The 8th of March has been set aside every year to recognise the contributions of women in all spheres of life. It has served as a way to amplify the works of women and continue the advocacy for a gender-balanced world.
This year’s theme is “Gender equality today for a sustainable tomorrow”, highlighting the importance of achieving gender equality as part of efforts towards building a sustainable future. This is because democracy presupposes an equal opportunity platform for political participation and the decision-making process. And considerable research has shown that when society treats all citizens as equals, it has greater stability and prosperity.
Brain Builders Youth Development Initiative (BBYDI) continues to support campaigns to ensure gender balance. Women have proven, over the years, to be crucial to the achievement of our collective developmental aspirations. Despite the critical role they play, time and time undertake such feet with minimal support and in some cases had to surmount institutional and structural barriers. For example, women constitute 60% of the agricultural labour force in Nigeria. Yet, they lack adequate information on climate change mitigation, 21st-century farming practices, weather patterns, yields, and soil health data. As a result, their contribution does not translate to climate sustainability or reflect significantly in the economic well being of Nigerian society.
BBYDI believes that one of the ways to address the challenge is by creating the enabling environment and provision of the requisite information on natural resource management, climate change and targeted financing for women in Agriculture and the informal sector as a whole. This will help increase awareness about climate issues and equip them with the right skills and tools to work towards sustainability.
We are also calling for the democratising of public participation, especially in leadership and representation within the governance and political structures and process in Nigeria. We welcome the news of the decision to reconsider three out of six gender bills stood down during the ongoing constitutional review process. However, it is abysmal that in the 21st-century women had to protest and #occupyNASS to achieve such outcomes. It is then appaling that in the 21st women continue to thrive despite the odds against them. Our institutions and systems can only be stronger when we #BreaktheBias.
Collectively, we need to build a Nigerian society where a child irrespective of gender can believe that she/he can dream or aspire to be.
Democratising public participation for us is not just about inclusion, but about recruiting people with competence, character and capacity to occupy leadership positions irrespective of their gender.
This is why we are launching a project named #SpaceforHer, which aims to identify and equip young women interested in holding political positions in Kwara State with the requisite skills, knowledge and values to deliver transformative leadership.
Finally, we remember the tragic story of Miss Oluwabamise Ayanwole, who was murdered after taking a ride on the Lagos State public transport vehicle, popularly known as the BRT bus. We also remember the unfortunate circumstances that led to the death of a 3-month-old baby in a creche. These incidents remind us that we have more to do as a people, in creating safe spaces for women for the actualization and maximisation of their potential.
We hope that this year’s IWD celebrations serve as the tipping point to #BreaktheBias and let women thrive.
From all of us as BBYDI, we say happy International Women’s Day.