Igbo women across the world have taken the bull by the horn with the formation of the Igbo Women Movement Worldwide (IWMW), a unifying umbrella of Igbo women all over the world with a mission to protect, defend, and promote Igboland, people and culture.
The organisation, which aims to change “the current narrative of the Igbo nation leveraging on the capacity of Igbo women globally”, was inaugurated in Paris, France on August 28, 2021.
Chinwe Okoroigwe (Adaigbo Gburugburu), the Convener of Igbo Women Movement Worldwide (IWMW), said at the inauguration ceremony that the organisation was born as a response to the precarious and increasingly endangered position of Ndigbo in Nigeria.
“The Igbos have suffered and continue to suffer marginalisation, economic oppression, infrastructural underdevelopment, judicial bias, and worst of it all, extra-judicial killings and intimidation,” Okoroigwe said in a note on the website of IWMW.
She said the Igbo women can no longer keep silent and watch these atrocious acts being perpetrated against Ndigbo, with women mostly at the receiving end as they bear the pain of losing their husbands or children, and are sometimes raped or murdered.
“The time has come for Igbo women around the world to unite with one voice and speak against oppression, stand in the gap for each other, feed our starving children, help build up our sisters in the rural areas who have no access to quality healthcare, education for their children and means to a decent livelihood. It is on this premise that IGBO WOMEN MOVEMENT WORLDWIDE was born,” she said.
She appreciated the sacrifice and commitment of all those gathered at the inauguration ground, promising, on behalf of IWMW, that this sacrifice would not be a waste.
“We will work in harmony, in togetherness and, above all, with the love for Alaigbo burning in our hearts, we will not relent until Alaigbo is better for it,” she said.
Also speaking at the inauguration, Dr. Nkeiruka N. Onyia (Ugojeremba), Executive Director of IWMW, likened the movement’s humble beginnings to the biblical mustard seed that grew into a giant tree and provided shelter to the birds of the air, sun-scorched farmers, and the wild animals exhausted from the daily toil of searching for their next meal.
“And in truth and indeed, this is exactly what IWMW means to a lot of people. We represent the hope, aspirations and desires of our people both young and old, men and women, peasant and elite for an egalitarian and progressive Igbo society,” Onyia said.
While testifying to the achievement of the movement in the short period of its existence, including support to widows, defending the oppressed, confronting child abusers and predators, calling out enemies of Ndigbo and catering to the welfare of orphans, she invited every Igbo woman to join IWMW, particularly as the movement embarks on the next phase of its programme which involves developmental projects in Alaigbo.
In his keynote address, Dr. Ben Onwuzurike, a consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist, who chaired the occasion, described Igbo women as independent-minded, self-motivated, resilient, family-oriented, hardworking, and high achievers with a high spirit of survival.
Onwuzurike added that all that is needed for Igbo women to fly high as the eagles is solidarity and support from their male counterparts.
IWMW has its headquarters in Paris, France, with chapters worldwide including the UK and Europe, the Americas, and Africa, according to a press statement signed by Hon. Juliet Chiemenem, Public Relations Officer of IWMW. Membership of the organisation is open to all Igbo women aged 18 years and over.
IWMW envisions a free and prosperous Igboland where every indigene can attain their full potential and fulfil their destiny.