Social policy in developing countries provides crucial assistance to women, but evidence shows that it is increasingly being limited to women who are mothers.
Associating women with children and families is hardly new in society. What is surprising, however, is how much recent social policy has embraced and reinforced this association, funneling large sums of money into prograams for mothers at the expense of programs furthering women’s socioeconomic empowerment and autonomy.
What has alsao been sidelined — or is entirely nonexistent — are efforts to encourage men’s equal contribution to caregiving and childrearing at home.
Consider, for instance, cash-transfer programs such as Prospera in Latin America. Although widely celebrated for improving children’s health and educational results, many such programs operate on the assumption that mothers hold primary responsibility for child care. Accordingly, they disburse cash to mothers only, not fathers, on condition that their children attend school and get regular health checkups.
India’s huge Janani Suraksha Yojana, or Mother Protection Program, is another major example. Modeled after Latin American programs, it seeks to improve maternal health by giving cash assistance to pregnant women who give birth in health facilities. Women’s receipt of social benefits is contingent on their status as mothers.
The Indian program, which serves more than 10 million women a year and has received an annual allocation of about $280 million in recent years, far outstrips most other social policies for women in its size and financing. But it was not always so.
Thirty years ago, the idea of cash for pregnant mothers was just a sideshow to an important women’s empowerment proposal in the 1989 electoral platform of the Indian National Congress party. Called the Indira Mahila Yojana, or Indira Women’s Program, it promised to overhaul social policy and make unprecedented investments in women’s socioeconomic advances by promoting their entrepreneurship, employment, education and social mobilization.
The program was intended to support women’s autonomy regardless of their marital or parental status. It was trumpeted as the cornerstone of a new progressive and rights-based approach to social policy.
Today, however, that program is defunct after a short, underresourced life of little consequence, and it is the pregnant mothers program that has become one of India’s most generously funded plans for women and one of the largest cash-transfer programs in the world in the number of beneficiaries.
The pro-motherhood trend, or “maternalization,” of social policy can also be seen in the overall character of social programming and expenditure for women in India. Since the late 1980s, the total inflation-adjusted spending by the federal government on programs designed exclusively for adult women (including women-specific spending on programs assisting both women and their children) has prioritized mothers.
As a result, “maternalist” programs, which provide maternal health care and other benefits to mothers, have grown relative to nonmaternalist programs, which seek women’s advancement through initiatives for microcredit, job training, educational assistance, public leadership training and public safety.
What has caused this shift toward maternalism? Although domestic factors undoubtedly contribute to this trend wherever it occurs, a common driver across countries may be found in the international community’s emphasis on maternal health as a key development goal for women. We do not have to look much further than the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) to illustrate this pattern.
As many experts have noted, the eight MDGs introduced at the turn of this century incorporated two goals that are explicitly gendered: MDG 3, which called for educational parity between boys and girls, and MDG 5, which promoted better maternal health. Only the latter goal related to adult women. So adult women appeared in the MDGs only as mothers.
Improved maternal health is a worthy objective, and given that the maternal mortality goal proved to be the worst performer of all MDGs by some measures, the international community’s attention to it is understandable. Yet motherhood is only one of women’s roles, and for most women, pregnancy accounts for no more than a fraction of their lifespans. Social protection contingent on maternity status thus fails to provide what most women need during most of their lives. A safety net cannot get more patchy than this.
Nangia writes from Abuja.
Valentine: Couples Share Messages Of Love
Rev & Pastor Mrs Ubong, married for 22 years, and blessed with five children
“We didn’t start on a golden bed but love and perseverance with God’s grace have brought us thus far. We chose from the day one of this marriage to put God first in all that pertains to our home.
“From our experience, one of the keys to a happy have remained as friends. Friends enjoy and esteem the company of one another, talk and express their feelings without fear or intimidation, share their common secrets, etc. On the contrary, couples who are not friends boss over one another.
“It is our belief that love must not be a seasonal thing but a lifestyle. This is God’s command and standard. So in our home, we try as much as we can to celebrate love every day. That does not mean we don’t celebrate special days.
“Because of the abuse of the Valentine’s day and the word love, we now use the Valentine’s day to talk about the God’s kind of love, marriage and sex designed for people of all ages.
“This year, by God’s grace, we are hosting it at Assemblies of God Graceland, at Iwofe road, Aker junction, by 9pm. It is often accompanied with a love banquet.
May God give us godly homes where love rules supreme.”
With February14, the world aclaimed St Valentine’s day, barely hours away from here, The Tide’s Women Desk took to town to capture some couples who inspite of their long stay in marriage, still retain a high degree of romance. Excerpts.
