Nothing comes so quick to my mind than the definition of development which means, “A human – created change to improved or unimproved real estate, including buildings or other structures, mining, dregding, filing, grading, paving, execavating and drilling.” The definition has it that development is human activities and actions that turn underdeveloped property into developed property. This unique dictionary did not attribute development to men alone, it simply says: human created change thereby envisaging that women, as part of human, are also capable of creating activities that could lead to development. Women emancipation in almost every sphere of life has greatly and positively affected the Niger Delta region in terms of development. A few and vibrant women organisations like Federated International of Women Lawyers, (FIDA), the National Women Commission (NWC), the Mothers Union, the Women Guide, the National women’s union which in 1953 metamorphosed into the federation of Nigeria Women’s Society (FNWS), the Nigerian Association of Women Journalists, have made some impacts in the region. Niger Delta region comprises of the Rivers State, Akwa Ibom State, Bayelsa State, Abia State, Imo State, Delta State, Edo State and Ondo State. The women from these states can effectively bring a different perspective into political, social, economical and religious development using their experiences as mothers. The current battle against kidnapping in the Niger Delta has made more impact ever since the women took the bull by the horn. In one of the television commentaries, a woman leader opined that these kidnappers and militants are “our sons; they are not ghosts”. Only the true mothers can approach their stubborn sons and arrest this ugly situation. It is rightly said that the way to a man’s heart is through the stomach. Our women by virtue of their domestic services to men have direct access to men’s hearts; a sensitised workshop against these social vices could mean that all the road constructions would be easily executed, it would also imply that our children, the leaders of tomorrow shall learn more and more in atmosphere of freedom, it also follows that our water ways and ports would harbour more ship. Stray bullets and accidental discharges from the rifles of the militants and police men would no more be the order of the day. Gender equality, if constitutionally envoked and politically accepted could bring the best in the women of Niger Delta towards achieving these developmental goals. I was of the view that the President of Federal Republic of Nigeria, Alhaji Umaru Musa Yar’Adua would appoint a woman as the Minister of Niger Delta:- the new ministry created by the President to ensure speedy development in the Niger Delta region the political sharing formula went as usual, men took the lion share. It is high time the women rise against these arbitrary political appointment. Do women’s rights in the Niger Delta exist only on papers? Little wonders why sojourner Truth, the former African – American slave woman said “…. I have ploughed and planted and gathered into barns, and no man could head me! … I have borne thirteen children and seen them most all sold off to slavery … that little man. In black dar, he says women can’t have as much right as man because Christ wasn’t a woman …” Sojourer Truth’s statement provides a poetic back drop to the voice of Niger Delta region based on fundamental rights and freedom, justice, equity and dignity for all. No struggle for development has ever been waged by men alone. Women of Niger Delta are hereby called upon to swell the ranks. The extent and nature of women’s involvement merit in these struggle have been determined by the needs arising out of particular history. No need to say that women have not been spared in the campaign against HIV/AIDS and polio. Almost all the eight first ladies of the Niger Delta region have invited Alhaja Turai Yar’Adua to end the fight against Polio and HIV/AIDS, the Deputy Governors wives and the wives of the chairmen of the local government areas are not left out. Infact, I doft my cap for the Niger Delta women, The FIDA located in the Niger Delta takes up cases on: Violation of women’s rights, rape, torture and other crimes against women free of charge, just like the market women protest against the importation of sub: standard food and inflation. What more is development? Development and growth are two twin sisters that can turn Niger Delta around. The Niger Delta women do not expect 100 per cent sharing formula in political appointments, etc No! They are only crying out that the rate of marginalization of women in the Niger Delta region should be checked, so as not to go back to the state of anarchy and chaos or to reinvite the Aba women riot of 1927. Niger Delta women have the magical wand to cement the diversity among political parties, ethnic groups, religious bodies, among others. Our President in considering political appointments should bear in mind that men, alone, like the proverbial left hard cannot package democratic parcel properly without the support of the right hand. What is good for the goose is good for the gander.
Women’s Role In Curbing Child Abuse
Women have a greater task to accomplish in curbing child abuse. Mothers are the ones who nurture and groom their offsprings and wards whether biological children or adopted.
It is necessary that any child who falls under the supervision of a mother, must be accounted for by that woman.
Shaping the life of a child depends so much on the mother even if certain percentage of care is being expected from a father. The mother starts nurturing a child from age zero till the adolescent stage. She should always do a follow-up at every stage of development of a child in her care.
