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THE RISE OF WOMEN IN NATION BUILDING-Nigerian Women Key to Rwanda’s Women recovery-Dr. Eunice Orji

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Ezekiel Zik Kuni

Dr. Eunice Orji has joined the band wagon of women advocating for women in nation building. Seeking women empowerment, riding on the space of politics, businesses and home builders.

According to the woman of substance, a preacher of the word of God, a business tycoon and an oil don Dr. Eunice Orji encouraged women not to leave the leadership role to the men while speaking at the Church summit organised by NNCC in Abuja recently.

She said, Nigeria is a blessed nation filled with great potentials and tribes made up of men, women, and children but unfortunately the women are not heard.  They have been relegated to the background or to the other room.  We have just a few women courageous enough to fight for political positions with the men. 

“We all are aware of the state of our nation. We have gone from being the Giant of Africa to be the slaves of the world.  Nations are rejecting our citizens who are roaming all around the world seeking for better lives for themselves and their families;

The present arrangement of male domination in leadership is not working.

It is time for us women to rise and come out from the other room into both informal and formal leadership.  It is time to participate and use the potentials imbedded in us to bring our nation out of comatose.

She said, Women can make a lot of difference in our nation Nigeria. Being the bedrock of the home, our women are capable and have the capacity to handle any political position or handle the affairs of the country even better than what we have now.

This is because women are loyal, faithful, dedicated and determined.  They are not prone to corruption.  Nigeria has very intelligent women whose abilities are not harnessed.

Going down the lane of history she named the likes of late Mrs. Dora Akunyili, a Director General of National Agency of Food and Drug Administration and Control and Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, former Finance Minister, who accomplished a lot in their assigned offices.

In 1929 women in the provinces of Calabar and Owerri in southeastern Nigeria led a protest, the “Aba Women’s Riots of 1929”. They were fighting for their rights. Thousands of Igbo women organized a massive revolt against the policies imposed by British colonial administrators in southeastern Nigeria.

There was also Funmilayo Ransome Kuti. She was a women`s right activist and a political leader during her time. 

The bible in Judges 4 & 5 recorded the story of Deborah, a prophet, a judge and heroine in the Old Testament. She inspired the Israelites to mighty victories over their enemies.

We can see that women have been found in government/leadership dating back to bible era.  Women have participated in bringing sanity to their nations

England was ruled by a monarch, a woman for over 70 years. Queen Elizabeth II who just passed on held the country together for 70 years.  She was a wife and a mother too.

Dr. Pst Orji asked why are women in this generation complacent?

Knowing that women are blessed by God and have great potentials to guide, nurture and to rule.  Without the woman there is no home, country or nation. They are not only meant to marry, have children and end up in the kitchen. It is said that behind every King is a woman.  Let us move from behind to the front.   

The women of Rwanda have shown that they can be fully involved in nation building.

After the genocide that claimed the lives of most Rwandan men in 1994, where churches, schools, and infrastructures were destroyed; offices and businesses looted and governance minimal. Almost a million Rwandan people were killed. The population became dominated by women. They were faced with ensuring the survival of their families.  They took in orphaned children and organized support groups for widows. They moved from the role of wives, mothers to reconstructing their nation. They farmed and started doing business. They helped to sustain economic growth and helped to create stability in Rwanda. 

They joined politics, and led Rwanda’s recovery.

They served as national directors, judges, and held seats in the commission tasked with drafting Rwandan new constitution.

This led to 86 per cent of Rwandan women being active in the national labour market. They also held 55 per cent of government cabinet positions and 61.3 per cent of seats in their country’s parliament.

Rwanda became the first country in the world with female majority in parliament.

The women of Rwanda played key roles in Gacaca (pronounced gah-CHA-cha), a kind of truth and reconciliation process that operated mainly at community level.

Rwanda has the highest rate of female labour force participation, not only in Africa but the world.

They held 3 of the 12 seats of the commission tasked with drafting a new constitution for Rwanda.  Among these women is Judith Kanakuze.

Rwandan women’s accomplishments in a nutshell include:

–        initiating reconciliation efforts

–        participating in drafting a new constitution

–        exercising influence in decentralization policies

–        and forming a cross-party caucus in parliament to continue to work on security issues.

–         They helped in Influencing and Formulation Policies

–         Advanced Reconciliation, i.e. the National Unity reconciliation Commission Gacaca.

–         Drafting the Constitution.

–         Strengthen Parliament

If Rwandan women can reconstruct their country as they did, I believe Nigerian women can do much more.

Presently we do not have enough women in position of leadership where discussion and decision on nation building is brought to the table.  So we have no voice.  We have very few women in the legislative arms and they have little or no political participation.

There is an urgent need to focus on creating legal and social conditions where women and men have equal rights in politics and leadership.

Improving gender equality will help increase economic growth, reduce poverty, enhance societal well-being, and help to ensure sustainable development.

Let us work to extend political freedom and economic opportunities for women. We are faced with political and economic inequality and have allowed a combination of sexism and economic inequality to deter us.

The few women we have in politics are trying, but the present leadership arrangement does not give them enough opportunity to participate. It is time for women both home and abroad to arise and take back our country which is presently in shambles.  We have no other country but this one.  Let us arise and restore Nigeria back to her position as the Giant of Africa if not of the world.  We can do it.

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Ezekiel Zik Kuni

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