Governments of African nations have been charged to take gender issues beyond the level of tokenism and proceed to ensure the mainstreaming of gender into poverty reduction and development programmes.
Professor Babatunde Babawale, Director General of the Centre for Black and African Arts and Civilization, CBAAC, made the call, weekend, in Lagos at a Roundtable Discussion for women organised to commemorate this year’s International Women’s Day celebration.
Babawale said: “Governments in Africa in general and Nigeria in particular must go beyond tokenisms in gender issues and incorporate gender planning into our development plans as a way of eradicating discrimination against women and allowing full and equal participation in the affairs of the society where they live.
“The place and importance of women to society and the need to recognise their achievements and contribution to societal growth and development, informed the theme of the discussion “Empowering African Women to make a Difference,” stressing that “there is need to empower African women to meet the demands and challenges of the modern world.
”Out of the 1.3 billion people living in abject poverty around the globe, 70 per cent are women making them the largest number of the world’s poor and hardest casualty in times of crisis. It is equally lamentable that women work two-thirds of the world’s working hours, yet earn only 10 per cent of the world’s income, are limited to jobs with invariably low pay and status and own less than 1 per cent of the world’s property.
“Women are further held down in many societies by laws, religious barriers and customs that render them disadvantaged, vulnerable and susceptible to all forms of abuses, as one in three females around the world have been physically assaulted or sexually abused, often repeatedly by either a relative or an acquaintance.”
Discussants at the Roundtable included Professor Ajike Osanyin, University of Lagos, Dr. Shade Alli, Consultant Physician and Cardiologist, Lagoon Hospitals, Mrs. Funmilayo Adesegun, wife of the Deputy Governor, Ogun State, Mrs. Shola Oladeinbo, State Woman Leader, PDP, Mrs. Idera Oshinusi-Martins, business- woman and socialite, Mrs. Janet Mba-Afolabi, Publisher, Scroll Magazine and Mrs Henrietta Okonkwo, Managing Director, Bucheese, an entrepreneur, among others.