Mr and Mrs Martins Mberu, a Catholic couple married for over 20 years. “Valentine’s day is a day of romance. It should be celebrated to show love to one another through sharing of gifts and praying for St Valentine and the entire people in the world to live a life like that of St. Valentine.
“It is a day couples should show love to each other by ways of expressing their affection to each other with greetings and gifts.
“God instructs us to love one another and this is the biggest commandment of all.Today, many couples are too busy to have time for each other as well as transferring such love to their children.
“God calls us to be brave and to share His love with all who cross our paths. Scripture states that we should “not neglect to show hospitality to stranger.
“In loving others, there are many, many ways to do so, but to start, pray for them. Praying for others daily is an impactful way of loving them unconditionally, just as God calls us to do.
“Think about the people that are present in your everyday life, maybe a relative that you haven’t seen in years or a friend you’ve drifted away from. Resolve to show love.”
Engr & Mrs Ozuru Chibuike Monday, married for 22 years, “ it has been very awesome, God has been so faithful, so far so sweet, come Friday, February 14, being Valentine day which happens to be our second son’s birthday, we will renew our love with sweet and lovely words, going out to places of interest, and showing love to others”.Valentine: Couples Share Messages Of Love
Monarch Gets Kudos For Upholding Okrika Culture
A one time Chairman of Okrika Divisional Council of Chiefs and former Chairman of Ogu/Bolo Council of Chiefs, Chief Marshall Daminabo Ockiya, has been applauded by his sibling and others for performing the traditional marriage rites of Bu-Yaa which automatically qualifies him to be his father’s heir apparent and by so doing giving him the leeway to succeed his late father as the head of the Oforibokakaka’s family in Ogu/Bolo Local Government Area of Rivers State.
Commending him for the feat, his younger brother, Joe Ockiya said in an interview with newsmen in Ogu, that he came all the way from United States of America to be part of the occasion due to the high regard he has for the Okrika culture.
He commended his elder brother for fulfilling his marital obligation as customs demanded, and expressed satisfaction and excitement over the development. He advised young people to always uphold the culture passed unto them by their forebears.
The monarch’s children, Sepriye Emmanuel Ockiya, Belema Okujagu and Vicky Jackson, while also commending their father for performing the traditional marriage rites said their excitement knew no bounds as they had worked together to ensure that he performed the Okrika tradition.
They said that they hold their father in high esteem, describing him as a loving and philanthropic ruler who positively touches the lives of those who come in contact with him.
Speaking with newsmen shortly after the event, Chief Marshll Daminabo Ockiya said he was elated that the marriage rites which he had planned for a few years ago had finally been fulfilled through his children, and thanked them for their benevolence.
He explained that the decision to marry from his mother’s family was borne out of the love he had for his father, late Oforibokakaka and equally because it was an obligation to do so based on the Okrika tradition.
“We have three types of marriage in our tradition: Lekria; Igwa and Bu-Yaa. Lekria and Igwa are smaller types of marriage while Bu-Yaa or Okuru Kaka is the highest kind, where the woman fully belongs to her husband even in death. And the one I did today was Bu-Yaa. I did this because my father was not married to my mother due to some circumstances that are not for public consumption. I will add here that I have wonderful children and I pray God to continue to bless and keep them,” he said.
Highpoint of the event was the handing over of the ‘Okuru’ and the elephant tusk to Chief Ockiya, signifying that he had fully become a bonafide son and Chief of the Oforibokakaka’s War Canoe House of Bolo.
Among dignitaries who graced the occasion included Chairman of Ogu/Bolo Local Government Area, Mr Erasmus Victor; former council chairman, Mr. Victor Alabo; and one time Managing Director of Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Sir Morrson Tamuno; among others.
Women Rights Group Preaches Accountability, Transparency
Kebetkache Women Development and Resort Centre, a women rights organisation, has taken a bold step to promote accountability and transparency in order to address issues of corruption as they affect women accessing social services.
The Executive Director, Madam Emem Okon in an interactive workshop session with the International Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC), the Police and other anti-corruption agencies, organised by the body, on the topic: “Gender And Accountability: Promoting Ethics And Integrity,” recently, in Port Harcourt, called on Nigerian citizens to promote ethical standards, accountability, transparency, and integrity so as to engender peace and progress in the country and society at large.
She said that in order to put an end to the high level of corruption in Nigeria, every citizen needs to conduct themselves in an acceptable manner worthy of emulation and commendation, while calling on anti-corruption agencies as well as the media to intensify efforts as much as possible at building consciousness in that direction.
In her response to if it is only women that suffer corruption and social vices in the society, she said: “Of course we know that it is not only women that require social services: such as quality education, functional health facilities, access to clean drinking water.”
