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Women Day: ILO, NLC seek action to improve gender equality



Women Day: ILO, NLC seek action to improve gender equality


The International Labour Organisation (ILO) and the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) have called for accelerated action to improve progress on gender equality at workplace.

The ILO and the NLC made the call in separate statements made available to newsmen on Friday in Abuja to mark the 2019 International Women Day.

The theme of the 2019, Women Day Celebration is, ”Balance for Better.”

Mr Guy Ryder, ILO Director General said that there was need to accelerate action to improve progress on gender equality at work place.

According to him, we need to implement a transformative agenda that includes enforcement of laws and regulations.

”Perhaps, we may even need to revisit those laws and regulations that are backed by investment in services that level the playing field for women.

”This include: care and social protection, and a more flexible approach to both working hours and working careers. And there is the persistent attitudinal challenge of attitudes to women joining the workforce and their place in it.

”We know much more now about gender gaps and what drives them, and what needs to be done to make meaningful progress on gender equality in the world of work,” he said.

Also, Mrs Mercy Okezie, NLC Chairperson National Women Commission, said that 818 million women globally have experienced gender inequality at workplace.

She said that the theme was apt and aimd at addressing the widening gap of inequalities in the world of work.

According to her, globally, 818 million women have experienced violence and harrassment, marginalisation, discrimination against race, class caste disability, gender identity, migrant status, indigenous status or age.

She said that gender based violence alone costs businesses billions in terms of lost productivity, reputation and litigation.

”In Nigeria, at the just concluded NLC National Delegate Conference in line with the International Labour Convention we adopted a sexual harassment in the workplace policy. We hope to seize this opportunity to sensitive the Nigerian women and popularise this policy.

”Also, in spite of the earlier struggle, education and sensitisation and similar movements put across to firmly bring gender issues to public eye and on the political agenda, we notice determined backlash with discriminatory movements challenging democratic societies.

”We also notice discrimination and inequality continue to characterise and share our unions and work, relegating women to lower pay, low quality jobs and precarious working conditions,” she said.

The NLC Chairperson added that this year’s theme provides a unified guide to sensitise and spur to action plans and activities reinforcing the theme all and certainly not a one off celebration that ends today.

Okezie said that everyone has a part to play at times, while urging all to do anything humanly possible to enthrone a gender balance world.

She called for zero tolerance to sexual harassment, domestic violence, trafficking in persons, all forms of discrimination, harmful traditional practices, child marriage, slavery and servitude.

”Fellow sisters, it is time to unsettle, shakeup, and uproot the settled bias against women, join the international law to call on gender based violence and harassment. The time to act is now,” she said.


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Anniversary: Zamfara Govt constructs 14 hospitals for women/children 



The Zamfara State Government on Tuesday said that it had built modern hospitals  for women and children at the headquarters of each of its 14 local government areas of the state within its one year in office.


The State Commissioner for Health, Alhaji Yahaya Kanoma, disclosed this to newsmen in Gusau.


Kanoma said that the facilities were part of the state government’s commitments under Gov. Bello Matawalle-led  administration.


He said Matawalle immediately after his inauguration came up with policies that would  improve the healthcare of the citizens of the state.


“Part of the policies is the establishment of modern hospitals for women and children at  the headquarters of each of the 14 local government areas of the state.


“We have completed all the hospitals, we have bought  medical equipment, and we were only delayed in the distribution of the equipment to the hospitals due to the  COVID-19 pandemic challenges.


According to him, part of the achievements recorded during the one year in office of the governor’s administration is the re-awarding of the contract for the renovation of Shinkafi Referral Hospital that had been abandoned several years ago  by the previous administrations.


“Other achievements recorded by the state government by  the Ministry of Health from May 29, 2019 to date include the revival of  the various MDAs and programmes to promote healthcare delivery.


“We secured  the release of N400 million from the state government for MDAs under the state Ministry of Health to run their affairs.


“The following amounts were received by each of the  beneficiaries:  N100 million for State Drugs Management Agency, N100 million for Health Contributory Agency, N100 million for Primary Health Care Development Agency and N100 million for Hospital Service Management Board,” he said.


He also said  that the state government bought ambulances and utility vehicles for hospitals and health offices and programmes.


After discovering 84 ghost medical doctors and 64 nurses from the state government’s payroll, Gov. Bello Matawalle gave approval for the recruitment of more medical doctors and nurses for secondary and tertiary health institutions in the state.


