From Sola Ojo, Kaduna

As a part of the activities marking this year’s International Women’s Day (IWD) celebration, women in Kaduna State on Wednesday vowed to keep pushing until they see desired gender equity at the decision-making table in Nigeria.

A Kaduna-based non-governmental organisation called Speak for Life Cancer Prevention Initiative had brought women from different communities across the state to Kaduna to interface with the elite ones, as a deliberate plan to unleash their potential whether they were involved in early marriage or not.

The Founder and Executive Director of the Initiative, Ms Malextive Mimi Abeeikyaa, said her organisation in partnership with several others gathered to see how women could be a part of the decision-making table in terms of political, peace, and conflict resolution.

To her, “the women we have here are mostly from grassroots with a few of elite ones. The idea was to let those from the grassroots learn from these elites whether they were educated or not.

“So long they set out to achieve any goal, they can, whether they have given birth or not. For instance, they heard directly from a permanent commissioner of the Kaduna State Peace Commission, who was able to do well for herself even though she got married early decades ago.

“So IWD is not merely a commemoration, it is a call to action. It is a reminder of the strides we have taken in advancing the rights and opportunities of women globally. But also a recognition of the persistent challenges that continue to hinder the full realisation of gender equity,” she said.

A Permanent Commissioner with the Kaduna State Peace Commission, Hajiya Khadija Gambo noted that, until recently, women have not been appreciated for the immense contribution they have been bringing forward.

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“I believe we all can’t imagine how the world will look like if women are not around. The issue is not contesting what the men can do, but the realisation, the acceptance that there is something unique about women and that they stand to bring 50 percent of what will make this world a better place.

“This continuous celebration is a message, that women and girls are as important as men and boys.

“Looking at the journey, we have made some progress because women are now occupying spaces in terms of administration and political offices.

But a lot has to be done. Like they said, nobody is ready to give you what you deserve just like that. It means women need to keep talking. We cannot afford to be silent. We must continue to ask. We need to be coming together to articulate what we know is due to us and continue to demand for it until we get it”, she added.

On her part, Executive Director, Women and Children Rights and Empowerment Foundation, Barr. Mariam Abdul lamented that failure to have adequate women representation in all facets of national development, the society would not work as it should.

She said, “If we don’t have women in every facet of policy-making, politics, health etcetera, I don’t think the society will work as it should. So it is key to have women to be strategically involved and included in all our development plans and implementation.

“For example, if women at the rural local government level are not involved, I don’t think things will work out well at that level. Women are the best help in terms of early warning and early response to conflict because the majority of those involved are either their brothers, husbands and sons”.

Speak for Live Cancer Prevention Initiative is a non-governmental organisation committed to promoting gender equality, health and women’s empowerment, burdened with the responsibility to be agents of change.