Women in Leadership: Achieving an Equal Future in a COVID-19 World.

A woman with a voice is by definition, a strong woman.

International Women’s Day was marked on the 8th of March. The global theme for International Women’s Day in 2021 is ‘Women in Leadership: Achieving an Equal Future in a COVID-19 World.’

Taking us back the history, in 1908, where in the midst of very poor working conditions and exploitation, 15,000 women marched to the streets in New York to protest for shorter hours, better pay, and voting rights. A year later, the Socialist Party of America announced a National Women’s Day to honor the 15,000 women, and in 1910 it went global, the Socialist International voted for the creation of a Women’s Day to advocate for suffrage.

International Women’s Day is a day to recognize how far we’ve come towards gender equality, and also how far we have left to go. Back in 1911, only eight countries allowed women to vote, equal pay for equal work was unheard of, that is, if women were allowed to work at all, and reproductive rights were non-existent.”

The story has changed considerably though we still have a long way to go. During the uncivilized days of Britain and other developed countries of the world, gender inequality was considered fit and proper. Women were relegated to the background and were not carried along or represented in the scheme of things. It was widely believed that women lacked the capacity to enter into a contract. For this reason, they were deprived of the opportunity to do so. In Africa, it was worse and still worse. The customs and tradition of virtually all ethnic groups in Africa regarded women as properties to be acquired and owned, and as such, women were not qualified to inherit their parents’ and husbands’ properties. And when you talk about women in leadership, it was a mirage. It was almost a taboo for women to be at the helm of affairs, lording it over men. But as stated earlier on, all these are gradually fading into limbo.

Talk about participation in politics and voting, the gender inequality gap is closing. More women are taking leadership positions in politics. In Rwanda, for instance, women have a greater proportion of seats in the Rwandan parliament. In many countries of the world, women are voting and being voted for. Saudi Arabia has modified its law and women are now permitted to drive cars. Recently, Nigeria’s Ngozi Okonjo Iweala (former Minister of Finance in the government of President Goodluck Jonathan) was elected Director-General of the World Trade Organization. She contested against seven contenders among whom were men, and she won.

More than ever before, we are seeing more shining lights pointing in the direction of gender equality. We are observing the reality of the saying: “what men can do women can also do”, and sometimes do better. In the area of education, commerce, industry, investment, etc., women are excelling, taking the driving seat, and driving the economy.

COVID-19 pandemic has no doubt impacted women and girls negatively, facts gathered have proven that in Nigeria and many parts of the world, more cases of rape, gender-based violence, and child abuse occurred during the lockdown. It is gratifying to note that more women are at the forefront of the fight to control the spread of COVID-19 all over the world, which shows part of the ways women have contributed positively during the COVID-19 pandemic.

To review and ensuring women can access opportunities, rights without discrimination, economic participation amidst pandemics is achieved and in commemoration of this year’s International Women’s Day, Lawyers Alert organized a webinar on Friday 5th of March, 2021 to discuss issues of COVID-19: Gender Parity and Women’s Rights. In case you missed the webinar, you can watch the replay on YouTube ( https://youtu.be/4SAgwZ8Ak6s )or Facebook ( https://web.facebook.com/watch/live/?v=317941519886158&ref=watch_permalink )

MOVING FORWARD

We implore the Nigerian government to formulate and enforce policies aimed at increasing women’s access to leadership roles. We must remove hindrances to the attainment of gender equality. We must do away with myths, stereotypes, customs, and traditions, conducts, and practices that relegate women to the background and deprive them of their rights and freedom.

This year’s theme: “Women in Leadership: Achieving an Equal Future in a COVID-19 World,” is a call for CSOs and human rights activists to intensify their advocacy for gender equality, equal rights, equal opportunities, equal freedom, sexual and reproductive health, and rights, right to education, inclusion, and integration. This is the path to achieving an equal future in this COVID-19 world.

Lawyers Alert is leaving no stone unturned in its commitment to promote the rights and dignity of women and to advocate for policies that will increase women’s access to leadership roles in Nigeria. WOMEN’S RIGHTS ARE HUMAN RIGHTS. Let us pursue this cause and together we can have an equal future in this COVID-19 generation and beyond.

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