Within the period of the growth, if there are negative tendencies exhibited by the child, the mother should be able to identify before the child goes to school. This is because the child starts learning from the home.
When you talk about child abuse, it starts from the home and the way every child is treated matters a lot.
The menace called child abuse is something that every hand must be on deck to ensure its eradication in the society. The major agent of eradication is the mother.
There are various forms of child abuse. You may discover that at every form of the menace, the woman is involved and should be held responsible for its consequences.
Of course, it is clear that child abuse does not have any positive impact on the society except the perpetrators of the act who gain from it. Some persons derive joy in seeing either their own child or another’s child being denied their rights and accomplishing their own goals.
According to United Nations Children Fund, (UNICEF) in 1989, child abuse is the portion of harm to children that results from human action or inaction that is proscribed, proximate and preventable.
The African Network for the Prevention or Protection against Child Abuse or Neglect (ANPPCAN), looked at child abuse as the intentional, unintentional or well-intentional act, which endangers the physical, health, emotional, moral and the educational welfare of the child.
Broadly, it means maltreatment of a child. Any form of action that brings about physical, mental, psychological and social torture to the child.
When you talk about child labour, which includes buying and selling most times, a woman will intentionally send out the child for hawking with the aim of making money. A situation where a woman’s children will be in school and she finds pleasure in sending a house help out, portends danger to that child.
A woman should not send an adopted child out to the neighbourhood alone to fetch water when her own children are idle because her role is to protect every child in her care, whether biological or not.
When you talk about child trafficking, apart from when children are in school, the mother should be aware of the location of the child at every time. Monitoring the children should be the watchword of every committed mother. When a woman is careless about the whereabouts of the child, that child can be picked up from any location without her knowledge.
A woman should not express anger on anything the child does at home. A child/ward can be corrected for wrong doing without being battered. It has been discovered in some homes that child battering has led to death or deformity of some children. A mother should know the kind of punishment a child deserves for correction.
Some women neglect their children by sending them to others for lack of basic needs. Every responsible woman should be able to have the number of children she can cater for. While the child is in another woman’s house, no one knows how many meals he or she takes in a day.
Sending a child out for hawking, especially a female, signals danger to the girl. That is a simple way of exposing her to sexual abuse. Some irresponsible persons with the pretence of buying something from her can lure her into unnecessary sexual abuse. The danger in that is that it can lead to unwanted pregnancy, contraction of STDs and HIV/AIDS.
Most rape cases that have been recorded are as a result of sending a girl out to hawk.
There is no harm in asking children to assist in selling, so as to meet up in the home, but if they are to sell in a kiosk no matter how little it may be, a mother can monitor the children there.
A mother should know that giving a child under the age of 18 out for marriage is an abuse. Women must nurture the children to maturity before sending them out because the dangers of underage marriage are devastating. When an underage girl is given out for any reason for marriage, do not forget that any consequences that arise from that will still fall back to the mother.
A mother should not send her child or ward out for prostitution in order to make money.
Parents and guardians, especially mothers, should be more educated and more awareness be created on why they should pay more attention to their children and wards.
By: Eunice Choko-Kayode
Fashion Ambassador Advises Against Indecent Dressing
A Nigerian fashion Ambassador, Miss Queen Fubara Daniel, has advised young people against indecent dressing.
The 21-year-old who is a student of the Rivers State University gave the advice in an interview in Port Harcourt.
According to the face of fashion Nigeria/face of fashion magazine, dressing half naked does not portray civilisation but foolishness.
She said young ladies can dress decently and still achieve their aims in the society, and linked the increasing rate of indecent dressing to pornography.
According to her, time has come for government to restrict media organisations on what they show to the public.
“Government should restrict the viewers on what they watch because people dress indecently and also copy what they watch or see on TV.
“So, if they are restricted, they will begin to dress nicely,”she said.
She, however, advised people to be cautious of what they wear as”it is the way you dress that some one will approach you or address you.”
Daniel said she would soon embark on campaigns to change the way especially young ladies dress, stressing that already, she has begun talking to some ladies on the importance of dressing decently.
“There is a plan to carry out a campaign next year through the trend that people follow on social media.”
Daniel said the campaign cannot succeed without the support of the government and philanthropic organisations.
Also speaking, Ambassador Precious Fubara who is the founder of Nigeria Fashion Magazine and Deputy Coordinator, Africa World Fashion Week said his ambition is to project the fashion industry in a way that would influence the society positively.
