Ondo State First Lady and Founder of Breast Cancer Association of Nigeria (BRECAN), Mrs. Betty Anyanwu-Akeredolu, has advocated the need to help develop the technical capacity of girls and broaden their intellectual capability.
Mrs. Akeredolu mentioned this, today, in herGoodwill Message as a Guest Speaker
at the Vanguard Newspaper International Women’s Day Round Table, whose theme was #ChooseToChallenge; Nigerian Women and Post COVID Resilience.
She said, “We must invest to build the capacity of our girls, broaden their intellectualism, give them that inner strength; that self-esteem; that self-worth that gives them the strong conviction that they are in no way the lesser version of men. When our girls are educated, the female folk will be protected and the nation will experience good development.
“We have demonstrated it to our girls and women in Ondo State that it is no rocket science to embrace digital technology. We have shown our young girls even at the primary school level that they can key into the digital world. Most of our women are missing out on the benefits of interventions from some of the government agencies, like the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and others because they lack the requisite information. Those with the right information but lacking the technological know-how still miss out on the advantages.”
Arabirin Betty Anyanwu-Akeredolu who participated virtually in the programme, decried the rate at which women are marginalised and subjugated. She said women need strategies to win the battle of men’s domination. In her words,
“The recognition of the need to have more women in leadership positions is there already, but we need to strategize to change the narrative. It’s no longer about sloganeering, it is about strategies. We need to go all out and get it done. We need to go back to the drawing board. There are women out there, even the educated ones.
We really mean business.
“Our women have been so marginalised for too long, subjugated due to no fault of theirs by the society at large, so we felt that to change the narrative, we have to reach out to the younger generation and make them realise that they do matter. And the process begins with information, making them key into what’s happening around them. It is about time we took decisive actions for a gender-balanced world, a gender-balanced nation. We must work to be on the decision making table in order to ensure our women are protected.If we don’t, nothing will change.”
Arabirin lamented the impacts of Covid 19 pandemic on the womenfolk, saying: “The impact of crises have always been heavy on women and girls and Covid-19 was no exception. While more men died from covid-19, a lot more women were forced into socio-economic disasters. Although this was a global issue, the effect on women living in developing Nations with high patriarchal social system like Nigeria is even worse.
“Prior to covid-19, Nigeria women experienced poor access to healthcare services, due to barriers like cost and distance. With the diversion of Government funds to covid-19 related interventions, sexual and reproductive health services became scarcely available, further worsening maternal and child health outcomes. The economic impact of Covid-19 isn’t gender balanced. With the informal economic sector being the most hit by the pandemic a lot of women were forced to lose their source of livelihood. Women working in the formal sector were also heavily hit.
“Most companies realised they had little need for receptionists, secretaries and office assistants. These are positions well dominated by women. This underscores the need for innovative programmes that can build the capacity of our women to transit from mundane analogue-based professions to the digital economy. With the mandatory stay-at-home order, more women were restricted to homes headed by abusive men” she said.
According to Mrs. Akeredolu, “There was a spike in the incidence of gender-based violence in the country during the pandemic. In fact, the violence took a new turn as more young girls became victims of rape and other forms of sexual abuse by relatives, some even by their fathers. The pandemic has further proved that the Nigeria socio-political system is unfavourable to the welfare and protection of women and girls. We are currently sailing on troubled waters and the captains of the ship seem to have taken their hands off the wheel. Our women continue to bear the brunt of the covid-19 pandemic and this should steer us up for action.”