While the visible features of the woman such as large, or small breasts, heavy or flat backsides, in short, curvy feminine physique could be used to identify her, Dr Emily Oghale God’s presence, a facilitator of children’s theatre programmes and an academic staff of the Department of Theatre Arts, University of Port Harcourt, has said that being a woman is much more than that. Beyond those physical attributes, the university teacher, through her pet project “Being A Woman Workshop”, believes that the real woman is known by being powerful and assertive, yet kind at the same time. She is compassionate and vulnerable towards loved ones without feeling weak for doing so. To her, being a woman means striving for goals even in the face of obvious adversity along the way.
Six years ago, “Being A Woman Workshop”, one of the programmes under the Emily God’spresence’s Project, was birthed. Designed to be featured annually, its maiden edition/inauguration, harped so much on some obvious complexities of womanhood which she tagged ‘boundaries’ women must determine within themselves to go over and beyond them to become who they want to be.
The call to go beyond the boundaries, formed the theme of the workshop that year. “Beyond the Boundaries” was borne out of the understanding that the plight of the African women in general and the Nigerian women in particular is shrewed in several limitations, hence the need to have the understanding that limitations, herein after referred to as boundaries, however lofty or cumbersome as they may seem, whether cultural, social, political, religious, psychological or marital, are merely man-made and thus not insurmountable.
The convener of the workshop, Dr Emily Oghale God’s presence, used the platform to crave the indulgence of all women to determinedly and courageously go above and beyond the perceived boundaries to attain their goals and stand tall within and outside their domestic confined spaces, showcasing not only their outward beauty, but the beauty of their brains, wits and talents.
Indeed, in a world where women are held bound by so many restrictions, where married women find it difficult to advance educationally, where the life of the girl-child is in danger simply because she desires to acquire education in order to better her lot so as to be able to measure up with her male counterparts in politics, leadership, business and in improving her domestic status as well as contribute to national development and proffer solution to global crises, Dr Emily upholds that women must be determined to help other women succeed, give warm embrace to the hurting and build confidence in younger ones as well as be mentors to our tomorrow’s leaders.
The second and third editions of the “Being A Woman Workshop featured “Women On the Edge: who is at risk? and the spear and spindle: should women fight? as themes repectively.
This year, owing to the numerous challenges our nation is facing, in recent time, especially from all the covid-19 related crisis: the lock downs, the economic down turn, looting of palliatives rising cases of human trafficking sales of babies, rape and gender based violence abductions/kidnaps etc, the convener of the workshop. Dr Emily Oghale God’s presence, thought it wise to re-examine the place of gender in the family, and how it impacts on us as individual male and female in our day to day affairs.
With the theme for this year’s workshop tagged:”Gender, Family and A Responsible Society”, Dr Emily God’s presence seeks ways to achieve gender equilibrium in society so as to reduce the rate of gender – based violence and many other unsavoury situations that upset the peaceful cohesion of both male and female persons in our society today.
Trying to draw a relationship between gender, family and responsible society, a resource person, the President of Uniport Women Association (UPWA) and wife of the Vice Chancellor, University of Port Harcourt, Dr Udeme Georgewill, said if the concept of gender is gotten right at the family level, the society will be better for it. For Rev Samson Nitonye, everyone in the family has an assigned role from creation and must live up to their responsibilities if the society must be well.
It must be noted that the yearly observation of this workshop is in no mean measure serving to impact on our women in the spirit of resilience and determination for global competitiveness as it will also help women resist all forms of boundaries militating against their goals as well as living up to their responsibility in life.
‘It Is Time To End Violence Against Women’
While pervasive, gender-based violence may seem to appear inevitable in our own clime, African Women Lawyers, Rivers State Chapter, believe that it can and must be prevented. To them, stopping this violence starts with believing survivors, adopting comprehensive and inclusive approaches that tackle the root causes, transforming harmful social norms, and empowers women and girls.
With women and girls living in danger around the world owing to conflict, climate-related natural disasters, food insecurity and human rights violations, which in turn exacerbate violence against women, this great body of women lawyers have decided to raise their voice against all shades of violence against women whether it be domestic or official
In pursuant of their aims and objectives, AWLA commemorate land mark dates set by the African Union and United Nations to raise awareness about the plight of women and children.
As the world engages in 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence, the body avails itself the opportunity to highlight some violent and of course harmful practices Nigerian women are continually subjected to, as well as condemn such and create the awareness among the populace that perpetrators of such inhumane acts on a folk that deserves and desires protection in all spheres, will receive a bang of the law.
This year, AwLA is using the window provided by the United Nations via the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence, to contribute their own quota especially as it relates to condemning in concrete terms, societal practices that run foul to the healthy development of the women.
Activities outlined in commemorate of the 2021 version of the 16 days of activisms against gender based violence include; advocacy and sensitization visits to Khana Local Government and Oginigba in Obio/Akpor Local Government on 26th and 30th November respectively while free legal clinic takes place in Port Harcourt Local Government on 29th of November.
