We are at a pivotal moment for Women’s rights. The historical and structural inequalities that have allowed and paved way for discrimination, oppression, and abuse are being exposed now more than ever before particularly among the progressive nations of the global north and south. Furthermore, institutions, governments, corporate organizations, local norms and cultures have preempted Women to rise up and fight against all forms of obnoxious and archaic laws ranging from sexual abuse, rape, female genital mutilation, harassment, misogyny and discrimination of all kinds which impedes against the Growth and Advancement of Women in making qualitative and valuable contributions globally. Thus, achieving gender equality and empowering women and girls is the unfinished business of our time, and the greatest human rights challenge in the World today.
This year’s theme “PressforProgress” captures the vibrant life of the women whose passion and commitment have won women’s rights over generations, and have yielded positive impacts. We celebrate an unprecedented landmark in the Global Movement for Women’s rights, Equality, Safety, Security, and Justice which has brought emblem of excellence and reward that justifies the tireless efforts of Women who have pushed for Gender Equality Globally. The activism and advocacy of generations of these Great Women have paved way for the Woman, as there are more Girls in school than ever before; more Women are engaged in paid employment, and occupying Senior positions in the Private Sector, Academia, Politics, Health, Governmental Organization, and in International Organizations. Gender Equality is enshrined in countless laws, and harmful practices like Female Genital Mutilation and Child Marriage have been outlawed in many countries. Nigeria has not been left out of the Global picture as Women have Grown and demonstrated Expertise in Nation Building and Sustainable Development. The Nigerian Woman has also worked tirelessly in carving a niche for herself in the Political, and Socio-economic spheres of the Nation and beyond, thereby garnering praises and recognitions from all and sundry Nationally, Regionally and Globally,
On this 2018 International Women’s Day, we celebrate our Mothers, Sisters, Daughters, Aunts and ordinary Women who have played pivotal roles in their respective Communities and Villages. This brings to mind the ordinary Woman in the North East, Middle Belt and other parts of the country who have faced the scourges of Conflicts, Killings and other Inhumane Treatments meted out, but are still standing tall to rise up from all the Psychological, Emotional and Physical Trauma suffered as a result of these conflicts and violence. These women through sheer perseverance and tenacity have contributed immensely in seeking and fighting for peace to be restored in their communities. A noble mention worthy of note are Women striving to ensure that the Kidnapped and Abducted Girls in the North East who have been used as War Bargaining Chips, Sex Slaves, and Child Bearers are released, empowered, and ingrained back into the society through coordinated Advocacy to ameliorate the plights of Women and Girls in these Areas.
The celebration also calls on Women in Nigeria to unite against all forms of Sexual and Gender Based Violence perpetrated against them, as Women bear the final brunt in conflicts and post conflict periods which includes but not limited to Rape, Torture, Forced Marriages, Mutilation, Early Pregnancies, STD’s/STI’s. In Nigeria, the war against Sexual and Gender Based Violence has heightened as a result of the Parochial, Primordial and Patriarchal nature of our society. In order to tackle these, all hands must be on deck from all sectors of the society to curb this menace of Sexual and Gender Based Violence which is eating deep on the lives and aspirations of Nigerian Women. Additionally, there is need for the Legislative Arm of Government to do more by Adjudicating Laws that will preserve and further entrench the Equitable Rights of Women. On this note, we call on the Senate to pass the Gender and Equal opportunities Bill which would eliminate all forms and levels of Discrimination and Bias against Women in Nigeria. Doing this would elevate the status of Nigerian Women at the Global stage and also highlight the importance of Nigeria as a Global Giant in the comity of nations.
We at CLEEN Foundation are proud to be part of this movement, and we hope it resonates within Nigeria and around the World. At this critical juncture in the fight for Women’s emancipation worldwide, it is time for Men to stand with Women, listen to them and learn from them, so they can reach their full potentials and harness their aspirations in order to develop our Communities, Societies and Economies. For a popular African proverb says “If you train a Woman, you train a community.”
CLEEN Foundation and FCT Sexual
Gender Based Violence Response Team
Rule of Law Advisory Unit, Office of Vice-President