INTERNATIONAL WOMEN'S DAY 2018: PRESS FOR PROGRESS
Although it is believed that gender parity is still about 200 years away from being a reality, it is important to note that women, especially as a marginalized group, can #pressforprogress by challenging stereotypes and bias, forging positive visibility of women, influencing others' positive beliefs, maintaining a gender parity mindset and celebrating women’s achievements.
In Nigeria, gender parity is almost appearing to be non-achievable except for the strives and efforts of some State and non-State actors.
Women Consortium of Nigeria (WOCON) being a women-focused organization since inception has been working towards making equality a reality by ensuring economic, social and political empowerment of women through the elimination of harmful traditional practices and violence against women, boosting women’s health including reproductive health rights and ensuring women have equal access to basic education and equal representation in positions of power and authority.
A persistent challenge of many countries in their pursuit of democracy is how to strengthen systems and promote the participation of minorities especially women. The participation of women in Nigerian politics is regretfully low and WOCON has been active in this strive because of the belief that the legitimate issues and concerns of women would not have been short-changed by bureaucratic and regulatory processes if women are adequately represented in decision-making processes. To tackle this setback, WOCON has been active in the political and civic education of women, grooming of women politicians as well as pushing for the establishment of some women-friendly laws and policies.
WOCON with the help of West African Networks has also been providing counselling, support as well as reintegration of women victims of sexual exploitation and domestic servitude through irregular migration and trafficking. Rural women are also not left behind as WOCON in 2017 discovered a widows’ cluster community in Ogun State and held activities to commemorate the International Rural Women’s Day in that community
In 2013, WOCON with support from International Labour Organization (ILO) conducted a Need Assessment for over 100 women who have children that are out of school and empowered them with capital equipment to assist them become self-sufficient and also re-enrolled their children in schools with the support of the Ministry of Education and other relevant Stakeholders and International Partners.
Due to the fact that Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is still a cause for concern in this part of the world, WOCON with support from the Ogun State Ministry of Women Affairs has taken upon itself to educate, train and continually inform women especially rural women on the health and psychological dangers posed by FGM. With the continuous practice of FGM being a violation of the FGM prohibition law, WOCON assisted in simplifying the law in easy-to-understand languages for better understanding. This and many other harmful traditional practices are forces that have militated against women’s progress over the years. In 2018 WOCON intervened in an attempted FGM practice and was able to curb the act.
In the quest to #pressforprogress the social, economic, political and cultural achievements of women should be celebrated and sustained and more women should be motivated and empowered as change catalysts towards achieving gender equality and peace.
HAPPY INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY TO ALL NIGERIAN WOMEN OF COURAGE!