WRAPA JOINS HE4SHE GROUP, WOMEN4WOMEN & OTHERS IN NATIONWIDE ACTION TO PRESS FOR PROGRESS IN GENDER PARITY
The Women’s Rights Advancement and Protection Alternative (WRAPA) Joined efforts with Women from across the 36 states of Nigeria ably led by the Women4women and He4She group to mount a nationwide action to sensitize the public and demand from the government, more deliberate action in ensuring gender equality especially in leadership positions.
This action caused a huge stir in Abuja as we took over the streets of the seat of power. We collectively had a new message for the public: No more second fiddle role in Nigeria.
This outdoor action urged women to no longer restrict themselves to working hard to ensure that men get elective positions but to embrace the new solution, which is for them too to learn how to occupy the driver’s seat.
Acting under the platform of Women For Women (W4W) and HE4SHE Group, this rally took place on May 10, 2018. The theme of the rally was: Pressing for Progress. Participants comprised former deputy governors, ministers, lawmakers, CSO leaders, ambassadors, notable business owners, retired public servants, students and women living with disabilities, accompanied by the police band. We marched through the streets of Abuja before settling at the National Assembly complex to submit our demands to the federal lawmakers. We all later converged at the Eagle’s Square, for the grand finale.
The movement comprising women with some men who were sympathetic to the cause turned out in hundreds, dressed in colourful attires, with the dominant colour being magenta (deep pink) and white, openly canvassed better recognition for women on the social, political and economic forte.
The movement called on government at all levels to create a level playing ground to enable increased participation of women in all spheres of national development. The W4W and HE4SHE also called on the National Assembly to take further steps to create an enabling environment for the elimination of violence against women and girls and curb the growing menace of sexual and gender-based violence.
The movement pointed out with regrets, that even with the landmark legislative achievement in enacting laws like the Violence Against Persons Prohibition Act (VAPP Act), the appetite to prosecute and enforce is limited. Offences against women and girls such as rape, sexual and emotional abuse, trafficking, and all other harmful practices against them are still perpetuated, primarily because of the patriarchal nature of the society.
The W4W and HE4SHE are uncomfortable with the decline or reversal of many of the gains of previous years as they record abysmal number of girls without formal education and increase in dropouts as well as women without access to health care especially reproductive health.
Also the number of women in politics has dropped drastically, elected and appointed representatives are few and there is total absence of deliberate action to advance the cause of women.
The gender policy of Nigeria, which guarantees 35 percent affirmative action in favour of women and the Constitution, which guarantees non-discrimination and parity for women are totally being ignored.
The movement expressed worries about the high incidences of unemployment, particularly among women and youth, which has further increased the poverty rate in the country. They decried the fact that the economic decline, the hope inspired by previous national programmes/actions is being deferred or abandoned.
On other fronts, the exposure of women to violent crimes, banditry, conflicts, internal displacements, exploitation by insurgents and militants, drugs and sexually induced crime/oppression and abuse have made the living environment for women and girls a matter of national emergency.
Yet, women are not helpless nor are they unmindful of their electoral power. Women are grateful for the partnership of men but challenge the leadership at all levels to act on these burning issues.
WRAPA is committed to working with W4W and HE4SHE in collaboration with men to press for progress in the realization of women’s empowerment and development in Nigeria.