The Executive Director of Healthy Living and Women Empowerment Initiative (HELWEI), a non-governmental, community-based organisation in Lagos, Ebere Okey-Onyema has made a call for gender equality and equal treatment for women.
Okey-Onyema made the call while leading groups of women in Egbe-Idimu Local Council Development Area in Lagos as part of the activities marking this year’s International Women’s Day.
According to the Executive Director, “March 8 is International Day for Women. It gives a platform to celebrate women in different spheres of influence, address the challenges and seek governments and non-state actors’ commitment to ameliorate the challenges of inequality against women. To this end, HELWEI is marking the day with the theme, ‘Awareness Creation on Sexual and Gender-Based Violence.’”
The group also used the opportunity to call on the National Assembly to reconsider the bills rejected during the recent voting on the constitution amendment at both the Senate and the House of Representatives, adding that Nigeria cannot go forward as expected without proper representation of women in the scheme of things.
The women drawn from Lagos State Council of Trade and Artisans Association (LASCOTA), Egbe/Idimu Zone and HELWEI/WVL Entrepreneur Ambassadors Platform were out en masse to sensitise Egbe/Idimu LCDA community members. They carried placards with various inscriptions such as “Break The Bias”, “Give Love, Not Blow”, “Rape Is Evil”, “We are Different, We are Equal”, “No Means No”, “Silence Encourages The Tormentor, Never The Tormented.” They marched through Pipeline through Idimu, Isheri and environs, addressing passers-by and motorists. They also stopped at the Local Government to register their message.
Among the women present were Idowu Shokoya, the State ex-officio of LASTFADAN, and Liadi Lynda, secretary, LASTFDAN Egbe/Idimu, who noted that the rally would bring changes as the distributed flyers contained information to help people speak up. The President of Fruit Sellers Association in Lagos State, Adenike Amusa, was positive that the advocacy would bring about changes in society.
Representing the Community Development Association (CDC), Ejiro Omagbe is delighted at the awareness creation and called for scale up in other communities including schools.
Similarly, female agro-entrepreneurs, Bunmi Otuya of Renny Foods, and Flourish Uduak of Bengee Foods, expressed their gladness over the advocacy.
Otuya, who also is a domestic Violence Survivor, is particularly grateful for the awareness that the organisation is creating through the International Women’s Day.
International Women’s Day (IWD), celebrated every March 8, is a global day to celebrate the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women. The women’s day has been celebrated for well over a century, with the first one in 1911. The day marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity. Significant activity is witnessed worldwide as groups come together to celebrate women’s achievements or rally for women’s equality.
Ebere Okey-Onyema, who noted that the campaign theme for International Women’s Day 2022 is #BreakTheBias, said: “Whether deliberate or unconscious, bias makes it difficult for women to move ahead. Knowing that bias exists isn’t enough, we must speak up and out, our voices must be heard.”
According to her, women and girls are subject to all manners of abuses and we want to change the narrative.
Healthy Living and Women Empowerment Initiative (HELWEI) is a registered, non –governmental organisation with the vision to promote health and well-being of women and girls through the improvement of their socio-economic condition through education, leadership training, advocacy, livelihood improvement and nutrition, proper sanitation, and increased awareness on other positive lifestyles. The organisation has been working with women in Egbe-Idimu LCDA in the area of empowerment and skills acquisition.
This programme is in collaboration with Women’s Rights and Health Project (WRAHP) under the Women’s Voice and Leadership Project supported by ActionAid Nigeria and funded by Global Affairs Canada.