She expressed optimism that if every individual in the society begins to address the issue of corruption internally, there would be hope that in the soonest, it would be a thing of the past.
She charged that everyone need to know what is expected of them, noting that some people are made to feel that they are stupid, weak and don’t know what they are doing when trying to promote transparency and accountability, which ought not to be.
“So people need to be encouraged that it is good to have integrity, it is good to be ethical in your profession. I want to charge participants to take the message home that there is hope as there are institutions that are still upholding integrity,” she said.
She called on both leaders and citizens to have a change of attitude, mindset, behavior in whatever they find themselves doing, adding that their actions should be able to build good governance and better society and not to mar it.
“I am not only calling on leaders, but on every citizen, because people takes bribe, because somebody gives bribe, so am calling on everybody to change attitude, mindset, behavior, so that we can have good governance. If we don’t have good governance, we cannot have those services that make life meaningful.
In his paper presentation titled: ‘Entrenching Principles Of Ethics And Integrity In The Workplace,’ the Guest lecturer, a member of the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission, (ICPC) facilitator, Mr Aveyina Peter defined ethics as those moral principles that control or influence a person’s behavior, or the rule or standards governing the conduct of a person or members of a profession.
Peter also defined integrity as simply “doing the right when no one is watching or the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles,” adding that without integrity individuals are untrustworthy.
Peter stated that ethical frame-works are those constitutional laws set out to checkmate activities of individuals, private, as well as public office holders and where the need arises, prosecute any airing member of the society that abuses his/her office.
He explained that public office is a position of stewardship for which an account must be rendered as it is a public trust as well as a national service for which an oath or pledge is made as a sign of responsibility and obligation to the people being served.
Talking about common forms of ethical risks, he advised that people guide judiciously against such risks, adding that ICPC has continued to surmount all those risks to maintain her integrity.
Peter itemised common forms of ethical risks as non-compliance with rules and regulations, conflict of interests, leakage of confidential information, unorthodox recruitment, compromised procurement, favouritism in training and promotion and abuse of office.
He stressed that if people adhere to rules and regulations and boldly doing the right things always, the society would be a better place for all.
The ICPC facilitator emphasised that ethics promote and preserve the well-being of members of the society as well as guide public servants in carrying out their official duties in order to achieve a united, peaceful and progressive nation, whose social order operates on the ideals of freedom, equality and justice.
He said: “It is the duty of every organisation in the public service to align its corporate behavior with the national ethics and goals.
He maintained that integrity in workplace fosters a positive workplace culture, stressing that organisations known for integrity perform better and as well gain more patronage from members of the society.
Also speaking, a Board member, Kebetkache Women Development Resort Centre, Chief Constance Meju commended ICPC for a well packaged lecture on corruption, describing it as a very welcome development, especially as everybody is crying that corruption is on the increase .
Meju stated that everyone needs to really understand what needs to be done and who needs to do what, noting that one of the things that need be done is first of all, everyone must have to check themselves as individuals in order to know how they are contributing to corruption and have a retrace upon realisation.
She condemned the act of over demanding which she said encourages people to take what does not belong to them.
She stressed that peace and progress cannot be achieved in a nation where there is injustice, noting that in order to achieve peace and progress, everyone must imbibe very high level of ethical standards in their day to day activities.
Meju charged public and private office holders to maintain high ethical standards in the discharge of their duties, while also calling on the anti-corruption agencies to ensure there is no sacred cow, but ensure that corruption check is on all.
Noting that Nigerian leaders are servants, she charged them to serve the interest of the nation first and not their own personal interest.
Meju added that they should also remember that they are in position of power because people put them there and as such they are accountable to the people, adding that they make themselves ready to answer questions, operate an open door policy and be transparent to the people.
She appealed to Nigerian leaders to lead the way that the people should go, noting that leadership is ‘do as I do not do as I say’.
According to her, “Nigerian leaders must ensure that all the sectors function optimally by releasing the needed money that should go to all the sectors as well as ensuring that the people use money judiciously for the purpose it is meant. Everybody should do what is expected of them. If you are in the power sector give us light, if you are in the education sector upgrade our schools, so that we don’t need to send our children out to study abroad. Let everybody go to school here and have quality education.”
Meju maintained that education is very vital and as such it is important to check and monitor what is happening in the educational sector, adding that there is so much corruption as teachers are not teaching the students, thereby making them come out half-baked and as a result can’t defend their certificates which in turn makes the future blink.
She said: “In future we may not just be talking about corruption, we need to make our children employable, we need to make them people that can compete favourably with people from other parts of the world.”
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