*Leave stereotypes, cultural and religious roles
By Olajide Fashikun
Women in the nation have been advised to learn to pick the gaunt and make their voices heard on any matter that affects them. You must assert yourself everywhere you are without thinking of what people say about you but run on the bill because it is human rights not necessarily because it is women right.
Victor Iroele, a journalist with Silverbird Television Abuja made the assertion Thursday in Abuja at the roundtable conference on women rights, youth development and media advocacy organised by Proactive Gender Initiatives and supported by the Ford Foundation. His paper was titled: “the media, Nigerian women and youth development.”
Holding leaders accountable for the inaction and actions is very critical. Without a free media, all the lofty ideals in the Constitution cannot be guaranteed for our national development. When there are threats like during the military era, people will talk with tongues in their cheeks.
Organisations and individuals have been exercising their right of information despite that there is a law in place which is not effected. However, it is possible for the media to sift information and tend to define agenda setting and get the nation to buy-in into the ideals.
How much of media space and opportunities exist to the women and youths and the peculiarities that concern them. Many atimes, these oppressed population do not have the leverage in the media for them to advocate their issues and voices. The media will not just on their own assist or pursue women development but the women must ask for and get their spaces in the media.
Men are not more endowed or more intelligent than women. We have references to women who have played pivotal roles in our national development like the Queen Amina of Zaria, Efunsetan Aniwura of Ibadan, Moremi of Offa, Olufunmilayo Ransome Kuti, Aba Women riot of 1929. So, women must be bolder and more courageous than the ordinary space.
Regrettably, we have not seen the youths who are the leaders of tomorrow. Many of the leaders who had been there since the 70s are still the leaders even with their walking sticks waiting in the departure lounge.
If the youths are about 47% of the nation’s population that means they are a critical factor in the nation. How much are we as a people using their energies to push the nation’s interests to a development podium?
Media organisations are open to partnership and support structures.
In his contribution, Mr Chinedu Zeph, a Development Finance expert said, “it is culturally right for women to play and accept second fiddle roles without argument. Women are trained to play supportive roles to men and not anything in the mainstream. Our women in academics, sports, politics etc have excelled in life. Does this mean that are women proven to be inferior? Our womenfolk have accepted what the religion and culture placed on their hands and not on their minds.
He added, “from the Beijing conference, the world have achieved some gains. What are we taking away from that conference today in Nigeria? We should learn to make the children to do the right things and not because they are boys or girls.
Ezenwa Nwagu in his own contribution said, “most of the successful women in the society have not been successful because they are women or because they advocated women issues. Ministers, women parliamentarians, academicians etc who are women pursued and got the positions they hold by virtue of their brilliance. Therefore, every woman in any position in society should be a champion of where is she coming from and where they are going.”
“The media has done so much for the nation’s development within the challenges and troubles they are facing. I believe that they have done much. They deserve our praises and support. It is about we the citizens of the country and not necessarily, the practitioners of the media.”
Some of the guests that attended the event include Barrister Amos Daniel, Christie Iroh, Nwachukwu Ezeh, Rosemary Ogazie, Favour Nwaka, Juliet Itakpe, Nnadi Scholar, Ezube Victoria and Labour Party’s Barrister Ebere Ifendu, Zephaniah Agnes.
The session will continue later today at the Chelsea Hotel in the Central Business District. Some of the discussants will be Jenny Chisom, Ebere Ifendu, G. S. Onu and Chinedu Zeph.