While the program lasts, stakeholders are expected to brainstorm on how to solve the challenges faced by women, while women will be enlightened on their right as well as be sensitized on how to seek redress.
In a chat with The Tide woman Editor, Sylvia ThankGod-Amadi, the Coordinator of the African Women Lawyers Association, Hilda Desmond-Ihekaire, said her association is quite proactive on issues that bother on women and children’s rights.
She encouraged women to speak out against injustice meted on them by people who are supposed to protect their interest, stating that the era of accepting every awkward treatment against them is over. She enjoined them to avail themselves the opportunity of the free legal clinic provided at this season to vent out their grievances.
The AWLA coordinator revealed that her association is already handling matters of gender based violence in court at the moment and would stop at nothing until the public comes to appreciate that women are also human that should not be treated unjustly.
AWLA is a group of women lawyers with the aim and objective of protecting the right and interest of women and children in Africa. They do this through multi facetted approach, using advocacy, sensitization campaign and probono litigation services on women and children’s issues
16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence is an international campaign to challenge violence against women and girls. The campaign runs every year from 25 November, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, to 10 December, Human Rights Day.
By: Sylvia ThankGod-Amadi
NAWOJ Moves To Check Violence Against Women, Girls … Seeks More Action, Resources
Chairman, Nigeria Association of Women Journalists (NAWOJ), Rivers State Chapter, Susan Serekara-Nwikhana, has called for strengthened actions and resources to address violence against women and girls in the society.
Speaking to newsmen in Port Harcourt, yesterday, November 25, 2021 to commemorate this year’s 16-Days of Activism, with the theme: ‘Orange the world: End Violence Against Women Now’, the Chairman, NAWOJ, Rivers State Chapter stated that violence against women and girls reached pandemic proportion especially during the COVID-19 hit that resulted to lockdown.
Serekara stressed that as lockdown measures were implemented to stop the spread of the coronavirus, violence against women, domestic violence intensified as school closures and economic strains left women and girls poorer, out of school and out of jobs, making them more vulnerable to exploitation, abuse, forced marriage, and harassment.
“We believe that ending violence against women will require strengthened actions by the government through more investment in women and girls,” she said, regretting that formal reports of domestic violence have decreased, yet survivors find it harder to seek help and access support through the regular channels. She further noted that the 16 days of activism is an expression that gender-based violence though not inevitable, can and must be prevented.
“While gender-based violence can happen to anyone, anywhere, some women and girls are particularly vulnerable – for instance, young girls and teenage girls who are employed as house helps . Violence against women continues to be an obstacle to achieving equality, development, peace as well as to the fulfillment of women and girls’ human rights,” Serekara added.
By: Susan Serekara-Nwikhana
NAWOJ Seeks Adequate Protection, Provision For Children
Aware of the numerous problems children face especially with the current harsh economy of our nation, the Nigeria Association of Women Journalists (NAWOJ), Rivers State has stressed the need to protect the lives of children while investing in their future.
The association said this during this year’s commemoration of “The Universal Children’s Day”, that had “investing in our children means investing in our future”, as its theme.
This was contained in a statement signed by the association’s Chairman and Secretary, Mrs Susan Serekara-Nwikhana and Dr Ngozi Anosike, respectively.
The statement described the essence of the day as a time to improve the welfare for all children.
“NAWOJ is using this special day to call on governments at all levels to ensure that every child is given the means requisite for its normal development, both materially and spiritually, while cautioning parents against reproducing the number of children they cannot properly care for but give them out at their tender ages as house helps thereby exposing them to all forms of abuse.
“NAWOJ appreciates the fact that to invest in our nation requires that the child that is hungry is fed, the child that is sick nursed, the child that is backward helped, the delinquent child reclaimed, and the orphan and the unsheltered are secured”.
It commended the Governor of the State, Chief Nyesom Wike for ensuring that the Rehabilitation Centre at Iriebe is operating at optimum capacity.
NAWOJ recalls that during the commissioning of the rehabilitation Centre, Governor Wike magnanimously doled out N250million to the ministry of social welfare, just to ensure regular power supply and smooth running of the facility, a gesture NAWOJ appreciates so much as it translates to giving the children a sense of belonging.
The association also stressed the need to save the lives of new born babies in maternity homes and hospitals and called on Port Harcourt Electricity Distribution Company to as a matter of necessity ensure regular power supply to those facilities.
The association in the statement regretted the death of premature children in the Intensive Care Unit of OPM Free Hospital at Aluu axis of the State as a result of power outage.
“Universal Children’s Day, celebrated annually on the 20th of November, is not just a day to celebrate children for who they are, but to bring awareness to children that have experienced violence in forms of abuse, exploitation, and discrimination”, the statement added.
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