By Henry Uche
Conversations on the advancement of women in society took the front burner last week at a conference, which maintained that Nigeria is at a loss if gender imbalance (as seen across board) is not addressed.
This imbalance is evident even as women still have fewer opportunities for economic participation than men, less political representation, less access to quality health care and basic and higher education.
At the 2021 Future Of Health Conference, with the theme, “Breaking The Glass Ceiling,” organised by Nigeria Health Watch (NHW), Dr Abasi Eno-Obong, said: “We need to support women by speaking up and giving them a chance to explore opportunities to imprint their names in the sands of time. On accessing quality health care services, the need for concerted effort to make more women access health care services was also part of the discourse.”
Biola Alabi urged women to take responsibility and challenge the status quo: “We implore women in the media space to leave no stone unturned in ensuring that they maximally use their offices to propagate and advance the course of women and take necessary actions to bring them to the heights of their career. We are not asking for a favour but support to compete and get there.”
Senior Technical Adviser, Tony Blair Institute, Dr Ebere Okereke, decried the level of decay in the health system: “The health system was not designed to favour anyone, worse still; it is very difficult for women and the girl child to access quality health care services.
“We can’t achieve more with one of our hands tied behind us. We need adequate funding for family planning and population growth challenges as well as to invest in the girl child education; all hands must be on deck to make these agitations come through.”
Executive Director, Women in Successful Careers (WISCAR), Mrs Fabia Ogunmeka, said: “Girls are the next generation women leaders, so we need to do everything possible today to shape and secure their future.”
Chairperson, House Committee on Women Affairs, Oriyomi Onanuga, said: “Our women and the girl child must refuse to be useful only in the kitchen. We must learn different crafts, because there is more to being a woman than just getting married and having children.”
Managing Director, NHW, Vivianne Ihekweazu, said: “Reducing gender inequality and addressing harmful gender norms should be a top priority to ensure that healthcare delivery is gender-responsive.
“Elevating the voices of women and girls through the media, ensuring more gender-balanced representation at the leadership level supported by men standing in solidarity with women should drive improved sustainable development outcomes.
“Men are often the decision-makers in families and determine women’s access and use of health services. Men should be change agents in supporting women’s health as it is critical to give top priority to health issues that disproportionately impact women.
“We seek to amplify some of the great works happening in the health sector, challenge the bad, and create a space for positive ideas and action.”