Good day, Ladies and Gentlemen.
It is an honor to stand before you today, and present a paper on “GENDER INEQUALITY before the drivers of the future of our great nation Nigeria. I strongly believe that at the end of this presentation, there will be a ray of hope to correct the abnormalities that has dealt a big blow to our society.
Let me start by saying that gender inequality is an unequal and imbalance treatment or perceptions of individuals based on their gender. It arises from differences in socially constructed gender role.
I will like to state here that women are more than fifty percent of the world’s population. They perform two-third of the world’s work, yet receive one-tenth of the world’s income. They represent a staggering seventy percent of the world’s one billion poorest people. This is a stack development reality for our world.
Please, permit me to use our country Nigeria as a case study. It is an indisputable fact that Nigeria has the highest population of any African country, with a population of over 170 million, Nigeria is ranked the world’s seventh most populated country. Of this magnitude, forty-nine percent are female; some 80.2 million girls and women. Comparatively, thirty-eight percent of women in Nigeria lack formal education as against twenty-two for men and only three percent of women have higher education against the seven percent of their male counterpart. Nigeria ranks 118 of 134 countries in the Gender Equality Index.
It is apparent that no appreciable development can be made either at the local, national
or international platform without recognizing girls and women as equal players in the game of life whilst empowering, up-skilling and investing in them for a better world to be co-contributors to national development like their male counterparts.
“When we empower women, we empower communities, nations and entire human family” The UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon
Today, we live in a world where majority of girls and women face real-time poverty, gross inequality, molestation and injustice, which could run through from birth to death. From poor education to poor nutrition to violence and brutalization to vulnerable and low pay employment, the sequence of discrimination and atrocities a woman may suffer during her entire life is unacceptable but all too common in our global society.
Please, permit to state that the progress of women means…the progress of the world.
I want to state unequivocally that women are Nigeria’s hidden resource, it is sad that over 1.5 million Nigeria children aged 6-14(8.1%) are currently not in school, a situation which has effortlessly earned Nigeria the world’s largest out of school children country-an unfortunate achievement of a robust nation. According to UK Department for International Development (DFID), 2012 Gender Report in Nigeria, “In eight Northern States, over 80% of women are unable to read (compared with 54% for men). In Jigawa State, 94% of women (42% of men) are illiterate”.
Apparently, we have failed to realize that just a few investments have as large a payoff as girls’ education. Some traceable factors to this ill-starred development include lack of funds resulting from wide-spread poverty, traditional and religious inclination which place low priority on educating the girl child, non-provision of educational facilities by government, poor funding of the educational sector,weak educational policies, early marriage, early childbirth, poor sanitation, ignorance among others. Nigeria has one of the lowest rates of female entrepreneurship in sub-Saharan Africa. The majority of women are concentrated in casual, low-skilled, low paid informal sector employment. Only 15% of women have a bank account”.
Educating and empowering the girl child implies preparing her for future motherhood challenges that will in the nearest future affect a family and the larger society either positively or negatively. The huge geographical and ideological disparities of Nigeria, makes her a unique country with though global yet slightly peculiar challenges and opportunities, even as it relates to gender inequality. Human development outcomes for girls and women are worse in the northern part of the country where
poverty levels are sometimes twice as high as in the south. Nearly half of all children under age five are malnourished in the North-East, with the figures expected to increase across the country in the wake of national and international food crises.
Women around the world are dynamic leaders and powerful advocates of change. But space for their leadership and broader social and political participation remains constrained. By mid-2011, only 28 countries could claim that women’s parliamentary representation had reached a critical mass of 30 percent or more. Only 19 women were leading their countries as elected heads of state or government”.
In Nigeria, only 25 out of the 360 members of the Nigerian House of Representatives being women and only about 4% of local government councilors are women, confirming that “women are underrepresented in all political decision-making bodies and their representation has not increased since the inception of democratic rule”. This could perhaps be an explanation for Nigeria’s low investment in sections that are crucial to human development outcomes such as health and education. It is pertinent to note that the quality of our democracy, the strength of our economies, the health of
our societies and the sustainability of peace —are all undermined when we fail to fully tap half of the world’s talent and potential. Where women have access to secondary education, good jobs, land and other assets, national growth and stability are enhanced, and we see lower maternal mortality, improved child nutrition, greater food security, and less risk of HIV and AIDS.
Everyone is equal. We have the same rights in every way, we must all join hands together and crush that social cancer called gender inequality and promote with at all facets gender balances. Gender equality must become a lived reality. We must continue to champion the creation and passage of laws regarding such imbalances, adopting action plans and budgets to implement legislation, instituting prevention
programs and protection services for women, and campaigning to raise awareness whilst instilling sound moral and religious instructions in all including the girl-child education towards a chaste and modest future.
Achieving gender equality and women’s rights in Nigeria and the world at large is crucial to establishing and sustaining developments as specifically addressed by three Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) now known as Sustainable Developement Goals (SDGs).
Gender inequality has a much greater impact than the explicit MDGs. Gender dynamics underpin all of the MDGs and to make progress, we need specific gender-sensitive policies and action across the entire project. This fight for gender equality can only be successful with YOU and playing our individual yet concerted roles towards successful women’s leadership; strengthening women’s economic empowerment; ending violence against women; promoting women’s participation in politics, peace and security processes; and ensuring that public planning and budgeting responds to the needs and rights of
women. Together-we can make it happen, IT IS DOABLE AND POSSIBLE.
At this point, l will like to conclude by saying that adequate encouragement of women participation in key sectors of our economy will trigger a faster development processes of our nation’s economy.
Special recognition to former Nigeria Finance Minister and World bank Chief, Dr. (Mrs) Ngozi OkonjoIweala; Late Dr. Dora Akunyili, Dr. Oby Ezekwelise; Former Speaker of the House of Representative Hon. Patricia Eteh for daring to be on top of their respective profession and chosen career despite Nigeria societal inequality and discrimination.
God bless you all.