He said Queen Daniel serves as an ambassador to the industry and also the face of the industry.
According to him, Queen Daniel who will reign for two years as far as the fashion industry is concerned in the country will also represent Nigeria in international fashion show.
Women And Exclusive Breastfeeding
The importance of breastfeeding can never be over-emphasized to babies, mothers, family and the society at large.
Breastfeeding protects infants against infections and reduces the risk of contracting diseases. It also reduces the cost of healthcare expenses because the baby does not fall sick easily due to high immunity.
One of the benefits of exclusive breastfeeding if practised by nursing mothers is that it protects women from ovarian cancer. The benefits are so numerous that one cannot ignore.
Despite these benefits and more, some nursing mothers do not have the wherewithal to practice that perfectly.
The truth is that nursing mothers must feed well to be able to breastfeed a sucking infant. Balance diet is involved while three-square meal must be available. But poverty and high cost of living are impediments.
Government at all levels and stakeholders in the health sector have developed a lot of policies that will assist women in that respect considering the enormous benefits but much has not been achieved.
Nursing mothers were allowed three-month maternity leave. But they are supposed to breastfeed exclusively for six months.
Not to long, the period was extended to six months. Such policy that supports exclusive breastfeeding should be encouraged and implemented to the fullest.
There should be enough parental leave for father and mother to ensure that the child is well nurtured. Government should ensure that there are breastfeeding breaks for working
mothers and their husbands.
At the level of development we find ourselves, some organisations do not allow nursing mothers to take their babies to their offices.
Allowing them a time to go and breastfeed their babies is a problem. As soon as some female employees have new born and proceed on maternity leave, that’s the end of that job.
Nursing mothers cannot be denied paid-employed jobs that will enable them earn a living because they are making babies and have other bills to settle.
According to UNICEF, the health, social and economic benefits of breastfeeding for mother and child are well-established and are acceptable the world over.
The report said that about 60 per cent of the world’s infants are denied the recommended three or six months of exclusive breastfeeding.
The report has it that, four out of 10 babies are breastfed exclusively, showing 40 per cent representation globally.
It is disheartening to hear some reports in the local communities, where some mothers give flimsy excuses.
It is difficult to see mothers who breastfeed babies up to eight months. It has been reported most of them have financial problems.
Some of the mothers interviewed said they cannot practised exclusive breastfeeding since they don’t feed adequately.
Some said that if they practice exclusive breastfeeding, that their breasts will slack and change shape. They believe that standing breasts make them look trendy, then prefer to use baby formula or artificial milk to feed their babies.
Mrs Ruth Akoye, who works in private business organisation complained that she stopped exclusive breastfeeding after two months to enable her resume work, otherwise she would be sacked.
She said there was no other option rather than introducing artificial milk.
Mrs Anita Umeh, prepares roasted bole and yam. She said: “Is it not when you feed very well that you can breastfeed exclusively?”
According to her, they teach us in the anti-natal clinic, but I cannot practise it because I cannot sit at home for money to come. Since I don’t have enough money to eat well, I bought baby-milk for my child to enable me gain some strength to do my business
A hair dresser, Mrs Uche Amos said only her first child, out of three enjoyed exclusive breastfeeding.
She said while nursing her second child, she became less interested about the policy and complained that her baby was always crying.
Mrs Amos alleged that neighbours were accusing her of starving the baby.
This infact, is one of the major problems in the society, some persons are of the opinion that the baby, who is exclusively breastfed does not get enough and should be introduced to baby formula and water to support the mother.
When some persons come across infants that are exclusively breastfed and they cry, they attribute it to hunger.
It is important to note that a child who is exclusively breastfed is healthier than the one that takes man-made milk. The condition can never be the same. When it comes to intelligence, the difference is clear.
A private school teacher, Mrs Amanda, said she could not continue exclusive breastfeeding for her baby due to the fact that she had to resume her teaching job within three months.
She lamented that it limited her time with the baby and the natural milk the baby would have enjoyed.
A business trader, Mrs Ijeoma Akpan, said her baby’ s joy to breast milk which she would have enjoyed was cut short because her breast milk refused to flow.
Nursing mothers need support and should be granted such requests.
Organisations, both public and private should create and establish creche in their offices where nursing mothers can keep their babies in the custody of caregivers while they breastfeed as the job is being done.
By: Eunice Choko-Kayode
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