Int’l Women Day: Atiku wants nations to prioritize women’s empowerment

...Says women are game-changers in the quest for development

Joshua Omoloye, Abuja

As International Women’s Day was celebrated globally yesterday, a frontline presidential aspirant of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Atiku Abubakar has urged nations of the world, particularly Nigeria to prioritize issues of women empowerment.

Enumerating roles played by Nigerian women in contemporary times, he canvassed that some powers and responsibilities should be conceded to women for the sustenance of the society.

He said “granting gender equality is not a want for our world. It is a need! And it is a decision that we have to take now!”

The former Vice President in a personal statement to celebrate Nigerian women on this year’s anniversary with the theme ”Gender Equality Today, for A Sustainable Tomorrow”.

“Like in every upwardly mobile society, the story of our great country, Nigeria, cannot be complete without the contribution of our amazing women. Either in contemporary times or in those periods when the bonds of our nationhood was being forged, Nigerian women have stood tall to be counted as worthy patriots.

Read More: Int’l Women’s Day: Olam set to celebrate, drive women’s successes

“But the significance of International Women’s Day should not be reduced to merely celebrating the woman. It is much more than that. It is an opportunity for us as a human race to take the advocacy for the empowerment of half of us to the front burner.

“I owe a lot of what I have become in life to God and my late mother, Hajiya Aisha Kande. I lost my father at an early age. So, essentially, I am a product of single parentage by my mother. But there are many Aisha Kande, whose daily stories of toil and labour to raise promising children have remained unsung. Both as supporting partners to their husbands or widows like my late mother, those successful women who endured all odds to educate their children in character and learning are the real heroes that we celebrate today.

“By their successes, they have shown to the world that given an opportunity, the woman can prove her mettle in a position of leadership, either in politics or business”, he said.

Stressing that the theme of this year’s celebration is relevant, Atiku said it a pointer that “the synopsis for a sustainable future of our humanity must concede some power and responsibilities to women”.

Strongly advocating that if the issue of Affirmative Action is taken seriously, he assured that it will proffer a sustainable solution to problems of out-of-school children in Nigeria; primary healthcare accessibility and, even, terrorism.

Atiku also called for compulsory education to the girl-child which will bring hope that the next generation will be better equipped to confront many if not all of the problems that beset our world today.

“In my private capacity as an investor in education, the American University of Nigeria, which I happen to be the founder, has since its inception in 2014, giving priority to girl-child education, and particularly espousing initiatives that continue to take formal education to the streets, affording vulnerable children access to learning in Arithmetic and English Language. Through these initiatives, the AUN has registered some level of improvement in mass literacy in the North-East area of Nigeria.

“That is why all through my career in politics – either in government or in the opposition – I have led a consistent campaign for upward review of budgetary allocation to education. A lot about what we need to do about gender equality rests within the corridor of policy formulation at the governmental level. It is disheartening that just recently, the national legislature in Nigeria threw away the baby with the bathwater by a sweeping rejection of some proposals that will give women some advantages in the current constitution review exercise.

“I believe that the civil societies must continue to lobby both the executive and legislative arms of government in driving home the agenda. The process could be incremental, but we must never get our hands off the cart”, he said.

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