Women Can Make The Difference
She considers a field and
buys it; out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.
17 She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks. (Proverbs 31:16-17)
IN 2008, the film, Pray the Devil Back to Hell won the award for the Best Documentary at the Tribeca Film Festival. The documentary centred on the activities of over 3,000 women, who set out to bring lasting peace to Liberia, led by Leymah Gbowee, who went ahead to win a Nobel Peace Prize.
Resolute in their mission, the women forced then President Charles Taylor to attend a peace meeting in Ghana. At the stalled peace meeting, they stood outside in silent petition, threatened to stay on if the men did not commit to the talks and forced an agreement. Over 3,000 determined women brought peace to Liberia after a 14-year Civil War, and helped the country’s first female President ascend to power, proving the undeniable power of women to make a difference.
In 2006, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development devised the Gender, Institutions and Development Database, which measures the economic and political power of women in 162 countries. It proved one fact: the greater the power of women harnessed, the greater the country’s economic success.
It would have been near impossible for Rwanda to heal itself after the devastating effects of the genocide, without the power of women. Women at the grassroots level took full responsibility for peace and reconciliation post-conflict. They combined their efforts to ensure the survival of their families. They organised themselves into socio-professional associations, cooperative groups, and development associations. At a point, there were over 100 of these groups in each commune, assisting survivors, widows, returned refugees, and even working on construction. Rwanda women were seen on building sites working side by side with men or sometimes women alone trying to cope with the difficult challenges of constructing houses. Today, Rwanda has become the first country with a majority of women in parliament.
Charles Malik was right when he said, “The fastest way to change society is to mobilise the women of the world.” As Nigeria heads to the polls in March, women are a critical force. Consider what will happen, if women, who are better discerners of character and disseminators of humane policies, mobilise for the common good, to vote the candidate that appeals to their concerns.
The truth is that when women move, the conscience of a nation moves. The question now is, where are the women? It was Melinda Gates who said, “A woman with a voice is by definition a strong woman.” Our women cannot afford to lose their voices or remain on the sidelines. You have kept quiet long enough, and the cost on your children and our collective future has been unprecedented. Women have the potent power to check the wanton distrust and insecurity that has buffeted us for decades. It is time for wives, mothers and women everywhere to raise their voices and insist on peaceful elections, mobilise and vote in the direction of their consciences and take up the initiative to drive Nigeria in the direction of sustainable peace and prosperity. I believe women can make a difference. I believe they will.
Nigeria Has a Great Future.