As part of this celebration, a group, the Abuja City Toastmasters Club, called for more inclusion of women in leadership positions.
The group made the call in Abuja Thursday at a meeting of Abuja City Toastmasters Club in collaboration with AFEX Commodities Exchange Limited with the theme ‘Realizing Women’s Rights.’
The group, which includes women drawn from the Church, the Corporate World, Business and other segments of society, called for respect, fairness, equity and a level playing ground to make the country better economically, socially, financially, culturally and otherwise.
Growing GDP by 25 per cent
A panellist, Binta Max-Gbinije, said women through the support of men, could further move Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) further by 25 per cent in 5 years.
She said that women possess a lot of potentials which could help any nation advance economically and socially.
She also said the society, through a deliberate move by men, has succeeded in disenfranchising women from using those innate talents.
”Men must come into the party, we need he for she; men who buy into the agenda. Half of our population is made up of women so we need men to join in the fight.
“If we get men come into the party we can actually move our GDP by 25 per cent in 5years. That is what can happen. Let the men come on board, we need one another, ” she said.
Atuonwu Adanna said women, regardless of the sector they fall into, have continued to remain a strong force in any nation’s economic development.
Speaking on poor representation of women in leadership positions, Oduenyi Okonkwo said there were possibilities that men are afraid women could shove them aside and take over the reins of power by calling the shots.
This, she said is clear in the six per cent representation of women in the National Assembly.
“We have made some progress with respect to women’s right but there are a lot of girls out of school, we have a law of 35 affirmative actions to give women a voice.
“In 1999 we had 3 per cent, at some point, we had 8 per cent but now we have 6 per cent in the National Assembly.
”This poses a lot of constraints and barriers; how can a 6 per cent representation of women make laws that will benefit the huge population of women which is made up of almost 49 per cent?”
Improvement so far
Ms. Max-Gbinije said women have succeeded in pushing their way up to take places at the table.
“Things are changing; before now women are not being given their place at the table but they had to push their way to take their place. Gladly more women are coming out to take their place.
“Besides the National Assembly, groups and individuals can intentionally and proactively change the policies. Employers must begin to adapt to the realities of our time that women can deliver on their jobs despite the issues they are surrounded with,” she said.
She advised women not to give in to the pressure of men. “Please keep your shine, no man should keep you under no matter what. Don’t let any man talk you down, continue to rise and make progress, ” she said.
Tracy Ekpe, a member of the group, raised concerns over the poor availability of information on the achievements of women in Nigeria for the younger and upcoming generations.
“There is no enough information for the younger generation to know what women have faced in this country. We don’t know much about women, history is being lost.
“We need a robust platform to celebrate women’s achievements to honour women who have contributed immensely to the nation.”
Better days ahead
The President of the group, Montaz Abubakar, urged women not to give up but continue in the struggle to take their rightful place at the table.
He noted that although he will continue to advocate for women’s rights.
“Things are getting better and the future looks brighter for women in general. We encourage women to continue to struggle, sit at the table and let’s keep it going.
“Am generally not for equality, I for one don’t think that you should treat a woman same way you treat a man, I am for equity.
“We should recognize the differences between a man and a woman and treat both genders based on their needs and aspirations,” he said.