By Ikechukwu Odu
Prof. Emeritus, Uche Azikiwe, the wife of the Nigeria’s first president and the premier of the Eastern Region, late Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, has called for more affirmative actions to reduce gender biases and inequality against women in the society.
The don who spoke at the Zik’s Onuiyi Haven on Tuesday added that women are tired of being relegated to the kitchen roles by their male folks.
While frowning at some negative cultural and social values which still subject women to dehumanizing status, he urged the government to implement the 35% affirmative action to enable women participate actively in socio-political engagements and reduce the obvious gender bias and discrimination against women in politics and other social undertakings.
While calling on the government to promote girl child education through scholarships, she advocated for grassroot sensitisation campaign through traditional institutions to expunge some of the patriarchal practices in societies which do not favour the womenfolk, adding that her NGO, ‘Widows Lifeline’ empowers at least 50 women annually in different skills to make them self-reliant.
According to her “I Prof. Emeritus, Uche Azikiwe, choose to challenge gender bias and inequality.
“Women are nowhere in politics. For some years now, the United Nations have been advocating for women inclusiveness in politics, economy, social life and so on, but it is very clear that women are nowhere in politics. For instance, in Nigeria, only four women are deputy governors in the whole 36 states. In the Senate, the number is dwindling as well. In 1999, we had up to eight or nine of them but this time around, the number is dropping. The same situation obtains in the House of the Representatives. So, women are not seen to be part and parcel of the society. There is no way we can develop in the true sense of the word if a segment of the society is not carried along.
“That’s why we are clamouring for 35% affirmative action for women in politics. The men are far ahead of us, and unless there is a concession, the situation may never change. Let the women get 35% in the Senate, House of the Representatives, states and local governments, even in party system. That would give the women a voice and relevance in our society.
“Our major problem in Africa is rooted in our culture because of the patriarchal system which places much importance on the male child, relegating the females to the background. We are tired of playing kitchen roles alone all the time. I pray that something would happen which would change this stereotype against women in our continent.
While advocating for women empowerment, she said “A lot of factors hinder women from accessing education. If a grandmother is ill for instance, it is the girl child who is sent to look after her while her male counterpart goes to school. In Africa, we give much attention to educating the male child because we believe he will keep the family name when the female is married out.
“Widows are still being maltreated in our society. They are not given any chance at all when their husband die.
The brothers and relations would want to inherit everything, leaving the widows with nothing to take care of themselves and children. We believe that the widows have no right of inheriting their husbands’ property at the point of death. This is a negative culture which should be expunged.
“This is part of the reasons which made me to create Widows Lifeline, an NGO which enables me to empower the widows and equally fight for their rights. The NGO trains at least 50 women in different skills annually and equally carry out medical outreach for the elderly, whether male or female.
“We would equally use the traditional rulers and other local institutions to enlighten the people on the need to expunge some of the stereotypes against women in our societies,” she said.