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The Branded Woman: Any Relevance?

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A brand is a particular product, label, or a trademark. A form of identification that differentiates a product from others. A brand has something that distinguishes it, such that the difference is clearly perceptible, understandable and unmistakable; that gives it a distinct quality and recognition.

From a packaged goods approach, real manufacturer’s outlook is that of offering a product (brand) and radically improving it in order to remain relevant in the market place. Marketing companies usually have a particular market positioning; for example, Coca-cola is the “clear leader” in soft drinks production and sales, compared to other competitors. And whenever a new brand is added there is a repositioning, offering new choices, opening a sales window to the companies biggest profit windows. Targeting to sell in more and more stores.

The emphasis is on making more products, more easily, more consistent and more profitable Eddie Binders, (Brand Builders).

However in another sense, branding can be derogatory. According to the Oxford Dictionary, it can also mean to ‘stigmatise’ such as when a person is branded a liar, a prostitute etc. It can be a short classifying phrase and a name applied to a person. Sort of name calling. This is where the typical traditional Nigerian woman has been placed in society. She has been branded a ‘baby making machine’, a ‘domestic servant,’ a ‘prostitute’, a ‘husband murderer’, a ‘fetish woman’, a ‘witch’, a ‘bitch’. All of these and more are the brand names of a woman in the Nigerian society. These names sum up the burden women face.

Recognising this, the Civil Liberties Organisation, an NGO in Nigeria has said, “The discriminatory burdens placed on women include those of chastity, of making marriage work at all cost, of fertility and fertility control, and the  ‘good’ children and to mourn the husbands to the state and dictate of his relatives. Compared to men, the Nigerian society treats the woman as a little better than beasts of burden ..”

The Nigerian woman has been stigmatised and discriminated against for ages. She has been denied the fundamental human rights of equality to man, denied access to economic power, land and capital; denied access to education, denied access to credit, denied access to political participation, access to make contribution to governance and deprived of her intrinsic worth as a woman. Indeed, she has been subjected to all forms of obnoxious practices.

The UNDP’s Human Development Report (HDR) states that, “70 per cent of the world’s 1.3 million people living in poverty are women. Illiterate women outnumber men by two to one, and 60 per cent of 130 million children not receiving primary education are girls. Women work longer hours than men but roughly two-thirds of their work is unpaid (compared to one-third of men’s working time). “Women’s under or unpaid labour”, claims United Nations Development Programme, “represents some USS 11 trillion each year”.

“Women generally lack access to credit. They are also under-represented in public life, since men hold 90 per cent of cabinet positions”, -Oxfam.

The above reveals the subservience of womanhood the world over. But the woman is a rare breed, rare specie, a brand and, an improved brand for that matter. Women have so much potentials, a basic understanding of these innate abilities and potentials places them on the pedestal where women should be, away from the prejudices, biases, roles, and unrealistic expectations of the world.

Women, carry the burden of the noble responsibility of motherhood homemakers, as builders, as entrepreneurs. The woman is overloaded. Women should discover and make full use of their God-given potentials. That is what God wants them to be.

The UN is calling for the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women, in the last decade the attention has been on how to stamp out Violence Against Women (VAW), some authors and researchers and women activists are looking at what women can do and advocating that women be given their rights and chance. Yet others are drawing attention to the purpose, power and influence of women.

I must say at this point that there are efforts by the Nigerian government of today and society, and the world at large, to make life better for women, making provision for them to participate and contribute their own quota to growth and development. But they can do more. Governments, men and all who understand the potentials of women can do more to promote their development initiatives and alleviate their sufferings.

Most importantly, women can do better for themselves by looking inwards into their innate potentials and seeking for ways to add value and dignity to womanhood and society. This is a human-centred approach to solving the prevalent problem of violence against women. Women should strive for strategic positioning for total relevance. This calls for deep introspection, articulation and clear identification of the inherent potentials, which when harnessed carve a niche, and place them in the collective scheme of things. By carving this niche, the woman becomes a brand of her unique self, indispensable and relevant. She knows where she stands, who she is and what she can do to impact herself, womanhood and the society in general. At this point, she is making a difference and contributing to growth and development globally.

