In celebration of the 2019 International Women’s Day (IWD) which comes up on 8th, March every year to recognise the roles women play in contributing their quota to nation buildings, Nigerian women have joined the rest of the world in demanding for gender balance for the development of the country.
Although it is difficult to say exactly when IWD began, research reveals that the first IWD was marked in 1911 and supported by over a million people in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland. However, it has since spread across nations of the world where people roll out the drums in celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women and their contributions to nation building.
With every year focusing on a particular theme to guide women globally in championing a course, the theme for this year, “Think big, Build smart and Innovate for Change #BalanceForbetter, is aimed at continuing determinedly to challenge bias and accelerate gender parity. It’s also a call-to-action for speeding up gender balance in business, politics, media coverage and wealth across the world.
The National President, African Women Entrepreneurship Programme (AWEP) and Executive Director, Ladela Group of Schools, Mrs Angela Ajala, while speaking on the theme for this year’s IWD said, this is the right time in Nigeria’s history to help find a better gender balanced world, adding that the theme, #BalanceForbetter, is very apt because in many countries, especially in Nigeria, there has not been balance for women in many areas. She said this is an opportunity for women to engage government on how to have a more gender balanced world in appointments, nominations and engagements at various levels of government.
She said, balance brings a rich mix to the thinking of what will help us solve the issue in Nigeria, stressing that we cannot keep having ideas in one direction. “Gender balance shows that we are going to have better outcomes in what we do. So, we are looking toward this in 2019 in what we are doing. One of the programmes we are doing with all our members across the 36 states is to present letters of engagement to all the 36 states governors asking for 40 percent inclusion of women in government to have a good balance,” Mrs Ajala said.
For gender balance to be achieved, she said women want awareness creation and implementation of developmental policies and opportunity to progress for women in government; “the policies that will push Nigeria forward.
“We are asking for regular interactive engagement with various agencies of government. Nigerian women need a step-by-step planning as we move on in the year and for the new dispensation to really move us forward to the next level in line with the slogan in gender balance.”
In decision making where women are demanding for 40 percent representation, Mrs Ajala said this is necessary because men are the ones holding majority of the positions, including at the ministerial level. “Take for instance, if there are 40 ministers, there will be only five women, in such case, and it will be very difficult for their voice to be heard. That is why we are pushing for increased percentage. Already, Rwanda is doing 50-50 and the result is that things are happening in that place for the better. That is a country that was almost buried through genocide but has come up to be one of the leading countries in Africa.
So our demand is that if more women are given the chance, there would be ripple effect down to the economy, policy, environment and even the way of living,” she also stated.