Tuesday, March 8, 2016

The 2016 International Women's Day by @MrSholler #IWD2016

The country today joins the rest of the world in observing the 2016 International Women's Day, but observers say much remains to be done to ensure women are finally playing on a level playing field with their male compatriots.

This year’s theme, ‘Pledge for Parity’ is a call to action for accelerating gender parity because the World Economic Forum predicted in 2015 that the gender gap would not close entirely until 2133, for instance, about 117 years from now.

Gender equality and the empowerment of women is gaining grounds worldwide. There are more women Heads of State or Government than ever, and the highest proportion of women serving as Government ministers and top positions. Women are exercising even greater influence in business. More girls are being enrolled to schools and are growing up equipped with accurate information about their sexual reproductive health and rights, making informed choices and better equipped (with opportunities) to realize their potentials.

Despite this momentum, there is a long way to go before women and girls can be said to enjoy the fundamental rights, freedom and dignity that is their birthright and that will guarantee their well-being. Violence against women and girls persists. Why are we still tolerating a world where the gap is not only one of gender but one of leadership when it comes to women’s rights.
Part of the challenges facing some women in Nigeria includes gender discrimination, gender-based labour division, female genital mutilation (FGM), child marriage, lack of education and sexual abuse/violence among others.

The most common and worrisome issue today is sexual abuse/violence. The media is awash with scandalizing cases of sexual abuse in the homes, schools and hospitals. Women and mostly the girl-child is exposed to constant abuse from those close to them, like uncles, family friends, classmates, teachers and lecturers. Rape cases are increasingly reported by the day.

Women and girls needs protection. She is susceptible to attack from several angles: in the home, school, church, among groups, anywhere at all; she is a target. She requires quality education, opportunities and support in order to compete for male dominated leadership positions. If she understands her rights and privileges, it will help her not to be a tool in the hand of people. She needs to understand life development skills and more opportunities will be made available her. She needs to be empowered to speak up against gender-based violence and demand justice where necessary.

The penalty for rape is life imprisonment, however, the implementation is weak. Although this law aims to deter prospective abusers from such acts, the main objective should be promoting an attitudinal change in the world to ensure women and girls are not sexually violated.

On this International Women’s Day, I urge Governments, Civil Societies and the Private Sector to commit to gender equality and the empowerment of women — as a fundamental human right and a force for the benefit of all. The energy, talent and strength of women and girls represent humankind’s most valuable untapped natural resource and key to national development.

Remember every woman is a wonder-woman. 

(Omoshola Ogunduboye is a social media volunteer at Stand to End Rape Initiative)

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