By Ignatius Ushie
Director General, National Centre for Women Development, NCWD, Barr. Mrs. Mary Ekpere- Eta has stated that recognizing social and economic empowerment for women was the bedrock of development in the country adding that it was necessary that women were given fair, equal and unrestricted access to participate in elections as well as political decision making from the grassroots.
Ekpere gave the hint during a press briefing in commemoration of the 2021 International Women’s Day celebration with the theme: ‘Women in Leadership; achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 world’ and a campaign theme: ‘Choose to Challenge’ held at the National Centre for Women Development, NCWD, in Abuja, she noted that it was a good opportunity to call out gender bias, inequality as well as accelerate women’s achievement and advocate for increased participation in development and decision making.
According to her, the theme for this year’s celebration resonates the leading and leadership roles women played in the face of the pandemic despite the challenges they faced inclusive of how their representation was affected negatively all over the world.
She said that other prevailing situations of women represented by the face of poverty in addition to gender based violence and social challenges/ participation could be changed as they were man made maintaining that highlighting the levels of consciousness in Nigerian women to attain higher levels for participation in national level will ensure sustainable grassroots democracy and good governance.
“As we assemble here today to mark this year’s International Women’s Day, it is important for us to reflect on the historical discussion on this day. One important area of focus is the documentation of unpaid care work in Nigeria which we are currently carrying out in collaboration with the National Bureau of Statistics to reduce the burden of unpaid care work in women.
“The center is also mobilizing women and young girls especially at grassroots levels on the need to know the power of their civil rights and use of their one vote to empower women and put them in decision making positions. She said.
“Motivated by its commitment to freedom and equality for all, the UN in 1975 resolved to set aside a day to recognize the contribution of women peace and national development across the world. Since then the IWD has helped to create a historic legacy of advancing women’s status worldwide as it recognizes the economic, political and social achievements of women past, present as well as future. It is a platform committed to increase women’s participation in almost every sphere of development,”.
The NCWD boss congratulated all women and frontline respondents across the world for their immense contributions towards raising their voices and making a choice to challenge existing discriminatory structures, policies, programmes and fight against Gender Based Violence that increased at an alarming rate during the heat of the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown.
The International Women’s Day was conceived about a hundred years ago with the first IWD event held in 1911 to mark the protest by women garment makers who were subjected to deplorable working conditions in New York.
This struggle for self-determination and political franchise thus paved the way for the need to dedicate one day each year to press for women’s demand.