In ancient times the role of the woman was that of maintaining and seeing to the welfare of the family; this was made worse with the fact that she was subjected to the kitchen and bedroom as being the only places where she could display her expertise. It may, however, be a misnomer to associate this phenomenon as having occurred only within a certain continent as some may suggest. In other words, women were excluded from taking up positions that exposed them to the world and made their thirst for ambition linger. So we found situations where women were not allowed to lead political movements and organsations, contest elections, occupy top level management positions in companies, be at the helm of affairs in religious organisations, champion economic empowerment programmes and so on. To some this sort of placement given to the female gender was deserved since their role was basically to “support” the male folks. By virtue of this men (especially those who were successful) had women behind them; these women were not with the men but behind the men. Events have occurred, the society has evolved and overtime the society itself has come to re-appraise and re-evaluate the role of the woman towards purposeful family upbringing, impactful community development, commendable nation building and pro-active diplomatic relations within regional, continental and global organisations.
In recent times the role of the woman has changed. It has moved from being a home-keeper alone to being a dominant figure to be reckoned with in global affairs bordering on politics, sports, entertainment, health and religion. The world has seen women having to champion successful global events that have had their place in the sands of time. It is, therefore, becoming clear that the man cannot achieve maximum success without the support of the woman which makes it imperative for him to have her with him and not behind him.
While we clearly understand how vital the role of the man is, we should not negate the place of the woman as well. For certain reasons she has been described as the weaker vessel and therefore associated with a seemingly perceived inability to do certain things, get involved in certain areas and achieve certain results. Time and events have proven us wrong again! Being faced with the harsh reality of their relevance and power, we must seek ways to continually protect them.
Within the last week this writer has attended two events bothering on the need for women to be empowered and safe. An event marking the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women was the latter of these two events and forms the basis of this piece. The female gender has had to go through a lot of assault some of which are emotional, and others being physical. While the society may have very little control over emotional violence towards women, it has a huge role to play in controlling the continued rise of physical violence towards them. It is worrisome that the aspect of violence which the society can control is the one which is on the increase-the physical. While we commend efforts of national, regional and international organisations at empowering women and seeing them emerge successful in their areas of endeavour, it is important to stop and consider for a minute that these women by virtue of their businesses and desires to go about the pursuit of their careers will need to move around and one of the most convenient ways to go around would be by road transport, of course taxis. But then we are presented with a cold reality when we understand that the number of women who experience violence via this means of transport is alarming. In countries such as India for example, statistics show that about two-thirds of female taxi commuters experience assault. This figure cannot be dismissed with a wave of the hand and should not be seen as being attributed to India alone. It is indeed a global issue! Understanding the fact that there is a problem and having identified the subject around which the issue revolves, what then is the solution?
It has become clear that by virtue of their physical, psychological and emotional make-up, the woman has been perceived weak and, therefore, becomes who may be considered as being endangered species. It is the collective responsibility of everyone to ensure that women are protected as they go about their significant role of nation-building. As earlier mentioned taxi use has become a dominant means of commuting especially among women in developing countries owing to the continued improvement being done to the transport system in these countries. In the face of this we share a collective responsibility to protect women from all forms of assault and violence. The efforts of Easy Taxi, a globally acclaimed taxi application system also resident in Nigeria is commendable in this regard as it has realised this imminent threat to the women folk, by first identifying the problem and then educating the drivers on the safety and security of women who are obviously their most dominant clients when gender is considered. Much as the company intends to garner the support of government organisations and other relevant stakeholders, the drivers come first on its agenda as it is in their custody that most of these violence happen.
Ohajunwa writes for News Agency of Nigeria.
NGO Gives Hope To Widows
It was another opportunity to put smiles on the faces of widows especially the very indigent in Rivers State as the Handmaid Skills Acquisition Initiative, a non-governmental organisation, organised an empowerment programme tagged ‘Widows Hope 2019’.
The programme, which hosted a collection of widows, vulnerable youths, orphans and the less-privileged from different states of the federation, took place at TII Ama Galaxy Centre-Port Harcourt, recently with the theme, “Make Widows Matter”.
Highlight of the occasion was the empowerment of over 300 indigent widows with equipment ranging from grinding, sewing machines, gas cookers, food roasting apparatus with which to start life while others left with various relief materials.
The convener/visioner, Chief Grace Opara, told journalists that helping the less privileged; the widows, the orphans, the downtrodden, and giving them hope where there seems to be no hope, is a mandate she received from God.
According to her, she does this by providing them with means of sustainable livelihood which she sources from corporate support and well meaning Nigerians.
Chief Opara who declared her NGO’s main goal as ‘sustainability’, expressed delight in seeing smiles on the faces of the widows, orphans and less privileged in attendance. ‘When I see the challenges they pass through, being raised as an orphan, I can’t help going the extra mile to make them happy’ She said.
The visioner said, so far, over 500 indigent widows and physically challenged from different communities, have been empowered with one life sustaining material or the other, said her widows skills centre trains them on catering, tailoring, hair dressing, ICT, shoe/bag making and Nylon production, sustaining material or the other. She thus advised beneficiaries to ensure that materials released to them are optimally utilized so the aim of the initiative could be actualized.
On the attitude of some beneficiaries of such gesture, she said that her team monitors beneficiaries by following them up to ensure that the empowerment materials are effectively utilized so as to achieve the purpose for which they are empowered. “We have files containing their addresses. through these addresses, we were able to discover that some of them are not even indigent in the first place, they can take care of them selves. So this time, we decided to concentrate on the poor of the poorest.” She revealed.
