Executive Director of African Heritage Institution, Professor Ufo Okeke-Uzodike, has expressed worry over the prevailing unequal treatment experienced by women.
According to him, while ample evidence exists that there have been substantial improvements on gender parity in most countries globally over the past few decades, much still remains to be done to ensure reasonable parity between men and women.
He spoke while briefing journalists on the forthcoming “Big Ideas Podium” taking place on September 24th, this year. He noted that the latest edition of the Global Gender Gap Report by the World Economic Forum, which measures the gaps between women and men across four crucial areas comprising health, education, economy and politics, revealed that Nigeria is one of the few countries that actually scored lower overall in 2018 than it did in the 2017 Gender Gap Report.
Nigeria, he said, remains a hostile place for women and girls to live, adding that statistics showed that overall, Nigeria ranks 133 globally out of 149 countries assessed for the 2018 report.
Specifically, Nigeria ranks 79 on “Economic Participation and Opportunity”; 140 on “Educational Attainment”; 132 on “Health and Survival”; and 139 on “Political Empowerment”, he said.
He stated that the implications are clear. “Currently, Nigeria is basically one of the
worst places to live on earth if you are poor, and especially if you are a poor woman. The September 24th Big Ideas Podium seeks to table the issue of Gender Disparity with a view to seek solutions and identify good ideas on how best to resolve the challenge of gender-based
exclusion and oppression in our society as explicitly underscored in the Nigerian constitution”.
He explained further that Chapter II of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) stated emphatically that, “The state social order is founded on ideals of Freedom, Equality and Justice.
“And, in pursuit of that social order, the Nigerian constitution is clear that: every citizen shall have equality of rights, obligations and opportunities before the law; the sanctity of the human person shall be recognized and human dignity shall be maintained and enhanced.”
He expressed sadness that, “our decision makers have been slow in championing the ambitions of the national constitution. Rather than becoming the trump card for decision-makers in the struggle to ensure nation-building and national integration, gender issues have remained a blight for a country that remains slow to transform gender-based access and opportunities.
“The net effect for all is that Nigeria has remained a shell of the country that it can be if only it chooses to embrace social inclusion, especially with regard to women,” he stated.
Noting that the potential remains and could still be harnessed, Professor Okeke-Uzodike added: “I must repeat that as with the rest of the world, Nigeria cannot turn its back to its future. All efforts to do so are assured to be futile and would only serve to deepen the rut that has continued to weaken our political economy and prospects going forward.”
He urged members of the public, leaders of traditional institutions, politicians, the clergy, and media practitioners, to partner AfriHeritage to raise the alarm over the growing isolation of Nigeria globally as a country where social exclusion remains rampant and gender remains a source
of continuing physical and psychological oppression.
The “Big Ideas Podium” will hold at the AfriHeritage Institute, Independence Layout, Enugu, and would feature prominent gender experts and human rights activists. Dr. Joe Okei-Odumakin, the keynote speaker, will dwell on “Gender Disparity and Underdevelopment in Nigeria”.