The Nigeria Women Want: ‘Womanfesto’ Presented At National Women’s Summit

The Maryam Babangida Auditorium at the National Centre for Women Development (NCWD) hosted the national women’s dialogue tagged ‘Womanifeto 2019’: A Charter of Demands, with the Director-General of the Centre , Mary Ekpere-Eta expressing pleasure that the voices of women demanding an end to gender based violence as well as a significant closing of the wide gap for opportunities between women and men in the country are getting louder and stronger.
Ekpere-Eta who delivered the welcome address at the two-day summit with the theme: ‘The Nigeria We Want”, described it as one for agenda-setting by women who can deliver.
She said: “It is once again time for us as a Nation to take stock of our efforts in promoting gender equality, challenges and way forward. It is important for us to reflect as Women: The Nigeria Women Want, following the poor outcomes for women in the 2019 general election and representations at all levels of governance.
“This occasion is indeed a time for Nigeria women to set the goals for ourselves and with our daughters who are the emerging generation side by side with us to shape a future and a tomorrow where no one is left behind and gender equality is a norm”.
Convener of the summit and First Lady of Ekiti State, Erelu Bisi Fayemi in her opening remark said it was time for women to re-strategize for improved effectiveness. She said: “The issues are very familiar and have been addressed over and over again. However, we felt that a national dialogue needed to be convened in order to put ourselves together as a women’s movement, for us to understand the perspectives and agree on workable strategies. This dialogue brings together, activists, researchers, policy makers, grass root leaders and faith-based leaders and others”.
“We have come together with our various identities, irrespective of our ages, religion, marital status or physical ability. Our platforms are different, our understanding of the issues may be different, yet there is one thing we all have in common, we are tired of saying the same things over and over again.
“We are tired of nursing our raped and battered children back to health. We are tired of mourning our sisters beaten to death by their spouses. We are tired of searching for our children who have been snatched away from our arms and have not returned. We are tired of singing, dancing and clapping for political leaders only to end up with nothing to show for it”.
“We are tired of not being able to go to our farms for fear of being raped. We are tired of being tortured and dispossessed when our husbands die. We are tired of watching our sisters die while giving birth. We are tired of living in such poverty and desperation that we resort to the only tools we have to survive.
“We are tired being harassed, intimidated and even burnt alive because we dared to raise our voices. We are tired of sex for grades, sex for jobs, sex for food, sex for appointments. We are tired of seeing the driver, gateman, teacher, policeman, politician, bank manager, university lecturer, pastor, imam, traditional ruler all go scot-free when they rape us or our children”, she further emphasized.
Solidarity messages from, UNWomen Country Representative to Nigeria and ECOWAS, Comfort Lamptey, IPAS Country Representative Hauwa Shekarau, ROLAC’s Priscilla Ankut, OSIWA’s Jude Ilo and former minister of Women Affairs Iyom Josephine Anenih got participants enlivened, with the former minister saying woman are yet to win the ‘war’ for equality.
Anenih therefore called on those at the summit to proffer practical solutions. “When I was minister for Women Affairs, we tried to deconstruct patriarchy just like others before me. After me, giant strides have been by several ministers of Women Affairs. Today, we have a growing ministry, with an effective minister, but we need help of all to make Nigeria work for women. We need resources, material and more funds for the ministry to fight against those issues that keep holding women down”, she opined.
Dr. Oby Ezekwesili, a former minister for Education said via Skype that Africa, where Nigeria belongs can increase its GDP by 10 percent within ten years if it closes the wide gap of opportunities between women and men. She called on women to use their numbers to push for good governance and better opportunities.
Still from the opening session of the summit, Dean Faculty of Law at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Prof Joy Ezeilo and her fellow keynote speaker, Dr. Adetoun Ilumoka stressed the need for women to remain unrelenting in the push for a Nigeria that is safe and profitable for women and girls. “When the time is rough, only the tough gets going. We (women) are living in dangerous Nigeria. But I am not here to bemoan our fate or to ask whether we are the cause or we are cursed? All I know is that it is in our hands to change our future”, Ezeilo said.
The summit with the #Womanifesto2019 hashtag also had sessions on gender and anti-corruption, peace and security, women’s health and an Open-Mic session.

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