$60b lost to gender inequality every year
The United Nation’s Women Representative to Nigeria and ECOWAS, Comfort Lamptey, lamented the fact that $60 billion is lost to gender inequality every year and might degenerate further if the situation is not corrected.
Speaking at the inaugural International Women’s Day (IWD) Awards Gala held in partnership with UN Women and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) over the weekend to mark this year’s women’s day and month, Lamptey reiterated that when women are given unfettered access to participate actively in the economy of the country, the entire nation benefits immensely. “Those that hold the key must unlock the door to welcome women and also unlock their potentials so they can participate in rebuilding Nigeria. Elections are coming up next year and women are already facing so many stumbling blocks even before it commences.”
Renowned writer, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie who spoke on Reflections of women’s leadership and gender equality, said she finds the non-passage of the gender bills very disappointing as this tells women they don’t matter. “We should all be outraged at the injustice Nigerian women face daily. We should give women more room to fail as women here face peculiar challenges because they are women. We must judge women less harshly and support more women. After these celebrations, when we get home, let’s ask ourselves, are we truly supporting women? There is nothing to celebrate if we really look at it but there is still hope. We have made small progress but we still have a very long way to go. Till date, we’ve never had a woman governor or president; there is something really wrong with this.”
“When you see just one person doing something, you think others cannot do it and that is the case with Nigeria. Leadership isn’t gender specific. The fact that we need a women’s day is proof that we don’t have equality between men and women. We reject ambitious women, judge powerful women harshly and extend less grace to them compared to men. Women have to prove their selves from the start because they’re not given the grace of competence we extend to men. Women in positions of power have to deal with double standards; a man would be called confident while his woman colleague would be called arrogant.
“Let’s ask ourselves if we judge men in the same harsh light we judge women. Our prejudices are at our very core and we must challenge ourselves. Feminism is a simple justice movement and the hostilities it brings up whenever it’s raised is proof that it’s needed. We must take a stand and be more reflective. We all have a role to play in the journey of gender equality. We all need to think more in grey and less in black and white because the issues of feminism and gender discrimination happens in the grey areas. The way we raise our kids matters and they listen when we talk about matters of SGBV as they learn from what they hear and see. Men listen to men and I hope men will join in the journey of fighting SGBV that other men perpetuate.
“Some men have stated culture as a reason for rejecting the bill but the truth is that we’re the ones that define what culture is, culture doesn’t define us. Humanity has lost a lot because women were excluded and it is my hope that in 50 years, we won’t celebrate IWD because the inclusion of all groups isn’t remarkable but normal.”
French ambassador to Nigeria, Emmanuelle Blatmann said marking this year’s IWD is a great opportunity to raise awareness on women’s rights because the fight for women’s rights isn’t local alone but universal.
On her part, Toyin Saraki said she was very disappointed that just four out of the many human rights bills that were presented were shut down by the house and the manner in which they were shut down was quite infuriating. “I will tell women not to be undaunted by what is happening and if we’re not given our rights, we must put our foot down and take what is ours. We will continue to work till we’re given the same rights as everyone born in this country and to those that denied the bill from being passed; we will meet at the polling booths next year.”
Kate Henshaw pointed out that support for women is needed across the world but more so in Nigeria as the National Assembly has sent a strong message and Nigerian women need to remind them of women’s importance. “Women must withdraw their support from male candidates henceforth as it is clear that Nigerian women are not seen as equal partners in progress.”