In his reaction, the Royal father of the day, the Paramount ruler, Mgbuesilaru Community, HRH, Eze Ejike Princewill Wali, (MRSCTR, JP) expressed delight with the gesture demonstrated by Mrs Opara.
Describing her as a woman with a heart of gold he encouraged her to keep it up, while charging beneficiaries to justify the essence of the exercise.
Meanwhile, the Handmaid Initiative targets at the less-privileged widows and the vulnerable, indigent widows and their children as well as the elderly.
We Need Blueprint On Women Development – Dr Thom -Manuel
Former Publicity Secretary of National Council of Women. Societies(NCWS), Dr. Nimi Thom-Manuel, has called for a blueprint for women development.
In an exclusive interview with The Tide, Dr. Tom-Manuel said over the years, there has been decline in women’s participation in politics and governance.
She stated that apart from former President Goodluck Jonathan who involved women in governance, the present government led by President Muhammadu Buhari has put women in backwaters.
“Now, we have two or three women in the cabinet unlike before when we had about 12. We had Okonjo -Iweala , we had Akunyili and other first brains in their various careers, “ Tom Manuel said.
Pointing out that lack of a deliberate policy to empower women has led to poor inclusion of women in governance and politics. She blamed the situation on poor policy framework, recalling that the Beijing Conference laid the foundation for inclusion of women in governance.
As far as she was concerned the Affirmative Action provided the blueprint for evolving programmes and policies for women world all over.
“When I was the publicity secretary of NCWS under the leadership of Hajia Laila Dogonyaro, we participated in the Bienjing Conference and made presentations for Nigeria. Unfortunately, what we proposed were not adopted here, if not by now we would have gotten up to 40 per cent of women in governance.
“ For me , I don’t beleive in 30 per cent. It should be 50-50 though in this kind of society, it’s difficult, but women should push their way up,” Tom-Manuel maiantained.
Part of the current handicap she explained comes from education. Highlighting education as one way women could compete in leadership positions, she used herself as an example as she currently serves on the board of the Rivers State Housing and Property Development Authority.
As far she is concerned there is no end to knowledge and to her lies the power to change society, as she challenged the womenfolk to acquire more knowledge.
Further stressing on the role of women in governance ,the woman activist reasoned that there is a gradual decline in women’s participation in politics citing the case of Rivers State.
“ Today there is only one woman amongst 32-member Assembly, so what can she do?
“ We used to have four before and I thought that by now they would have exceeded that figure unfortunately it’s not so. But I thank our governor, Nyesom Wike, for what he has done at the local level where all the vice chairpersons are women, “ she emphasised.
Thom-Manuel submitted that women have huge role to play to stabilise the polity, “ Women leaders have a lot of role to play now. They could be mediators, managers and entrepreneurs. “
Another area she wants women to be alert and arm themselves is in choosing their mates and spouses. She believes that education and exposure play key roles in choosing one’s spouse.
Thom -Manuel attributed the rising divorce rate to male chauvinism and the failure of many women to choose their spouses based on educational and emotional similarities.
She stated that many women in the quest to settle down overlook such factors which later destroy the marriage due to fear from the males that their women are much exposed and educated.
“ If you and your spouse are educated, and operate on the same emotional and psychological level, then it will be difficult for your husband to see your success as a threat.
Dr. Thom-Manuel studied in England. She had her first degree in Botany from London University and she came back to Nigeria in 1974. On her return she took up a brief teaching job with the state government. But she went back to London for more studies after her short stint in teaching.
She returned to London and did a Post Graduate Diploma in International Journalism in Newcastle University. On completion she came back and took up job with the Rivers State Newspaper Corporation and rose to become Woman Editor within 14 years of her service.
She voluntarily retired and went back to the school to start a fresh undergraduate programme to read Mass communication at the then Rivers State University of Science and Technology. She went further to do her Masters at University of Port Harcourt in Political Science and later a doctor of philosophy in International Relations from the same university.
Ibinabo Ogolo & Kevin Nengia
Foundation Graduates 200 Trainees
The Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of F&S Catering Foundation, Mrs Faith Stephen, has said that in a bid to meet the requirements of the 21st century skills acquisition programme, her organisation will now include lecture notes, video lectures, video practicals, discussions, quiz, among others in its curriculum.
Mrs. Stephen made this declaration at the graduation ceremony of the foundation’s skills acquisition trainees held at the Omega Power Ministries (OPM) Worldwide, Okoloma –Afam, Rivers State.
According to her, every practical will be professionally captured for future trainees on their smart phones through the mobile application. This process, she said would commence in October with skills practical, using the modern, all in- one equipment with full accessories.
She added that information technology appreciation and application would be introduced by the foundation into the skills training and other innovative approaches which would be applied in the repositioning agenda.
Stephen enjoined the trainees to loose their moral compass in the course of discharging their duties in the entrepreneurial sector. She urged them to prepare to be accountable for everything they do as well as expecting their client’s participation in decision.
She, also changed the graduants to be prepared to devote their professional energies not only to their clients’ needs, but also to the entrepreneurial needs of the society, emphasising the need to make good use of limited resources.
In her words: “Never stop learning skills for your fruitful tomorrow. Always remember to practise what skill you have acquired and effectively put it into good use”.
Meanwhile, the Foundation in partnership with the Omega Power Ministries (OPM) Worldwide, Okoloma-Afam, has trained over 300 persons freely on various skills such as baking, cooking and venue decoration, among others.
Some of the graduants who spoke to The Tide, appreciated God, the General Overseer of Omega Power Ministries (OPM) Worldwide, Apostle Chibuzor Chinyere and the Foundation for initiating a free skills acquisition for them and for the honor done them.
Describing the experience as a survival strategy, they urged other prospective trainees to embrace the opportunity for their good.
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