Nigerian women have been urged to build a gender-balanced world, as this would help the economy and local communities thrive as well as increase the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) through industrialisation and SME growth.
This and many more was made known at the Association of Nigerian Women Business Network (ANWBN) body’s International Women’s Day celebration held in Lagos during the week with the theme, Each For Equal- Creating a gender balanced world. National coordinator of the association, Anita Nana Okuribido said the major proactive way to achieving this year’s theme was for women to build a gender-balanced world.
The association, which is a coalition of 40 women businesses and professional associations in Nigeria and had most of them represented at the event, aims to encourage and improve sustainable entrepreneurial development among women through research, advocacy, policy reform initiatives, implementations and feedback. Okuribido urged the women to support each other as the struggle for women’s equality can only be realised by collective efforts and not by one person or association.
She added that the association has developed her women national business agenda which prioritizes the country’s high incidence of insecurity, poor power supply and bad roads, gender inequality in governance, lack of access to finance, arbitrary and multiple taxation and finally, lack of commodity market protection from foreigners. She said the agenda and solutions proffered would be presented to the Federal government and would be formally launched later in April.
Immediate past NACCIMA president, Iyalode Alaba Lawson urged the women gathered not to see their gender as a barrier and smash set goals, as there is nothing a woman couldn’t do.
Anthonia Ojenagbon who was the keynote speaker revealed that she is a sexual abuse survivor, recounting how her uncle molested her for years till she was “rescued” by a pastor who in turn started raping her because he knew she was vulnerable. “I wanted to desperately get married so as to escape the constant abuse. I felt worthless, like the society failed me. My mom had me when she was 14, she was married off and had me same year and I held her to blame for many years till I realized she was also an abused child herself. I was so desperate to get married that the first person that expressed interest in me, I jumped at it. I struggled with intimacy with my husband in the first year of my marriage and I’ve contemplated suicide twice. A lot of women look OK on the outside, but they’re totally broken on the inside. Women, if you’ve gone through childhood trauma, it’s never your fault. If a child is raped or assaulted, it is not her fault. Get help for female children that have suffered assault, so that they can overcome the trauma and live a normal life in future. Let’s live a no-judgment life and not judge other women for the decisions they make,” she said.