Her value as a woman can be branded. This brand sells, attracts patronage and constantly being improved, she becomes needed, indispensable and profitable. Then, she can hardly be relegated to the background. This is the branded woman that is relevant in society.

 

Gloria Ken-Idehen

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Women

Ondo Women Protest Half-Naked Over Insecurity

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Hundreds of women across four local government areas in Ondo State on Saturday protested against worsening security challenges in the area.
The women, who took to the streets of Oka Akoko, Akungba Akoko and some other Akoko towns, demanded improved security from the state and federal government.
Recent spate of insecurity in the area include abduction of teachers by gunmen in Auga Akoko, the killing of a police officer at Oka Akoko last week, and the attack on 17 travellers on Ifira Akoko-Isua Akoko road by armed robbers among others.
Some of the protesters, who held brooms, were half-naked and chanting various solidarity songs along the streets.
Recall that Amotekun Corps also arrested no fewer than 17 suspected bandits from the North-West of Nigeria when they stormed Okitipupa area of the state.
The suspected criminals were found with dogs, cutlasses and charms as they wandered in the area without purpose.
It was the distress call by residents of the community to Amotekun operatives that led to their arrest.

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Civil Society Calls For Laws To Harmonise NGOs’ Activities

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Some Rivers Civil society organisation under the aegis of Rivers network of NGO’s (RINNGOS) is calling on state governments in the country to come up with rules and regulations to harmonise and coordinate civil societies’ registrations for optimum performances.
This was part of the resolutions at a network Dialogue /Consultation with the theme “Strengthening State Civil Society Networks/Coalitions to Harmonise Regulatory Frameworks at the Sub-National Level”, sponsored by the European Union (EU) British Council and the Nigerian Network of NGOs.
The group also planned advocacy visits to ministries, departments and agencies in Rivers State with the view to canvassing for laws that will harmonise civil society organisations registrations in Rivers State.
According to a programme profile made available to newsmen at the programme, the objectives of the project include: raising awareness and supporting sub-national networking/coalitions of CSOs in European Union (EU) Focal States to collect and review existing frame work in their respective states to identify the gaps and opportunities for better harmonisation and coordination of CSO registration and regulations at the sub national level.
It also seeks to engage stakeholders to improve responsiveness between states ministries, departments and agencies and sub-national CSOs on the need for a harmonised regulatory framework.
It noted that the organisation aims to work in various areas such as: HIV/Aids, environmental protection, malaria, women affairs and others.
Declaring the event opened, the chairperson of Rivers Network of NGOs, Mrs Mina Ogbanga, said the event was to equip participants with the skills for advocacy.
Ogbanga said the task of changing the society is a collective one, adding that the Rivers Network of NGOs will work with every interest group to achieve success.
She said that the donor agencies were ready to fund participants to carry out projects in their respective communities.
High point of the event was the inauguration of four groups charged with the responsibility of embarking on advocacy visits to various ministries, departments and agencies in the states.

