Gender  

IWD2019: Building a gender-balanced Nigeria

“I matter. I matter equally. Not ‘if only’, not ‘as long as’. I matter. Full stop,” – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Today, the world marks International Women’s Day, it represents a focal point in the movement for women’s rights. It is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women – while also marking a call to action for accelerating gender balance.

IWD is a defining moment to reflect on progress made, to call for change and to celebrate acts of courage by women who are doing extraordinary things in their communities and countries. The 2019 edition themed ‘Balance For Better’ and focuses on innovative ways to advance gender equality and the empowerment of women.

Balance is not a women’s issue, it’s a business issue. The race is on for the gender-balanced boardroom, a gender-balanced government, gender-balanced media coverage, a gender-balance of employees, more gender-balance in wealth, gender-balanced sports coverage, in fact a more balanced world.

Gender balance is critical for economies and communities to thrive.

While speaking on the importance of the International Women’s Day, Director General of the National Centre for Women Development (NCWD), Mrs Mary Ekpere-Eta, said this year’s theme, “Think Equal, Build Smart, Innovative For Change: Balance For Better”, focuses on the innovative ways to advance gender equality and the empowerment of women particularly in the areas of social protection systems, access to public services and sustainable infrastructure.

Innovation and technology create unparalleled opportunities, yet trends indicate a growing gender digital divide and women are under-represented in the field of science, technology, engineering, mathematics and design. It prevents them from developing and influencing gender-responsive innovations to achieve transformative gains for society. From mobile banking to artificial intelligence and the internet of things, it is vital that women’s ideas and experiences equally influence the design and implementation of the innovations that shape our future societies.

Gloria Steinem, world-renowned feminist, journalist and activist explained “The story of women’s struggle for equality belongs to no single feminist nor to any one organisation but to the collective efforts of all who care about human rights.”

Gender Balance and the Sustainable Development Goals

Equal rights and opportunity is imperative for women and girls everywhere and they should be able to live free of violence and discrimination. Women’s equality and empowerment is one of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, but also integral to all dimensions of inclusive and sustainable development. In fact, all the SDGs depend on the achievement of Goal 5.

Women do 2.6 times more unpaid care and domestic work than men. While families, societies and economies depend on this work, for women, it leads lower earnings and less time to engage in non-work activities. In addition to equal distribution of economic resources, which is not only a right, but accelerates development in multiple areas, there needs to be a fair balance of responsibility for unpaid care work between men and women.

Gender balance by 2030 entails urgent action to eliminate the causes of discrimination that still curtail women’s rights in private and public spheres. Discriminatory laws need to change and legislation adopted to proactively advance equality.

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