By Dorcas Jonah
The National Council for Women Societies (NCWS) has urged the Federal Government to take adequate steps in addressing the rights of women and hunger in the country.
Mrs Gloria Shoda, the President of NCWS, made the appeal in a statement issued in Abuja to mark the 2018 International Women’s Day activities.
According to her, this year’s event afforded women especially those in the rural areas the opportunity to address issues bordering on their plight.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the celebration is a global event that talks about women’s achievements from politics to social, including gender equality.
The day has been observed since the early 1900s and is now marked each year on March 8.
It is however not affiliated with any particular group, but brings together governments, women organisations, corporations and charities.
Activities to mark the day include arts performances, talks, rallies, networking events, conferences and march pass.
Shoda said that this year’s theme: “Time is Now: Rural and Urban activists transforming women’s lives”, was apt and timely.
According to her, there is no better time to address the hunger faced by women in this country than now.
“The council wants to use this day to draw the Federal Government’s attention to the suffering that the Nigerian woman goes through as a result of the hardship, insecurity and gender disparities in the country.
“We are faced with a situation where women go through a lot to be able to feed their families.
“This is because things are getting harder everyday and the prices of goods and services are on the increase and out of the reach of the common woman.
“Government should as a matter of urgency pass every bill that is related to women as well as look into policies that will better the living standard of the women.
“The rights and privileges of the women should be made paramount as government makes and execute her policies,’’ she said.
Shoda said that the day was an opportunity to transform this momentum into action and to empower women in various skill acquisition programmes.
She said the day was also to celebrate the activists who are working relentlessly to demand for women’s rights to enable them realise their full potential.
Shoda said the rights of rural women, who make up a quarter of the world population and the 43 per cent of women in the global agricultural labour force, according to UN reports.
“Our women cultivate the lands and plant seeds to feed nations, ensure food security for their communities and build climate resilience.
“Yet on almost every measure of development, the rural women fare worse than rural men or urban women because of deep seated gender inequalities and discrimination.
“The UN reports that less than 20 per cent of landholders worldwide are women.
“While the global pay gap between men and women stand at 23 per cent, in rural areas, it can be as high as 40 per cent in some cases,’’ she said.
According to her, “this is because they lack infrastructure and services, decent work and social protection, and are left more vulnerable to the effects of climate change”.
Shoda said that to make the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) a reality, there was the need for urgent action in rural areas to ensure adequate standard of living.
According to her, a life free of hunger, violence and harmful practices for rural women and nutrition, decent work, education and health, including their sexual and reproductive health and rights would guarantee the achievement of the SDGs.
She called on stakeholders to support the effort of the NCWS in ensuring better life for women, adding that the organisation as the umbrella body of women cannot do it alone.
The NCWS president said that the council had embarked on empowerment programmes, granting soft loans to women through the Bank of Industry to improve their lives.
Shoda said that the time to act is now to free women from all unnecessary hardship and torture.