The commissioner, however, lauded the efforts of the state government in the fight against COVID-19 pandemic in the state.


He also appreciated the support and cooperation from traditional and religious leaders in the fight against COVID-19 in the state.

Edited By: Edwin Nwachukwu/Peter Dada (NAN)


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Rapper M.I lends voice to Violence against women in society



Nigerian rapper, Jude Abaga popularly known as M.I has lent his voice in condemning violence against women in the society.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that social media platforms had been raging with condemnation of violence against women following the death of one Miss Vera Uwaila Omozuwa.

Omozuwa, a 22-year-old 100-level student of the University of Benin, Edo was raped and killed while reading in a church in Benin city.

M.I has through his Twitter account, Yung [email protected]_Abaga joined in condemning the act, adding that every member of the society must commit to change in the ways women were treated in the society.

“And while we as men listen to truth in this period. Let us remember it is not only about the change toward violence. It’s about ensuring that there is equity in your work places and schools.

“It is about dismantling patriarchy by supporting women into positions of leadership.

“It’s about speaking truth to our brothers, fathers, sons when they transgress. We cannot change the world by just repainting it.

“We must tear down the systems that support a society where men can wreak such evil.

“If there is one thing I hope all men do in this period, it’s sit with the women around you and listen.

“Let them share their stories (if they want to) and their experiences on being a woman in our society. Listen and then commit to change,” he wrote.

Edited By: Chioma Ugboma/Maureen Atuonwu (NAN)

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Minister tasks lawmakers on ending violence against women, girls



The Minister of Women Affairs, Mrs Pauline Tallen, on Monday urged lawmakers to enact laws and evolve polices that would ensure a safe society and end violence against women and girls.

Tallen made the call in the ministry’s official twitter handle, @FMWA-ng in Abuja.

She was reacting to the recent killings of Miss Uwaila Omozuwa and Miss Tina Ezekwe by yet-to-be-identified hoodlums and police respectively.

Omozuwa, a 100-level Microbiology student of the University of Benin was killed after her attackers had raped her inside a church in Benin, while Ezekwe was allegedly shot dead by a policeman in Lagos.

The minister decried the increase in sexual violence in homes across the country, stressing the need to urgently address the issue and ensure dependable security in the country.

‪”I condemn these horrific acts and call on our lawmakers to take emergency actions on this dastardly oppression that is suddenly on the increase.

The Ministry of Women Affairs is aware of how vulnerable Nigerian women are, and record of cases being reported indeed stirs rage.

“We are working passionately to address these issues of violence and abuse against women in Nigeria, and are doing this from all angles – policies, legislature and regulations – to create a Nigerian society that is safe for every woman.

Our goal is to build systems that are efficient and reliable,’’ the minister said.

The News Agency of Nigeria recalls that the UNWomen recently disclosed a rise in Gender Based Violence (GBV) in Lagos State with 300 per cent increase between March and April.

The group also disclosed that in the FCT the increase was 520 per cent during the period, amid COVID-19 lockdown and other social measures put in place.


Edited By: Remi Koleoso/Ejike Obeta (NAN)

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Is Female Genital Mutilation a panacea for promiscuity or violation of women’s right?



Is Female Genital Mutilation a panacea for promiscuity or violation of women’s right?

An analysis by Ikenna Osuoha, News Agency of Nigeria

Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) involves the partial or total removal of the external female genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons, classified by experts into four major types, namely:

Type 1:  This is the partial or total removal of the clitoral glans (the external and visible part of the clitoris, which is a sensitive part of the female genitals), and/or the prepuce/ clitoral hood (the fold of skin surrounding the clitoral glans).

Type 2:  This is the partial or total removal of the clitoral glans and the labia minora (the inner folds of the vulva), with or without removal of the labia majora (the outer folds of skin of the vulva).

Type 3, also known as infibulation, is the narrowing of the vaginal opening through the creation of a covering seal, where the seal is formed by cutting and repositioning the labia minora, or labia majora, sometimes through stitching, with or without removal of the clitoral prepuce/clitoral

hood and glans (Type I FGM).

Type 4 includes all other harmful procedures to the female genitalia for non-medical purposes, e.g. pricking, piercing, incising, scrapping and cauterising

the genital

Societies and communities around the globe practice the different types of FGM, claiming it is a panacea for promiscuity and means of protecting women’s chastity.

It is prevalent in about 28 countries in Africa and few scattered communities globally. But its burden is seen in Nigeria, Egypt, Mali,  Eritrea, Sudan, Central African Republic and Northern part of Ghana, where it has been an old traditional and cultural practice.

