By: Mayen Etim
KADUNA, North-West, Nigeria – The Executive Director of Legal Awareness for Nigeria Women, (LANW), Barrister Rebecca Sako-John, has said gender equality is not pitting men against the women as people may want to believe, but an issue of economics, changing attitude around what women should do, giving them equal opportunities, fairness among others.
She stated this during the International Day of Women, (IWD), celebration organized by a Non-Governmental Organization, Empowering Women for Excellence Initiative, (EWEI), in Kaduna on Saturday.
Barrister Sako-John, who defined gender as a social construct used in the classification of roles and relationship of men and women, boys or girls in a given culture, said just because one is a female does not mean she cannot lead, as there are many women the world over holding elective positions in the society.
“We are not saying that women should now be heads of the family. No! The head of the family or household is a man, but a woman can also be a bread winner in families because there are widows, and other women who are working and their husbands are not in any gainful employments.
“It is not pitting men against women but an issue of economics because if you leave the women behind and are not given opportunities to make life choices, go to school, earn a living and comparable income like the male folks, then you’ll see development is retarded because it means women are permanently dependent on the men and then the burden is too much on the men and even on the governments.”
According to her, it has been found that when you empower males and females it fast forward development of the country; pointing out that if we are talking about sustainable development, then women must be carried along.
“When we talk about equity, it means fairness, looking at where the gaps are. What are the things holding women back in contributing to nation building, and if we are able to deal with these issues through gender equality; change in values, cultural practices, I think we’ll get there eventually.
“We are not going to get it in a jiffy but there have been changes in the way people are beginning to look at women as equal partners in progress and beginning to allow women participate in politics. For example there are some families that are beginning to allow their daughters take up professions previously believed as an exclusive for men. So it is a slow process but one day we will have what we are looking for,” she said.
In her presentation on IT, a lecturer in the Department of Computer Science, Kaduna State University, (KASU), Mrs. Salome Mammanjabs, decried the low participation of women in the fields of Sciences, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, (STEM) jobs.
She said that each year women studying and pursuing careers in technology goes down by 0.5 per cent thus by 2043 at the current trend less than one per cent of the global tech workforce will be female.
However she said to reverse this trend as we mark the IDW, more girls or women should be encouraged to go for IT because they need to be part of it as virtually everthing in the world today revolves around IT.
Earlier, EWEI’s Progarmme Officer, Monitoring and Evaluation, Ms Aisha Lawal, said for her organization the event is geared towards mentorship, awareness on how great women could be if given equal opportunity like their male counterparts.
She explained that for this year’s event tagged: “#EachforEqual”, EWEI chose the theme with pictures of 109 women because today marked the 109th times it would be celebrated, to create awareness for equality and equity for both genders.
According to her, the pictures displayed on the wall during the event were those great African women who have excelled in their chosen fields of endeavour in the world and we want them to serve as role models to these young women in secondary schools gathered here today.
“The boys are also present because there can’t be equality without getting the men on board. So the boys are here to learn about women, know how to treat and respect them as well as learn that women can also become great in life,” she said.
A participant, 14-year old Godiya Kaboshio, of Government Girls Secondary School, Science 1, Barnawa, in Chikun LGA, said she was particularly impressed with IDW’s theme for the year that seeks for equal treatment for men and women, boys or girls the world over.