…Condemns violence against women
The Institute of Women, Gender and Development Studies (IWoGDS), Federal University of Technology Owerri (FUTO) in collaboration with Federal University of Technology Owerri Women Association (FUTOWA), celebrated this year’s International Women’s Day with the theme – “Time Is Now: Rural and Urban Activits Transforming Women’s Lives.”Activities marking the event took place at the Hall of Excellence, FUTO, March 14, 2018.
Declaring the event open, the Chairman of the occasion and Vice-Chancellor of FUTO, Prof Francis Chukwuemeka Eze stated that over the years women in the university community have continued to mount programmes and activities that have impacted positively on the welfare and developmental needs of women, children, students and other groups within and outside the university in which he is greatly pleasured and satisfied.
Reflecting on the theme, the Vice-Chancellor said this year’s celebration drew attention to the rights and activities of rural women who make up over a quarter of the world’s population. “These women till the lands and plant seeds to feed nations yet on almost every measure of development, rural women fare worse than rural men and urban women.”
In her keynote address – the President Michael Okpara University of Agriculture Umudike Women Association, Barr (Mrs.) Bertha Otunta, revealed that good progress has been made across the globe and in our country in particular to reduce gender disparities. However, she noticed that the achievements are not spread widely or evenly enough, especially among the rural women, therefore so much needs to be done to close the remaining gender gaps and improve lives of all women and girls in the society.
Barr Mrs. Otunta suggested several ways to become woman rights activists, including raising your voice, supporting one another, sharing the workload, encouraging education of the girl child and fighting against male preference over the female in the area of education.
Earlier in her address, the Director, IWoGDS, Professor Mrs. Gloria Okwu said the “International Women’s day is a global day celebrating women’s social, political and cultural achievements from the past and present while pushing for progress for the future. It is a time to reflect on progress made and to consider the prospects for the future. Although some gains have been recorded in bridging the gender gaps a lot still remains to be done.”
Quoting Amnesty International, Prof. Okwu said, one-third of women in Nigeria are believed to have been subjected to physical, sexual and psychological violence carried out primarily by husbands, partners and fathers.
“Violence against women in our country is deeply rooted in our culture because of the patriarchal nature of our society. That is why we believe that the men who are not abusive should challenge the men who are abusive. Men in powerful situations should speak out to protect the women and girls and change the situation.” She therefore urged all the friendly and well meaning men to speak out and secure a violence-free future for their daughters and grand-daughters.
Prof. Okwu challenged the urban and enlightened women to assist the rural women to claim their rights and improve their livelihoods and wellbeing.
“The way for us women to “Press for Progress” is to build capacity, support one another, love one another and present a common front in all struggles. We should start in our various homes to challenge the social norms and stereotypes that perpetuate gender inequality. We should provide equal opportunities at home for sons and daughters, encourage both to dream big and provide the necessary support equitably for the actualization of these dreams.”
The highlights of the event include, launching of N50 million to equip the FUTOWA multi-purpose activity centre, cutting of cake, drama and cultural dance.