In Nigeria, the 2018 Nigeria and Demographic Health Survey (NDHS) report shows that the practice is prevalent in the South-South with 77 per cent, followed by South East with 68 per cent, South West with 65 per cent, but practiced on a smaller scale in the North.

However, it is recognised internationally as a violation of the right of girls and women, as experts conclude that it is a harmful practice and has no health benefits.

It is, therefore, celebrated annually around the globe on May 23 as World Fistula Day to bring to the fore, the many disadvantages and ills of the practice and how it affects women and girls, as well as proffer solution to remedy the situation.

The theme of the celebration in 2020 is “End Gender Inequality! End Health Inequities! End Fistula now!”.

Dr Juliet Ofor, a medical practitioner with Federal Medical Centre, Jabi, Abuja says “the act is a reflection of deep-rooted inequality between the sexes, and constitutes extreme form of discrimination against women.”

Ofor says it is carried out on minors, making it a violation of the rights of children.

Understandably, the practice can be described as total violation of a person’s right to health, security and physical integrity, the right to be free from torture and inhuman or degrading treatment, and the right to life when the procedure results to death.

The medical practitioner, who emphasised the need for national and international legislation against FGM, says it has no health benefits but harm, noting that deinfibulation, a surgical procedure carried out to re-open the vaginal introitus of women living with type III FGM, is often necessary for improved health and well-being, as well as to allow intercourse or to facilitate childbirth.

She adds that “FGM has no health benefits, it harms girls and women in many ways. It involves removing and damaging healthy and normal female genital tissue, and interferes with the natural functions of girls’ and women’s bodies.

“The risks of FGM increase with increasing severity, which corresponds to the amount of tissue damaged, although all forms of FGM are associated with increased health risk.”

“It is clear that prevalence rates progressively decline in the young age groups and about 37 per cent of circumcised women do not want it to continue.”

Ofor urges government at all levels to begin massive sensitisation and education on the ills of FGM, noting, however, that “states like Ebonyi, Osun and Imo, where the practice is high, have, however, recorded reduction.

“But there is need for continuous education of the masses on the harmful cultural practice. Many stakeholders have consistently called on health workers to organise programmes on the harmful effects of FGM in rural areas, where it is seen as a cultural right, using local languages and citing examples of the complications.”

Adaku Okadigbo, an Abuja resident who says she is a victim of FGM, descibes the practice as a silent killer.

She says that the destructive effects of FGM on her are so many to mention “and I will never practice it on my children or encourage any of my relatives or friends to do it on their girl children.”

She adds that the practice is just to dehumanise the victims and not a panacea against promiscuity “because a promiscuous woman will still do it no matter what you do to her.”

Also, Dr Yeti Kunle of University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital, listed the numerouscomplications of FGM as severe pain, excessive bleeding (haemorrhage),

genital tissue swelling, fever, infection, urinary problems, wound healing problems, injury to surrounding genital tissue, shock and even death.

According to her, long-term complications can include urinary problems (painful urination, urinary tract infections, vaginal problems (discharge, itching, bacterial vaginosis and other infections); menstrual problems (painful menstruation, difficulty in passing menstrual blood, etc.

“Others include scar tissue and keloid; sexual problems (pain during intercourse, decreased satisfaction, etc.), increased risk of childbirth complications, the need for later surgeries to seal or narrow the vaginal opening.

“Sometimes genital tissue is stitched again several times, including after childbirth, hence the woman goes through repeated opening and closing procedures, further increasing both immediate and long-term risks.”

The medical expert also identified some of the psychological problems caused by FGM to include depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, and low self-esteem, saying such conditions can degrade or dehumanise the victims.

Mrs Hannah Shehu, an activist on women issues, says moving forward, women empowerment and financial independence are imperative in achieving eradication.

Shehu also calls for males’ support and promotion of the rights of the girl-child as necessary tools toward eradicating the harmful practice.

According to her, direct Involvement of community and religious leaders in target population is very important to disabuse the minds of the people.

Mrs Sylvia Oguamanam, a Lecturer at Angel Crown College of Education, Abuja, however, emphasise the need for change of traditional and cultural ideology in target communities.

Oguamanam, who says there is considerable support for the practice in areas where it is deeply rooted in local tradition and ignorance, notes that traditional rulers must be involved as major stakeholders to achieve the desired change.

