From Scholastica Hir, Makurdi


• Women during the celebration

International Women’s Day is a day set aside to reflect, appreciate and revive the position of women in the society. In Benue State, March 10, 2024, the day was marked in style and its memories remained evergreen.

• Wrappers gifts for women

Women and groups organised loud and colourful events to mark the day. In churches and non-worship places, at community and at village levels, special occasions were put together to reinforce the inestimable contributions of women to mankind.

In Makurdi and neighboring towns like Oturpko, mothers, widows and senior ladies were treated specially by their husbands, children and families. Some got gifts of flowers, baked cakes, candy sweets and trendy wrappers from families and friends.

In some Catholic churches in Makurdi, women wore uniformed wrappers, sang and danced to the pulpits for special thanksgiving and prayers, wrapping up the delightful day, with after mass entertainment, consisting of dancing, drinking and eating of assorted foods.

The thrill did not end in the Church. Some individuals and groups attended to women on hospital admission and those in the IDP camps. Chief Medical Director, Benue State University Teaching Hospital (BSUTH), Makurdi, Stephen Hwande, supported by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), donated wrappers and sanitary pads among others items to IDPs and to women who recently put to bed.

Head, Public Relations, BSUTH, Cephas Hough, told Daily Sun that “The wrappers were given to us by UNCHR for IDPs. The CMD decided to give to IDPs who came to the hospital on that day.”

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Managing Director, Benue Investment and Property Company Limited (BIPC), Raymond Asemakaha, played host to IDPs and refugee women from Ikyorgen, Kwande LG. He donated three grinding machines and cash to them.

He aligned the donation to the policy of Governor Hyacinth Alia, to not only provide women with the means to enhance their productivity, but also empower them to become independent entrepreneurs. He acknowledged the resilience and strength of  women in IDP camps, emphasising the need to uplift them through empowerment initiatives.

Catholic Priest, Moses Iorapuu, said: “When you go to IDP camps today, only women are there because either the men had been killed or had run away, leaving the women to suffer with the children in the camps.” He condemned some cultural stereotypes and popular but unfair narratives, which discriminated against women and limited their scope: “One of such common stereotypes is the right to family inheritance.

“Women are often treated differently from the men because men feel that treating them equally would undermine their manhood.” He harped on the need for a new orientation, “where  women are equal partners and are accorded equal rights with men.”

Iorapuu, who is the Vicar General Pastoral, Catholic Diocese of Makurdi, urged government to offer scholarships to more girls to bridge the knowledge gap between the sexes: “When the Church started St Michael’s Secondary School, we had a girl secondary school, Queen of Holy Rosary, Gboko. If you are bringing up responsible boys, you must have responsible girls too.

“This is what the Church is doing because she realised that knowledge will rule ignorance. The Church has given the example and model for the society to emulate.”

Director, Community Links and Human Empowerment Initiative, (CLHEI), Helen Teghtegh, noted: “Women bear more responsibility at the home front, but lack economic strength. Most of them live from hand to mouth. Each profit made is used instantly for toiletries or household items. So building up capital becomes a challenge for women in the state.

“Politically, our women have zero opportunity to lift themselves up. They cannot afford the party nomination forms or afford to fund an election campaign and therefore cannot contest against the male counterparts, talk less of defeating them.

“What about the growing cases of Gender Based Violence (GBV)? Is it not rampant in Benue State? Even with the law against gender based violence, the implementation is yet to be activated by state actors.”

Secretary, Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Makurdi and UN Women Heforshe Champion, Joseph Gbagyo: “Women must partner and collaborate with one another to achieve their set goals while government at all levels must develop inclusive policies that are women friendly.

“The bar of advocacy against gender inclusivity must be raised for more participation of women in governance, peace and security. Women must develop themselves intellectually and economically beyond vulnerability of intimidation.”