By Johnpaul Anih, 8/3/2021
The wife of Enugu State Governor, Mrs. Monica Ugochi Ugwuanyi, has urged Nigerian women in authority to rise, champion and protect the rights and privileges of women in the country.
Mrs. Ugwuanyi, who stated that “it is obvious that women rights need to be brought to par with that of men to ensure equality and justice”, stressed that it is only strong feminist movements that can create thriving democracy and a catalyst of positive change.
Speaking during an event to commemorate this year’s International Women’s Day in Enugu State, the governor’s wife disclosed that the occasion offered women the veritable platform to chart and plan for their future and “how to be relevant and achieve an equal future in this COVID-19 world”.
Noting that women’s participation in politics has increased in recent years, Mrs. Ugwuanyi said that it is “yet not sufficient to fulfill the objectives we set for ourselves, not even the ambition of Beijing Declaration of 1995”.
Highlighting that the theme of this year’s International Women’s Day is “Women in leadership: Achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 World”, the Enugu First Lady pointed out that most of the healthcare workers pioneering the treatment of COVID-19 in various hospitals throughout the world are women.
“This puts them at a high risk, yet they are the minority when it comes to decision making”, she said.
Pushing further on feminism and active involvement of more women in leadership, the Enugu governor’s wife said: “You need to prepare and develop yourself to be worthy of being a leader. Read, learn new skills, go for seminars, strive for the best and leave no stone unturned. Remember you cannot give what you do not have.
“We have had a lot of women in leadership positions. Currently we have the first female Vice President of the United States of America (USA), Mrs. Kamala Harris, and our own Dr. Mrs. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, the first female Director General (D.G.) of the World Trade Organization.
“Let us come back home; the first female Deputy Governor of Enugu State Mrs. Cecilia Ezeilo, and first female Chief Judge of Enugu State, Hon. Justice Priscilla Ngozi Emehelu.
“As Governors wives, we have started in our various states to make sure that we place before our husbands, things that matter for women. Now we have an association called Nigeria Governors Wives Against Gender Based Violence (NGWA- GBV).
“We made sure that various states in Nigeria domesticated the national laws concerning the rights of women and children.
“In Enugu State, the Child Rights Act was signed into law in 2016 and the Violence Against Persons Act (VAP Act ) was signed into law in 2019. We have also domesticated social protection policy. This policy helps empower women and girls to seek justice in the face of violation and exploitation.
“Women should know that there are specific rights to be enjoyed exclusively by women and there are general rights women enjoy with both men.
“The 1999 Constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria guarantees the economic rights of women, where it stated that all citizens have equal opportunity to secure suitable employment and there shall be equal pay at work without discrimination.
“Our constitution also granted us inheritance rights; women are mostly denied inheritance due to some cultural practices. Other rights are right to personal dignity, this right is an integral part of women’s right in Nigeria. Some conducts that violate these rights are rape, sexual assault and molestation, women and children trafficking, female genital mutilation etc; and the right to education, environments, healthy leaving, social and cultural rights.
“It is crystal clear that the above rights are not being enjoyed by women in our country. The way we can regain these badly compromised and marginalized rights is to support women in politics to make sure that these laws are implemented by putting strict measures to its implementation.
“A great leader should also clone herself in many young girls by empowering them (financially or otherwise).
“It is obvious that women rights need to be brought to par with that of men to ensure equality and justice. We urge women already in power, notable women organizations, female judges, female law makers etc. to rise, champion and protect rights of women and privileges in Nigeria.
“It is only these strong feminist movements that can create thriving democracy and a catalyst of positive change”.
He ended her campaign for women at the event with Sheryl Sandberg’s quote: “We need women at all levels, including the top to change the dynamic, reshape the conversation, to make sure, women’s voices are heard and heeded, not overlooked and ignored.”