Consequently, FGM as practised in societies and communities “to check promiscuity” among women and girls cannot be said to achieve the goal, as it causes more harm to victims, while promiscuous women will still do it no matter what, indicating that there is no connection between FGM and promiscuity.  (NANFeatures)**If used, please credit the writer as well as News Agency of Nigeria


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UN chief stresses women’s role in peacekeeping




UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Friday stressed the important role of women in peacekeeping on the occasion of the International Day of UN Peacekeepers.

“Now this year, we also mark the 20th anniversary of Security Council Resolution 1325 on women, peace and security and we are observing the International Day of UN Peacekeepers with the theme: Women in Peacekeeping: A Key to Peace,” said Guterres at a ceremony in honor of the peacekeepers who lost their lives in 2019.

Resolution 1325 was a milestone in recognizing that women have a right to full, equal, and meaningful participation in peace processes, conflict resolution and peacebuilding. It also emphasized women peacekeepers’ essential role in the success of UN peace operations, he said.

“Day by day, women peacekeepers help improve all aspects of our operations and performance; they ensure better access to local communities; they prevent and reduce conflict and confrontation; and they serve as role models for their peers and others,” Guterres said.

In addition, UN peacekeeping operations are better able to build trust with those in need of protection when their staffing reflects the communities in which they serve. This is another reason why increasing the number of women in peacekeeping is so crucial, he said. “Peacekeeping is more effective for everyone when we have more women peacekeepers at all levels, including in decision-making. We will continue to do everything we can, including with our troop and police contributors, to reach this goal.”

Carla Monteiro de Castro Araujo of the Brazilian Navy, who is deployed with the UN Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA), and Suman Gawani of the Indian Army, a military observer formerly deployed with the UN Mission in South Sudan, jointly won this year’s Gender Advocate Award.

The inspiring work of the two women peacekeepers has made a remarkable difference in promoting gender equality and empowering local women and their own colleagues, said Guterres. “Your contributions are proof that women peacekeepers are vital to peace and security everywhere.”

In her role as MINUSCA‘s military gender and protection advisor, Monteiro de Castro Araujo has strengthened the mission’s ability to protect civilians, address conflict-related sexual violence and prevent sexual exploitation and abuse. She also strived to improve the living conditions of her fellow women peacekeepers, said Guterres.

Gawani, during her deployment in South Sudan, mentored more than 230 military observers on conflict-related sexual violence and ensured the presence of women military observers in each of the mission’s team sites. She also trained the South Sudanese government forces and helped them launch their action plan on conflict-related sexual violence, said the UN chief.


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Group seeks end to age-limit for women seeking assisted reproduction technology in Lagos



A rights group, the Centre for Health, Equity and Justice (CEHEJ), has asked the Lagos State Government to end the age limit set against women seeking to be Assisted Reproductive Technologists (ART) in the state.

CEHEJ, in a statement issued by its Public Relations Officer, Mr Olanrewaju Akerele on Thursday, said it had written a letter to the Lagos State Commissioner for health Prof. Akinola Abayomi and the Lagos State Attorney-General, Mr Moyosore Onigbanjo (SAN) to end the policy.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that ART is used to treat infertility.

It includes fertility treatments that handle both a woman’s egg and a man’s sperm; it works by removing eggs from a woman’s body.

The eggs are then mixed with sperm to make embryos and the embryos are then put back in the woman’s body.

NAN also reports that there is an age limit of 54-years for women in Lagos, who seek ART method for the child bearing.

The age limit is contained in the Lagos State Regulations and Guidelines for ART practice.

The rights group said that the letter to the government officials, dated May 27 and signed by CEHEJ’s Executive-Director, Mr Timothy Adewale described the age restriction as discriminatory.

“The argument that such age restriction is necessary, due to advanced maternal age, is thus untenable and unwarranted.

“It is against the fundamental rights of every citizens to the best attainable standards of health, right to equal opportunity without regard to sex, race, age, ethnicity and freedom from all forms of discrimination.

CEHEJ firmly believes that what is done officially must be done in accordance with the law and Nigeria’s international human rights obligations.

“It is an absolute interference with the liberty and privacy of citizens to restrict ART women recipient’s age to 54 years.

“It violates the law disallowing discrimination on account of age, gender and circumstances of birth,’’ CEHEJ stated.

The group said it believed that the ART treatment should not be prohibited to women who are above 54-years, but that it should be granted to whoever desires to bear a child.

