In commemoration of the year 2020 International Women’s Day, @WGCCEO alongside other organizations were invited by the Federal Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development to participate in the program on Thursday March 7th 2020 with Theme- I am Generation Equality: Realizing Women’s Rights and Social Justice –An Inter-generational Dialogue on Beijing 25 at the National Center for Women Development Abuja Nigeria. The program kicked off with a walk led by the Honorable Minister of Women Affairs and Social Development. The seminar began with an Opening Prayer and the National Anthem after which opening remarks by Development Partners all of whom emphasized the immeasurable role Women contribute to National Development as well as to the actualization of the United Nations Development Goals. It was unanimously agreed that 25 years after the Beijing National Conference and adoption of the Beijing Platform for Action, Women in Nigeria were still marginalized from Political Participation and Leadership Participation perquisites for Gender Equality and rates of Maternal Mortality and Gender Based Violence was still high.
Specifically Comfort Lamptey – United Nations Women Country Representative reiterated the fact that-
- The International Women’s Day celebrates landmark for Women’s Rights.
- The Beijing 1995 Conference provides platform for Women Empowerment.
- The Beijing Platform for Action is a progressive document for advancing Gender Equality.
However after 25 years there is need to highlight the engagement of young people and to put the emphasis on young women. She was of the view that 25 years after Beijing Conference, Women were demanding-
- Equal Pay
- End to Sexual Harassment
- Accessible and Affordable health care
- Political Participation of Women.
It was worthy to mention that Nigeria has made some success in promoting the rights of Women which includes the-
- The Passage into Law the Violence against Persons Prohibition Act 2015
- Plans for the adoption of the United Nations Resolution 1325
Even-though violence against Women is still pervasive in home and public places and the abysmal low number of Women in Parliament, Generation Equality is seeking a new generation of activists to uphold human rights so no one is left behind.
Male Champions of Gender Equality also gave their remarks-Below are excerpts
A He for She Advocate who also doubles as the Chief of Staff to the Deputy Senate President Dr. Otive Igbuzor –harangued in his 3 messages speech that-
- 25 years after the Beijing Conference, real change low for majority of Women in Nigeria. Even as Africa had 26.1% percent of Women in Parliament out of which Nigeria has only 6%.
- He accentuated that the greater number of women who are economically empowered and the existence of Gender Equality the better of quality of life and enormous growth in GDP. Hence the need to celebrate women in-spite of Patriarchy.
- There is need for a new group of men and women who think differently; not those who interpret the scriptures through prison of patriarchy.
Mr. Ilesanmi Senior Social Development Analyst from the World Bank echoed the need to
- Get more Women in Parliament and to participate in Elections
- Reduce Maternal Mortality
- Address Disparities between Boys and Girls
This is because investment in Women and Girls is smart economics.
Emir of Kano- Alhaji Sanusi Lamido Sanusi represented by a Senior Emir read the speech of the Emir which was centered on –
- Women hold the key to continuity of life
- Women bring in value when included in National Development Matters
- If Mothers are well educated, the whole of society would progress.
- If Girls are not educated, there would be no gynecologist to attend to Women.
- Remarkable change happens through Women Inclusion.
Mr.Edward Kallon UN Resident Coordinator was of the strong perspective that there is need for serious structural change in Nigeria in the area of Education, Health and Gender as if 50% of the population is helpless, Nigeria as a Nation cannot make remarkable progress. In his words ‘Patriarchy victimizes not only women but also men and the society suffers’. Additionally, there was need to promote Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
Health Minister did not mince words to say that the Primary Health Care Facilities in the country would not work if Women were absent and if Nigeria is to move forward Women should be empowered and educated,
In her speech Dame Pauline Tallen said Women must continually celebrate themselves as there is hope for them. She asserted that there should be a deliberate effort for the old and young to connect as inter generational transition must be deliberate. She advised Civil Society Organizations to harness their energies as individual efforts is more recognized but collective efforts .
At the panel session, it was laid bare that Girls’ face difficulties on issues relating to Decision Making and it now the ‘New Normal’ for Girls’ to want to get Education. Panelist enlightened Women that Agriculture, Information and Communication Technology and Innovative Technology will drive the next generation hence the need for Women to be actively involved in these sectors.
Lastly, guests were made to understand that the media is an integral part of development, hence the need to involve them in all programs which promotes Women’s efforts in ensuring actualization of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.