Early marriage, circumcision dominate agenda on women’s day

As part of activities to mark this year’s International Women’s Day, a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women, the Interdenominational Youth Outreach of Christ The Lord Assembly, Ibadan, organised a conference under the theme Bold For Change.

The event was aimed at accelerating the 2030 agenda of building momentum for the effective implementation of the new sustainable development goals, especially to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls. The day, which marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity, is to ensure inclusive and quality education for all promoting lifelong learning.

Bello Taofeek Akanji, one of the participants, shared his experience on his attempt to circumcise her daughter against the wish of other family members, as well as his failed attempt to force her to early marriage to an elderly man because he feared she might become a lesbian.

Expressing his view on domestic violence, poverty, unemployment amongst others, he quoted the Director-General of the National Agency for the Control of AIDS, Sani Aliyu’s speech at a recent function, saying gender inequality issues are key drivers of HIV/AIDS epidemic in several ways as women currently constitute 59 per cent of HIV positive individuals. He advised the government to domesticate treaties that seeks to address challenges facing the female folks, as this will go a long way in curtailing violence against them.

Akanji also advised security agencies should be strengthened and empowered to deal with individual or group that abuse women, and make the process of redress effective and accessible.

On the quest for equality by the women, Akanji noted that, though African culture frowns at it, women have been excelling in their chosen careers.“The likes of late Dora Akunyili, Obi Ezekwesiri, Ngozi Okongo Iweala di well in their career. So, I suggest that the government should consider the request of women and give it approval through political appointments.”

On the agitation for gay marriage and gay right, Akanji said, “this is a very sensitive matter and our government have already rejected that offer and advice, As a person I don’t like it, in fact, that was why I had wanted to make my daughter Basirat Titilayo to marry my friend Chief Ojo at an early age because I noticed the lesbian tendency in her; she was always in the midst of females. So, to prevent her from becoming a Lesbian, I offered her to my friend for marriage, which made her to run away from home till today. So I don’t support it,” he said.

However, Akanji now regrets her actions, adding, “I even heard that she is married to another woman in Canada; how she got to Candada remains a mystery to my family and I,” he said.

He advised parents not to give their children out in marriage against their wish at very early age, saying, “the choice of marriage should be at their discretion. The girl child needs good education to be able to fulfil her potential. If you look around the world today, in Britain, a woman is the Prime Minister. In Germany, a woman is the leader and now in USA Hilary Clinton contested the presidential election; there are so many others like Margaret Thatcher. So, it is important to educate our female children,” he said.

Akanji has, however, not given up on the issue of female circumcision, as he believes the African tradition has ordained it and it must remain. “I want to let you know that I’m not happy today because my daughter refused to be circumcised and ran away from home; she’s an African woman and it’s our tradition. So, I’m solidly in support of circumcision,” he submitted.

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International Women’s Day
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