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Buhari’s promise to reduce gender disparity

PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari pushed the recent celebration of the 2016 International Women’s Day a notch higher with his promise to reserve 40 per cent of board appoint­ments for Nigerian women. He made the announcement at the National Stakeholders Consultative Forum in Abuja where his representative, Min­ister of Women Affairs and Social Development, Senator Jummai Aisha Alhassan, disclosed that 40 per cent of all upcoming appointments into the recently dissolved Federal boards and parastatals would go to women.
The president expressed the need to overhaul the National Gender Policy to make it more responsive to the needs and priorities of Nige­rian women and to ensure its align­ment with internationally agreed standards. The primary message he wants to get across to the womenfolk and all Nigerians, Senator Alhassan explained, is that women and girls are at the centre of his administra­tion.
We commend the President for this gesture which will go a long way to reassure Nigerian women who were feeling a bit let down by his inability to meet the 35 per cent “affirmative action” election promise in his earlier appoint­ments. Indeed, Buhari watchers would see this as a revolution, when compared with his record as a military head of state who did not appoint a single woman to high office.
The International Women’s Day, however, offers the world an opportunity to pause and think about the status, role, and well-being of women. Some of the realities are truly disconcerting. The gender report of the World Economic Fo­rum in 2015 shocked the world with the finding that it would take 227 years for women to achieve gender equality in the work place, and 117 years for corpo­rate organisations and governments to be equally led by women. Yet, these grim statistics do not dispute the fact that women are endowed with many special gifts that give them superior judgment in certain areas; and that they possess certain traits and intelligence which could achieve great results for humanity.
It is fortunate that much of the world has now accepted the reality that the state of human progress in any nation is always a reflection of how well women are treated; and the level of responsibility entrusted to women is always a reflec­tion of the level of development of any society.
The world’s “Sustainable Development Goals” have as Goal No. 5 the achieve­ment of ‘Gender Equality.’ By 2030, it is hoped that all Nigerian girls would have access to early childhood care and pre-primary education. It is hoped that then, all forms of discrimination against women and girls would have ended, and all forms of violence against women and girls, including trafficking and sexual exploitation, would be outlawed. By 2030, it is hoped that all harmful practices like child marriages, forced marriages and female genital mutilation would have become things of the past.
Unfortunately, it is the girl who has to drop out, even when she is the more brilliant, so that her brother can continue schooling. When times are hard, it is the women who have to work all day long to sustain the family. The staying power of women in any human endeavour requiring patience and endurance puts women in a special place, and humanity owes them a debt.
In high office, women may not all be angels but they have tended to show temperance, not the ruthlessness of looters without conscience which we have seen in some of our male leaders. They may want more comfort, but our gov­ernments ought to provide comfort for conscientious and productive public servants. We are yet to have an elected female state governor.
We urge all state governors to take a cue from the president’s announcement and aim to reserve up to 40 per cent of political appointments for women. We believe suitably qualified women for these positions can always be found. We urge the Federal Government to set in motion the process for the revision and abolition of all the laws that discriminate against women. Discriminatory cul­tural practices such as those relating to women ownership of landed property, the inheritance of women through levirate marriages and female circumcision should be stopped. We urge the president to fulfill his pledge and stand up in support of Nigerian women.

This post was syndicated from The Sun News. Click here to read the full text on the original website.

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