The inequality between men and women would cost West African countries, especially Nigeria, the realization of the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations, the West Africa Civil Society Initiative and BAOBAB for Women’s Human Rights have warned.
They, therefore, demanded that men and women should be given equality in politics, government, economy, and other spheres of life.
The Executive Director of BAOBAB, Dr. Bunmi Dipo-Salami and Executive Director of WACSI, Nana
Santua Afadzinu, stated these in separate interviews with The PUNCH in Abuja during the West Africa intergenerational feminist forum with the theme: ‘Building collective power for gender equality and justice’, with participants from seven countries.
According to them, society will not move forward without women reaching their full potential and having all opportunities.
Dipo-Salami said, “Of course, when there is inequality, there can’t be growth, that will be like clapping with one hand. So, if you want to reach a goal and there are a million people and you want only 500,000 people to work towards the actualization of that goal and you leave out an entire 500,000 you are not going to be successful.
“So, we should stop clapping with one hand, we should stop running, trying to run with just one leg and we should stop trying to fly with just one wing in Nigeria. If we will bring women to the table and be partners as God has created all of us, Nigeria will be a better country, we will achieve the SDGs and we will be able to find solutions to the raging problems that we have on ground, at the moment. Right now, the men are running the show in Nigeria and they are running Nigeria aground.”
She also described women as victims of double jeopardy in the current security challenges, including terrorism and banditry.
The BAOBAB ED said, “For women when we talk about insecurity, it is double jeopardy. When insecurity affects a man, if a man is kidnapped for instance, that man is not raped. A woman is raped, a ransom is asked on her head and sometimes she is killed.
“When armed robbers visit a home, it is the women that are at risk. When a community is displaced, it is women that will have to figure out what happens to their children; if a woman has seven children, she is thinking of fleeing with her seven children and the man just picks up his bag and with the clothes on his back and he is out.
“When you also go to the Internally Displaced Person camps, you will now have sex for food, that women have to make themselves available to the personnel in camp before they get the ration that will feed them and their children, that doesn’t happen to men. So even when they are fleeing insecurity and you have military personnel, women have to give them sex to be able to get safety.”
Afadzinu said common issues have been affecting women and girls, in the West African sub-region, and the problems can be tackled through joint efforts.
He said, “So, you have corruption, poverty, insecurity and poor women’s participation. West Africa is very poor in terms of women’s participation; it is the poorest on the continent.
“So, it is very important for us to link hands and to raise one another and to learn from one another. We have to be more intentional about the intergenerational relationships because as we know, it is constant that we all grow older and we have different generations and when we have so many issues, so many challenges to women’s development.
“It is very critical that we link hands across generations to address those issues, to have a common front, to have a common ground, to also learn about what the issues are for different generations