: NLC, WARDC call for change in social norms
By Josephine Agbonkhese
The Nigerian Labour Congress, NLC, and the Women Advocates Research & Documentation Centre, WARDC, a nongovernmental organisation, have called for a change in social norms to accelerate the achievement of gender equality in Nigeria.
The groups spoke at a UN Spotlight Initiative event tagged ‘Engagement with Marginalised Groups on Advancing Strategies to Address Gender-Based Violence (GBV), Harmful Traditional Practices (HP) and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) in Lagos State’.
The event was organised by WARDC with support from the UN Women and the European Union in Lagos, in commemoration of International Women’s Day, IWD.
According to the Executive Director, WARDC, Dr. Abiola Akiyode-Afolabi, “social norms have to change. There are still too many people who believe a woman should be relegated to the background; and that women are supposed to be seen and not heard. This is manifested every day.
“Last week, a woman was supposed to become a Chief Judge, but could not because it is her husband that is from that state and not she.”
Akiyode-Afolabi, who said it was pertinent to mobilise voices on violence against women and girls in line with this year’s IWD theme “I Am Generation Equality: Realising Women’s Right,” lamented that issues of women’s human rights and developmental concerns were still major challenges in Nigeria despite the existence of laws.
She said: “We have here today people with disabilities, people living with HIV/AIDs, sex workers, grassroots people, women from religious and traditional spaces, and also men.
“The essence is for us to be able to strategise on addressing gender-based violence in Nigeria.”
On her part, Comrade Funmi Sessi, Chairperson, Nigeria Labour Congress, Lagos State Council, urged society to desist from condemning women who dare to speak out when being marginalised or abused.
“Most times, you find that it is even women who come out to condemn such victimised females. Nobody will make anything happen for women unless women learn to organise themselves as one,” she said.
Speaking on what the state government was currently doing to ensure an equal society for persons with disabilities, Adesina Christiana Aina, Assistant Director, Medical Affairs, Lagos State Office for Disability Affairs, LASODA, said: “We try to make job opportunities available for them.
“At least 5% of job opportunities in the civil service are reserved for them. We also train them on vocational skills; one is currently ongoing.
“This is to ensure they are useful to society and are able to contribute to its development.”