By Ene Osang
As the year unfolds, Nigerian women has again harped the need for gender equality particularly in the area of leadership and governance. This, is believed, would fast-track the addressing of gender issues especially as it affects women.
Country Representative of World Affirmative Action Awards (WAFAA) Mrs. Angela Ikona, said gender, surprisingly, has remained misunderstood to be synounimous with women by many, notwithstanding the awareness campaigns on its concept by gender activists and other concerned citizens.
Mrs. Ikona was speaking when WAFAA executives paid a courtesy visit /gender award presentation to DAAR communication’s Adaora Onyechere; anchor of popular gender programme ‘gender agenda’.
Ikona lamented the progress on gender equality in Nigeria, and encouraged women to keep up the struggle.
‘’This is why WAFAA is organizing a global gender recognition awards come March this year in the United States of America. The awards is to recognise women achievers and showcase them to the world in appreciation of their contributions to humanity.
‘’Sadly, the number of women leaders and representatives in our country today is not commiserate with their level achievements in recent times. Our expectations on gender matters this year is very high and we hope it turns out favourable, ‘’she said.
‘’We are very proud of our women who have been working hard to get to the top considering the harsh conditions and that is why we deem it necessary to acknowledge their efforts so as to encourage others.
‘’2016 is not a very good year for Nigerian women as the struggle for equality seem to not be too encouraging following the retrogression in the number of female representative but we are hopeful for a change, ‘’she added.
National President of WAFAA Dr. Hephzibah Suobo, emphasised the need for women all over the world especially in Nigeria to take responsibility in leadership and not just in the home front.
Dr. Suobo said the time when women requested for slots is over, even as he appraised women as ready and can fit into any position by merit.
According to him, ‘’gender is not just about women. Gender is a relationship between men and women in the society on how to build build bridges and close gender gaps in order to eliminate existing disparities between men and women in all interest.
He however said WAFAA recognises women who have been blazing their trail in their careers, while calling for a level playing ground in the country to enable women contribute their quota.
‘’We took it upon ourselves to encourage women by recognizing them and also create other platforms of linkages with institutions abroad on how to build their capacities to also take responsibility in leadership and not just in the home front.
‘’The time when women requested for slots is over, they want to get into position by merit because they have got a lot to offer.
Lamenting the increasing rate of violence against women and children in the country, he charged men on support to women while challenging women to double up efforts in capacity if this menace ravaging the society must be nipped in the bud.
‘’I beg to disagree that we live in a male dominated world because the reaction of most men when women are harassed in the society is anger which also makes them seek justice.
‘’We have seen so many cases of harassment, abuse and these things are no longer tenable because women are taking a stand and working towards adopting the agenda 2030 of the United Nations resolution on gender parity,’’ he said.
‘’This is why WAFAA recognises the efforts of some women like the gender agenda anchor who have contributed towards this development.
‘’We are going a step further to project women achievers to the world as we prepare for the global gender recognition awards to hold in March this year in the US.
Responding, DAAR Communications Director of Northern Operations Mrs. Dupe Oladeinde, further decried the increasing rate of violence against women and children in the country.
According to her, the issue of rape and several other gender related issues that so many women suffer in Nigeria is a result of what the society has turned into.
‘’We are supposed to be ourselves keeper but today inflicting pain on others has become the other of the day. When you inflict pain others you are inflicting pain on yourself indirectly because we are all children of God.
‘’We pray and hope that the tension of the so much pain that the world is either inflicting directly or indirectly on individuals calms down so people can live happily in the society,’’ she said.
Oladeinde assured that women can occupy leadership position and deliver on the job, adding that the world is too tensed and women should be given the opportunity to lead because they have a way of dowsing tension.
To this end she canvassed for women’s right in the society, explaining that being successful will not make women throw men out of their position as heads rather they will play their complimentary roles with ease.
‘’Who said Nigerian women cannot be President? A lot of women are blazing their trail and have shown their capabilities. African women should be recognised and showcased to the world.
‘’There is no need for women to highjack power, we want cooperation of the men to see us as women, as partners to compliment the men, ‘’ she said.
‘’Think about women in your plan because even God made women partners and not followers. We don’t want to struggle with the men because they are leaders of the home but behind every successful leader there is somebody assisting,” she added.
Expressing gratitude on the recognition, the award recipient Adaora Onyechere, said it was time all and sundry rise up against gender based violence in the country.
She added that gender is not struggling of positions but about human rights, disclosing that more women suffer in the rural areas yet has no voice to speak up.