2014 Lapo International Women’s Day Celebration Communiqué
Lift Above Poverty Organization (LAPO), a poverty-focused development institution marked the 2014 International Women’s Day celebration in Benin City with the theme: “Inspiring Change: Enhancing Women Equality in Decision making.”
The programme, chaired by Hon (Mrs) Esohe Jacobs, a former member of the Edo State House of Assembly provided opportunity for participants including stakeholders and partners in development to discuss and exchange ideas on how best to redress the marginalization of women in all facets of our national life.
After an exhaustive discourse of the papers presented by Professor Eghafona Kokunre, Head, Sociology Department, the University of Benin, and the Executive Director, Society for Development, Environment, Research and Documentation, Onoho’omhen Ebhohimhen, who spoke on Inspiring Change: Balancing the Professional and Private Roles of Women and Men and Inspiring Change: Working With Men As Partners To Promote Women Active Participation In Politics, respectively, the participants came up with the following observations and recommendations:
- The Forum observed that although a lot of progress has been made in the struggle to free women from the clutches of discrimination, violence and abuse, much work lies ahead to achieve true gender equality in Nigeria and Africa in general.
- The Forum canvassed the promotion of gender equality and empowerment of women in line with Goal 3 of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by making conscious efforts to eliminate gender disparity in school enrolments and graduation rates by the year 2015.
- It noted with regret that women receive 10% of the world’s income and owe less than 1% of the world’s property though they are half the world’s population and work 2/3rd of the World’s working hours and therefore called for an urgent reversal of the trend through a concerted effort.
- The Forum noted that no appreciable development can be made either at the local, national or international platform without recognizing girls and women as equal players in decision making, and empowering, up-skilling and investing in them for a better world.
- While acknowledging the great strides achieved by women in Rwanda, having recorded 64% female membership in parliament, the forum contended that women have been unfairly treated in Nigeria. In the House of Representatives with 360 seats, women occupy only 34, representing 6.7% while in the Senate with 109 seats; they occupy only 7, representing 6.4%. The forum therefore canvassed equal opportunity for women in political and economic spheres in Nigeria.
- The Forum notes that Nigeria must ensure equal participation of women in economic, social and political activities if it is to achieve the objectives of Vision 20:2020, urging women to be supportive of fellow women as well as believe in themselves.
- The Forum noted that inspiring change for women’s advancement in society is a collective effort of all, bearing in mind that equality for women particularly in decision making is progress for all in the society.
- The Forum condemned women under-representation in political decision-making processes in Nigeria and called for a democratization of the political space in their favour.
- It noted that Nigeria will build a more just, peaceful and secure country by supporting women’s equal representation in leadership positions, in politics, in peacemaking, in communities, in business and in religious institutions.
- The Forum commended LAPO for promoting the interest and rights of women and the underprivileged in the society and for strategizing for a better future for women through inspiring change for gender equality and sustainable empowerment through microfinance and other innovative programmes.
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