Gender Equality: AWLN Launch In Abuja, Harps On Affirmative Action

The African Women Leaders Network (AWLN), Nigeria Chapter has been formally launched in Abuja on Monday with the view to unite women’s networks in all their diversity around a common purpose of advancing gender equality in Nigeria.

In her goodwill message, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Sustainable Development Goals (SSAP-SDGs), Princess Adejoke Orelope-Adefulire, said that OSSAP-SDGs will serve as the Secretariat to the AWLN Nigeria, assuring that OSSAP-SDGs is well positioned to provide the needed secretariat support for a smooth take-off and effective implementation of the AWLN activities.

She reminded members of the Steering Committee that, they would be individually and collectively challenged to provide leadership in the attainment of SDG-5 on gender equality and empowerment of all women and girls in Nigeria.

While appreciating the United Nations Women(UN Women) in Nigeria, under the leadership of Ms.Comfort Lamptey, for always taking lead and championing the course of women’s socio=economic and political development in Nigeria, she expressed optimism that, with the caliber of personalities at the Steering Committee, they would  do justice to the enormous tasks at hand.

Her words:  ‘’As a country, we must prioritize the issues of women’s socio-economic and political development. Indeed, the concept of ‘smart economics’ advocate for faster economic growth and development view women empowerment. We must consistently pay close attention to this for a just and egalitarian society’’. She stressed.

The United Nations Resident Co-ordinator, Mr.Edward Kallon in his goodwill message encouraged the women to bring out their best and develop Nigeria.

He made a special appeal to President Muhammadu Buhari to give women reasonable number of appointments in his new Cabinet to enhance development in the country.

Earlier, in her welcome remarks, Ms,Comfort Lamptey, UN Representative to Nigeria and ECOWAS noted that of recent, Nigerian women have experienced a bruising setback in the just concluded general elections, with a further regression in the number of women elected to political office, adding that this again, requires re-strategizing to overcome the seemingly insurmountable barriers confronting women’s leadership aspirations.

To this end, she called on Nigerian women to come together to make gender equality a uniting goal irrespective of political,  class, ethnicity, age and religion leanings,  stressing that, by so doing, this generation of women leaders can bequeath to their daughters and grand-daughters,  a Nigeria, which will allow them to attain their full potentials

She maintained that, the potential of AWLN Nigeria is limitless, adding that, the network can support the passage of the required legislation to make inclusive governance, peace and security a reality, and can facilitate spaces for young women to fully contribute to shaping the future of Nigeria.

Prof.OluwaFunmi J.Parra-Mallam, Director, National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies, AWLN Steering Committee Member, who was one of the Discussants  during the Interactive Panel Discussion said that, it was no longer news that Nigerian women are under-represented in the political development of Nigeria, stressing that, when it comes to leadership, Nigerian women are  lagging behind compared to their counterparts in other African countries where women have high representation in political leadership.

She argued that women have the rights to participate in the governance of their country as their men counterparts; hence she urged the women to challenge the system in order to bridge the gap.

She said: ‘’we need to reinforce our demands, we need to move from rhetoric to action, we need to begin to challenge the status quo. Gender equality is not something we begin to beg for; we have to address it head on’’.

Women from various walks of life attended the event.