By Angela Atabo
Christian Aid Nigeria, a Non-Govermental Organisation (NGO), has called on Nigerians to stop discriminatory acts against women in the country.
The Country Director, Christian Aid Nigeria, Charles Usie, made the call at a news conference organised by the NGO as part of activities to mark the 2021 International Women’s Day on Sunday in Abuja.
According to Usie, the organisation leverage and partner at the global level to correct the ills against women in Nigeria .
This ,he said was because Christian Aid’s essential purpose was to expose the scandal of poverty and to change the systems and structure that perpetuated poverty and injustice over the weak and marginalised by the strong and powerful.
He said that what this meant was that Christian Aid work to identify systems and structures that supported and created poverty.
According to him, the organisation is also working to identify systems that supports injustice and work in ways to dismantle these structures and to expose them and reduce the burden upon people.
He said that this had become imperative because in sub-Saharan Africa, the face of poverty was the face of a woman, adding that if a household was poor, the burden would be seen on the woman and children.
“One out of five women will tell you they have experienced some form of violence, unlike men, in spite that their representation in elected office is abysmally low.
“ There are cultures and norms in Nigeria that discriminate against women, for instance women are not allowed to own properties and lands or even do some things simply because of their gender.
“In other climes, if there is any form of separation in marriage, the man leaves the house, it does not matter if it is his house. In Nigeria, you cannot even imagine it.
“That is the biggest threat many women face in their marriages, when a man says I will throw you out of the house this is the reality in Nigeria.
“Like in Abuja, if you are a single lady you cannot rent a house, they will tell you to bring a man as your shorty, there are some hotels and places that discriminate against women too, we challenge such systems and call on all landlords to desist from such acts.’’
Usie said that the organisation’s message was to challenge any structure or system that would not give women equal chances to thrive in Nigeria.
He said that Nigeria belonged to everyone and it was up to all genders to develop it, adding that it was not one group of people who would take Nigeria to the Promised Land.
He said that although Nigeria had laws like the Violence Against Persons (VAP) law and the Child Rights Act that could address issues of discrimination and hamper women’s progress in Nigeria.
Usie, however, said that domestication and enforcement remained a major challenge hampering its essence due to ignorance ,lack of domestication and implementation of the laws, so it would be difficult to get justice for women .
“Legislation is there, like everything in Nigeria, policy is not usually the problem it is the implementation and the enforcement that is the problem .
“So as far as we know, in celebrating International Women’s Day, if Nigeria or the state commit to just implementing the VAP law and the Child Rights Act, I can tell you that we will make significant progress.’’
Usie said that sometimes the perpetuators of violence and discriminatory acts against women and girls were among them and some were even religious and traditional leaders , legislators or security men .
He said that talking about the issues women faced would bring it to the consciousness of policy makers and Nigerians to take action and curb it, adding that all hands must be on deck to protect women.
According to him, the theme of cthis year’s celebration: Choosing to Challenge the Injustice, the NGO is joining activists around the world to challenge the systems and the structures that still keep women and children poor and impoverished.
Usie said that Christian Aid chose three areas of focus: Democracy and Good governance, Health and Human Development, Humanitarian and Sustainable Livelihoods for human justice.
He said that women bore the difficulty when it came to accessing health care in Nigeria as they suffer the most when it comes to managing their own health care in Nigeria and childbirth .
“Today, Christian Aid Nigeria, we have chosen to take sides, we are not neutral in this fight, we have taken sides with women and girls and on that basis we challenge our systems and structures that perpetuate poverty, injustice and marginalisation of women and children in Nigeria.’’
The Programme Officer, Gender and Social Inclusion, Christian Aid, Mercy Okeke said that the NGO was committed to gender justice in all areas and to show this commitment it deliberately target women empowerment.
Okeke said this was being done through education and other advocacy programmes to get everybody talking about gender equality and to have a movement for change around gender justice.
This ,she said was because the NGO wanted women to be participants and decision makers on issues that affected them and not to be bench warmers.