March 8th of every year is dedicated to women all over the world to mark and appreciate “International Women’s Day”. The day is specially set aside to mark the contributions of women to the world at large and as well advocate for women development and well being all over the world. SOLA JACOBS writes that women should work their talk and work more on their unity and development rather than seeing men as their common enemy.
In recent times, women had always been seen as agitators against their noble role of mothers of the nation who are to be seen but not to be heard, except for non-patriarchal society like Europe. In Asia, Middle East and African countries, women roles seem defined and they are not so much saddled with governance and other intricate things which are wrongly referred to as the exclusive rights of men. However, the trend is changing, within the last 20 years as women seem to be pressing more for issues that will advance their course, thanks to the 2007 Beijing Conference in China, just as Nigerian women will be most grateful to the wife of former Nigeria President, Mrs. Mariam Babangida, the initiator of “Better Life for Rural Women” which served as an eye opener for women across Nigeria.
The push has increased more participation of women in politics and various other professions that have over the years been wrongly regarded as an exclusive rights of men.
Examining this year’s theme: “Women Pressing for Progress” it x-rayed that considerable heights have been reached, but there is still a greater height to mount, meaning that women have to press for the higher height, the peak, as they are the major determinants of their fates, though not without the cooperation of men.
At the celebration this year in Osogbo, the State Capital of Osun, the theme: “Virtuous woman pushing for the greater Development” which was organised by the “Osun Government Officials Wives Association” (OSUNOWA) under the leadership of the Osun Governor’s wife, Mrs. Sherifat Aregbesola, it was emphasised that women should develop and position themselves for leadership responsibilities through hardwork, integrity, creativity, modesty, service and mentoring.
Also at the progamme, various individuals were honoured for their exemplary feats. Notably was Oluwatoyin Bamidele, a 20-year-old beans-cake hawker and 200-Level student of Criminology and Security Studies of the Federal University, Oye-Ekiti who was honoured with an award of Excellence and Educational support.
It was revealed at the programme that the awardee was honoured for her courage and commitment, as she sells bean-cake (Akara) around the capital area of Osogbo with her widowed mother in other to also contribute in fending for the family and pay her tuition fees.
Born in Ara, Egbedore Local Government of the State of Osun, she has consistently demonstrated “good virtues of Omoluabi” since age 10 by hawking raw food and now Akara as a source of support for her widowed mother.
The Governor, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola while presenting the award commended the awardees for what he called a demonstration of Omoluabi virtues of hardwork despite her family situation.
Also at the OSUNWA conference, various participants won various gifts items through raffle draws, such as four mini-buses known as Korope, fridge, freezer, plasma television, grinding machine, kitchen utensils, bed side fridge, cooking gas, electric cooker, fans and lots more.
But besides the funfair of the annual international women day, there had been questions about the readiness of the womenfolk in the nation to attain the higher heights, which bordered on their preparedness, experience, expertise, financial commitment, mentoring, transparency and accountability and others.
Critics and analysts have always portend that women are the enemies of themselves, as bickering, envy, jealousy always play fore within and among them when it comes to issues of leadership positioning.
Mrs. Ngozi Nwere, the Coordinator of Community Life Project, a non-governmental organisation disagreed with the assertion that women do antagonised one another but rather posited that men always set women against each other, so as to drive for their selfish domination.
She queried the need for the position of “women leader” in our political parties, if men had come in term with equality of women who participate in politics, saying, why are the various parties in the country not allowing women to take the position of Party Chairmen despite the numerical strength of women and their commitment to party politics.
Buttressing her point, she queried what had become of the rejected “Gender Equality Bill” in the Upper Chamber of the National Assembly which was rejected by the male dominated assembly under the guise of religious and dogmatic cultural beliefs.
Mrs. Nwere ascertained that women are pushing for greater heights in their contribution to the national growth and development, but the religious and cultural beliefs are major impediments, coupled with financial inabilities of women, as they largely bear the brunts of economic recession and are mainly most time entangled with family upkeeps, while men invest more in economic and political issues at the detriments of their homes which has in turn have multi-facet consequences on the country’s moral values.
On whether women who are elected and once appointed into various political offices had performed excellently like their male counterparts, or had women been caught in corrupt practices after which the looted property and money recovered, she queried, “What is the ratio of such women to their male counterparts? Only few of those women get involved in the act without the connivance of men, and even with that, it doesn’t amount to the fact that women cannot lead”.
On women development, she argued that women had developed considerably over the years, but there is still room for development in technology realms, enterpreneurship administration and other facets.
She made case for girl child education and the need to stop early child marriage, rape and subjection of women, through female genital mutilation and other unwholesome traditional practices of widowhood rites, as well as right to own land by females in Nigeria.
Also speaking on the theme: ‘Women Pressing for Progress’, Alhaja Kudirat Oladunmoye, a female politician and retired educationist was of the opinion that the non-governmental organisations, faith-based organisations and women need do more to make case for women in the country, challenging that “some of our laws and penal codes need to be reviewed while some aspect should be expunged to meet the realities of the present Nigeria, especially, Section 55, Sub-section 5 of the penal code which allows men to correct their wives through whipping, as such act translates to violence against such woman, even if bodily injury occurs”.
She added that laws that set women at disadvantage at home, worship places and society at whole must be reviewed, noting that women are not claiming equality with men as ordained by God, but they may be allowed to enjoy human rights as God’s creation.
She enjoined women to strive to contribute positively by mentoring their children and grooming them for leadership position, as well as encouraging them to embrace positive values of modesty, hardwork, integrity, service, giving and the fear of God.
A social critic, Alhaji Murtala Orabiyi in his own response said, it is high time for Nigerian women to work their talk, as no one fettered them from reaching the higher heights, but they should consciously liberate themselves from self censor and garner financial strength and political skills to assume leadership position, which takes perseverance, submission and tenacity and experience.
He was of the opinion that Nigerian women have not reached their greatest height in politics in comparison with countries in Africa, such as Burundi, Tanzania and Liberia, but they are almost there and with lots of sensitisation, lobbying and advocacy, women in Nigeria with lots of potential will soon lead the some country, but with the cooperation of all and sundry.