“There is need for Lagos State to show compassion and rally round these women, who have all their lives tried in vain to bear at least a child.

No ART regulations should be allowed to deny these women the God-given free gift of the fruit of the womb.’’

The human rights group also said that it will not hesitate to file a fundamental rights action in court to seek redress if the state government fails to stop the policy.

Edited By: Emmanuel Okara/Abdulfatah Babatunde (NAN)

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COVID-19: Zamfara governor’s wife donates preventive items to women



The wife of Zamfara Governor, Hajiya Aisha Bello-Matawalle, has donated 40,000 preventive items to vulnerable women groups in the state as part of efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19 pandemic.

Aisha, while presenting the items to the women groups in Gusau on Thursday, said the gesture was aimed at complementing the state government’s efforts to prevent spread of Coronavirus.

According to her, the materials comprised 10,000 face masks, 10,000 hand gloves, 10,000 soaps and 10, 000 hand sanitiser.

“We also provided printed flyers for sensitising members of the public in Hausa and English languages.

“Apart from preventive materials, we are giving out 10,000 sets of clothing materials across the 14 LGAs of the state as Sallah gifts.

“This came at a crucial time when many vulnerable groups are in serious need of support,” she said.

The governor’s wife applauded the support of her husband, Governor Bello  Matawalle, to women in the state.

She called on the public to continue to stay safe and protect their families inline with the government’s measures and the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) guidelines against the virus.

She urged residents of the state to continue with prayers for Allah’s  intervention to overcome the COVID-19 pandemic all over the world

Edited By: Tayo Ikujuni/Felix Ajide (NAN)

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UN provides essential medicines for Libyan women, children




The United Nations Children‘s Fund (UNICEF) on Wednesday said it delivered essential medicines to western Libyan cities to benefit 20,000 people including women and children.

UNICEF tweeted that “20,000 persons including women and children will benefit from lifesaving and essential medicines that have been dispatched” to the municipalities of Surman, Sabratha, Alzawya and Zwara.

“The supplies that include vaccines carriers, obstetric kits and cold boxes are essential to ensure that quality primary health and lifesaving Maternal, new-born and child health care are strengthened to avoid preventable morbidity and mortality among vulnerable populations,” it said.

UNICEF and the World Health Organization (WHO) recently said that more than 250,000 children in war-torn Libya face the risk of vaccine-preventable diseases.

Western Libya saw more than a year of violent fightings between the eastern-based army and the UN-backed government, in which hundreds of civilians were killed and injured, and more than 150,000 others displaced.

Amid escalating violence and unrest, hospitals and medical centers in Libya have been struggling to provide proper medical care to the Libyan people.


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Women peacekeepers from Brazil, India share UN military gender award




For the first time, the UN Military Gender Advocate award has been awarded to two UN peacekeepers: Commander Carla Monteiro de Castro Araujo, a Brazilian naval officer, and Major Suman Gawani, of the Indian Army, the UN Department of Peace Operations said on Monday.

The award, created in 2016, recognizes the dedication and effort of individual military peacekeepers in promoting the UN principles on women, peace and security in peace operations. Women peacekeepers are nominated by the heads and force commanders of peace operations.

Commander Monteiro de Castro Araujo serves as the military gender and protection advisor in the UN Mission in the Central African Republic. During her tour of duty, she has conducted training on gender and protection, and was instrumental in seeing the number of gender-responsive patrols engaging with local communities increase from 574 to nearly 3,000 per month, said the department.

“It’s very gratifying for me and the mission to see that our initiatives are bearing fruit,” said the Brazilian officer.

Major Gawani, the first Indian peacekeeper to win the award, is a military observer, formerly deployed to the UN Mission in South Sudan, where she mentored over 230 UN military observers on conflict-related sexual violence, and ensured the presence of women military observers in each of the mission’s team sites. She also trained South Sudanese government forces, and helped them to launch their action plan on conflict-related sexual violence.

Expressing happiness at seeing her work recognized, Major Gawani said, “Whatever our function, position or rank, it is our duty as peacekeepers to integrate an all-genders perspective into our daily work and own it, in our interactions with colleagues as well as with communities.”

Commending the two women peacekeepers, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres described them as powerful role models. “Through their work, they have brought new perspectives and have helped to build trust and confidence among the communities we serve,” he said. “Through their commitment and innovative approaches, they embrace a standard of excellence that is an inspiration to all blue helmets everywhere. As we confront today’s challenges, their work has never been more important or relevant.”


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