By: John Bibor & Oribim Ibama

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Women And Harmful Practices

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The bill for prohibition of harmful practices against women at the National Assembly is a welcome development.
Severally, there have been talks, seminars, workshops, fora, arguments, bills and laws abolishing issues that concern women, especially violence.  But a lot has not been achieved to curtail the menace.
Violence against girls and women has been on the increase.  From time to time, it is either girls are denied access to father’s property or a widow is denied inheritance to husband’s properties.  Even when laws are put in place about things that will help women have their rights, some persons feel that culture and tradition do not permit.
We are aware that some women are rich and may not want to partake in the share of their late parents’ property, but there are vulnerable ones who need to be empowered, through perhaps, late parents’ property inheritance.
Some of the obnoxious laws were made before now without the consent of women. There was no representative to either argue for or against so as to be beneficial to women generally.  Some of the laws were so primitive that even when civilisation came, became difficult to change. Very unfortunately, it is the women that execute the laws made by men in their absence. Women are suffering it.
If the bill abolishing certain practices against women and girls will be passed into law by the National Assembly, it will be better for them.  For long, laws against female genital mutilation and circumcision have existed but some communities with their culture and tradition have refused to put a stop to it with reasons best known to them.
Circumcision of a full-grown girl or lady may not be the only way of attaining maturity. It is a harmful practice and the pain associated with it cannot be imagined.  This illegal operation is not performed in the hospital so the dangers inherent will be much.
For those who still practice it, the menace should be discouraged as that is not a proper way of ushering a girl into womanhood. A lot of women lose their lives due to pains experienced during the process. it was practised in the past when civilisation was not there, it is a different case, nowadays with science and technology proving it wrong, those who still practise not should resist.
It is a right step in the right direction and it is time the National Assembly and all stakeholders intensified efforts in dealing with persons who perpetuate evil against their fellow women.
If the bill will be passed into law by the National Assembly, it is welcome but the fear that comes to mind is implementation.  The issue has been dwelt on for decades, but it is still practised as big ceremonies in some communities.
When it comes to inheritance, a girl born into a family, married or unmarried will be denied access to father’s property but if it has to do with the demise of parents or sickness, the woman and the husband will be mandated to provide a cow for the burial rites or offset medical bills.
If the National Assembly makes laws concerning the well-being of women, community heads, molecular leaders, women groups and associations, religious organisations, Non-Governmental Organisations NGOs and civil society organisations (CSOs) should create more awareness through the media to sensitise rural dwellers.
In this digital era, it should be forbidden that a woman loses her spouse and she is mandated to drink water used on the late husband.
The items in the bill to be passed into law by the National Assembly are in order as it concerns women.
A legal practitioner,  Tam Jacobs, said if one forcefully shaves a woman’s hair with the intention that she is mourning her late spouse, she can sue that person for assault.
He said if the woman is forced to drink water used on her late husband’s body, she can also sue for attempted murder.
According to him, several cases of girl-child inheritance have been won and documented in the law court but some cannot claim it.
“Even a widow who is handicapped may not be able to make attempts so NGOs, CSOs should be in the forefront to support them and ensure that the laws are implemented at the grassroots level where they are practised”, he said.
A pharmacist, Eno Amos said any culture that does not add colour and value to life should be abolished.
She added that implementation can be easy in the cities where awareness has been created but expressed fear that it may not be easy in the rural areas where culture is really practised.
A business woman, Agnes Ugwu, said tradition and culture were made by man and not God and wondered why people who claim to be educated still follow the tradition of ancestors who never went to school.
Ignorance also comes to play here.  If you have watched a documentary showing female genital mutilation and the gory experience the young women go through, is something else.  Some of the perpetrators claim that the practice has existed for ages. Women have to learn more about issues that concern them.
A nurse, Rosy Ekeocha, said it is not about culture but about the behavior of a group of people in the community who force it on others.
According to her, let people change their behaviour and leave culture alone.  It doesn’t happen in every family and if any family allows it that’s their business.
She said we are in the 21st century, certain culture and tradition need to be reviewed to ensure that they allign with today’s reality.
Culture is dynamic she said, but that implementation of laws relating to the vulnerable in the society calls for concern.
We should not behave the way people behaved five dacades ago, after all, we do not dress the way our forefathers dressed.  Time has evolved and things are getting better as it concerns women. We are getting more exposed and more enlightened about issues that concern is.  Information is moving round as the world is a global village.
Talking about culture nowadays, we wear shoes whereas our forefathers never had any.  They walked barefooted
far distances to get family necessities but things are better now as we are mobile.
That should also happen to culture and tradition.  There are certain aspects of our culture and tradition which are practised today that have expired long ago. We should get rid off them.
It is expected that the bills abolishing obnoxious practices against women and girls in the society will achieve expected results when passed into law at the floor of the House.

By: Eunice Choko-Kayode

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