The Priests Peace and Justice Initiative (PPJ) joins the rest of the World to celebrate the International Women’s day (IWD) and calls on Nigerians to challenge gender inequality and the Federal Government to implement and strengthen gender sensitive laws that will provide support for gender issues and eliminate gender discrimination in Nigeria.
In a press statement issued in Abuja by Dr. Otive Igbuzor, Programme Director, to commemorate this year’s international women’s day, the organization said “Women all over the world want and deserve an equal future free from stigma, stereotypes and violence; a future that’s sustainable, peaceful, with equal rights and opportunities for all. To get us there, Nigeria needs women at every table where decisions are being made.”
In this year’s International Women’s Day, PPJ wants to celebrate the exceptional work of women around the world; especially the Christian Women Against Corruption which is one of the campaign platforms for the Shun Corruption Project for setting a positive example, showing that women are not only victims of corruption, but also key players in the struggle against it.
According to him while corruption affects people across all genders, ages and races, it hits poor and vulnerable groups the hardest, especially women. Gender-specific forms of corruption deepen inequality, hinder women’s empowerment, and are a violation of human rights.
He said that although women’s full and effective participation in all areas of life will drive progress for everyone, women are still underrepresented in public life and decision-making processes saying at the current rate of progress gender equality among Heads of Government will take another 130 years. “When women lead, we see positive results and women, especially young women, are at the forefront of diverse and inclusive movements online and on the street for social justice and gender equality in all part of the world. Yet, women under 30 are less than 1 percent of parliamentarians worldwide,” he said.
Expressing support for this year’s theme, he said the IWD is a rallying cry for Nigerians to choose to challenge gender bias and stereotypes saying that individually, we are all responsible for own thoughts and actions – all day, every day. We can all choose to challenge and call out gender bias and inequality and collectively, we can help create an inclusive world.
Dr. Igbuzor also stated that; “the marginalization of women in economic development and in social and political spaces is a worldwide phenomenon; however, it is worst in developing countries. In Nigeria, despite the adoption of the United Nation’s convention on the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women in 1985 and similar local policies, such as the National Gender Policy of 2006, inequality still exists due to myriad of cultural and structural challenges.”
He emphasized that this has constrained women’s participation in all spheres of life with serious implication for human resource development and, in that capacity, economic development of the country and the general state of gender equality and referred to research over the years which has shown that women lay behind men in most indicators of socio – economic development and they constitute most of the poor, the unemployed and the socially disadvantaged.
According to him, the Nigerian Constitution which abhors and prohibits gender – based discrimination, does not protect women’s rights. He said an ideal Constitution should have been drafted with the input of every segment of society, but the 1999 Charter was made without consulting Nigeria’s women, and its language reflect this imbalance. Citing Section 26 of the Constitution he said that a foreign woman married to a Nigerian man is eligible for Nigerian citizenship, but the same right is not granted to a foreign man married to a Nigerian woman.
He argued that the adherence to customary laws reinforces practices that are unfavorable to women, including those relating to freedom of movement, marriage and inheritance. He took a journey backward in time to reflect on a bill to abolish all forms of discrimination against Nigerian women which was considered in the mid – 2000s, but was never passed by the National Assembly; an Act which he believed would have been a giant step towards redressing inequalities between men & women.
Stating the importance of gender equality and the empowerment of women, Dr Igbuzor said; “Gender equality is fundamentally linked to sustainable development and is vital to the realization of human rights for all”. The overall objective of gender equality is a society in which men and women enjoy the same opportunities, rights and obligation in all sphere of life. Gender equality benefit everyone and it has been conclusively shown to stimulate economic growth which is crucial for developing countries like Nigeria.
He urged all Nigerians to join this year’s campaign theme #ChooseToChallenge; for a challenged world is an alert world saying from challenge comes change, so let’s choose to challenge from today. “Individually, we are all responsible for our thoughts and actions all day, everywhere. We can actively choose to challenge stereotypes, fight bias, broaden perceptions, improve situations and celebrate women’s achievement” he said