By Maria Famakinwa
International Women’s Day is marked globally on March 8, every year to celebrate women across the world for their remarkable contributions to the society and the world at large.
It is a day set aside to honour women and make them feel important given their contributions to nation’s development. It is a day that women irrespective of their ethnic backgrounds, status, race, religion come together in agreement on how to foster unity among women folk, deliberate on their achievements, challenges and the way forward to re-position women in their rightful place especially in the corridor of power. The day provides another opportunity for women who are the most vulnerable in the society to air their views on issues affecting them.
In order to make this year’s celebration a unique and memorable one, the wife of Ondo State Governor, Arabinrin Betty Anyanwu -Akeredolu launched baby delivery kits otherwise known as “SOLAYO” that will be distributed to expectant mothers across the 18 Local Government areas of the state.
While unveiling the SOLAYO initiative at Babafunke Ajasin auditorium in Akure, revealed that it was supported by the Ministry of Women Affairs and Forums for Wives of Ondo State Officials (FOWOSO) to demonstrate women’s commitment to promoting safe motherhood in the state. “The uniqueness of this year’s International Women’s Day celebration in the state was not just the launching of SOLAYO, it was also the fact that wives of local government chairmen will serve as hosts at their various local government areas thereby promoting participation and raising awareness of international women’s day as an annual event among women at the grassroots.”
Mrs Akeredolu also stressed the need for gender equality as a great catalyst for sustainable development and the only antidote for substantial progress in national development. The First Lady who dedicated the day to women’s common struggle, unison and accord said, “International Women’s Day is a day dedicated to advancing gender equality all over the world. Every year, we re-established our unrelenting and dogged commitment to ensuring that every woman’s right is protected, every woman’s potential is harnessed and every woman’s independence is assured.
“We know that gender inequality in virtually all spheres of life still persist. The gender parity gap is even worse in developing countries where cultural norms and traditions evidently spell out well constructed gender biased system. For many years of promoting gender equality, not much gain has been made so far.
“To change this undesirable narrative, conscientious effort must be made towards empowering women. The empowerment of our women cannot be left to chance as Ester Duflor (a gender issues expert) put it ,”achieving gender equality throughout the socio-economic spectrum will automatically follow development, there is a need to carry out deliberate actions targeted at improving women’s decision making power at both the household and societal level. “
Arabinrin Akeredolu further revealed that in the wake of the gender parity realities in the State and its daunting effect on family health and well-being, FOWOSO has been working tirelessly to improve the socio-economic status of women in Ondo State.
In her welcome address, the Senior Special Assistance to the State Governor on Women Affairs who is also the hostess, Mrs Titi Adeyemi commended the efforts of Arabinrin Akeredolu at improving women’s standard of living in the state as she described this year’s Women’s celebration as a unique one that features a Public Lecture and distribution of maternity kits to indigent expectant mothers across the 18 Local Government Areas of the State.
Mrs Adeyemi added that this year’s celebration theme, “Balance-for-Better” is a wake-up call to drive a gender-balance world socially, economically, culturally and politically. ” To build a gender-balanced world, all hands must be on deck from grassroots activism to worldwide action. Balance-for-Better is thus a collective issue for both men and women. All we know is that women are indispensable segment of the society, therefore, women should take the theme for this year’s celebration seriously and cautiously so as to press to balance for better in our society.
“Let us join hands to end gender discrimination. Let us give opportunities to gender balancing so that every woman can achieve her full potential in life. The struggle to balance gender is a collective efforts of all who care about human rights.” She thanked the State Governor for being gender friendly and always supporting women in the State to achieve more.
Speaking on this year’s theme for Women’s International Day’s celebration, “Balance For Better” the guest lecturer Prof. (Mrs) Helen Ogunsuyi explained that March 8 every year is devoted worldwide to venerate the unique and amazing personality of women. “It is also the time when achievements of women are appreciated and celebrated. It is a unifying platform where women of different nationalities, colours, beliefs, professions, races, religions among others speak with one voice globally to advocate for women’s right and ignite discussion on gender parity.”
For women to achieve Balance -For-Better according to the guest lecturer, women should position themselves as citizens suitable and qualify for leadership positions. “This can be achieved through strategic advocacy and enlighten crusade for training and support for young women on political matters, good presentation of women in policy formulation, decision making and plans implementation, purposeful parental responsibility in child’s upbringing, zero tolerance for gender discrimination, gender violence and gender abuse among others.”
In the contribution of Ondo State former Chairperson International Federation for Women Lawyers (FIDA) Barr (Mrs) Olubunmi Niyi Arajuwa charges women not to see themselves as inferior, but to always believe that they can do better if given the opportunity and be determined to achieve their goals. “Women have potentials in them and can contribute meaningfully to the nation’s development. We are no longer comfortable with 35 per cent representations at the National Assembly again, we want equal representation to achieve more. We need to correct the wrong impression that men are better because women also have the same brain like men. It is as a result of wrongly perceived culture which we are correcting now. “
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