Jet Stanley Madu
Recently, members of the Justice Development and Peace Commission of the Catholic Lagos Archdiocese joined the rest of the world to mark the International Day for Elimination of Violence against Women.
One of the programmes to mark the day was a special enlightenment walk. The walk, tagged, ‘Special Campaign on Gender Equality,’ was designed to create awareness on gender-based injustices as well as the rights of children.
It commenced from Saint Martins De Poress, Agric in Ojo, with a brief stopover of Ojo Local Government Area and terminated at Saint Patrick Catholic Church, Ojo-Alaba.
During the exercise, members of the group spoke against some ills still being perpetuated against the womenfolk. They bore placards with inscriptions like Stop Violence Against Women; Gender Equality Is Not A Woman’s Issue, It Is A Human Issue; Say No To Genital Mutilation; Women Should Not Be Denied Their Right Of Inheritance; Reward and Promotion Should Be Based On Merit Not
Sex, and others.
At Ojo Local Government Secretariat, the Vice Chairman, Mrs. Edna Uche-Ubochi received the group on behalf of the council boss. She described the message being passed on by the JDPC as one that was in tandem with visions of the government. She said the campaign would have multiplier effects on the entire citizenry.
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She expressed the hope that through the messages and information the organization was passing across, a lot of people particularly, women that were experiencing violation would know how to
get help. She expressed the hope that in no distant future, female governors and presidents would
begin to emerge in the country.
Her words: “Often, the womenfolk are taken as the weaker vessels. But, we are not weak. We are just asking for the right to freedom, right to be heard, right to quality education and right to inheritance.”
The group is under the guidance of the Archdiocesan Director, Very Rev Fr. Raymond Anoliefo Onyema Onynakeya who, alongside Obiagheli Ukomadu, led the procession. He said the day’s objective supports one of the millennium development goals, which deals with gender equality. He stated that the JDPC had, over the years, been stressing the need to treat people equally.
“We believe that for a nation to grow, people should be accorded their respect according to their ability, not necessarily on their sex. Also, we demand women’s right to inheritance. We are gladdened by the Supreme Court’s ruling in the South-eastern Nigeria that women have equal inheritance as men. We thank God for that.
Onyema, who is Festac JDPC Coordinator, called for concerted efforts at greater awareness creation.
He also called on the council to assist in ensuring that the message got to as many people as possible.
“One of the reasons we are here today, is for your government to help us in what we’re doing. Our women should be heard. We want a situation where by deliberate considerations, if there are structures and circumstances that are inhibiting their progress, please look into them”.
At the terminal point, the Associate Parish Priest, Rev, Fr. Henry Ukaegbu stood in for the Parish Priest, Very Rev. Fr. Francis Ike who is Dean, JDPC Satellite Deanery.
The clergyman acknowledged that lots of violence was being perpetrated daily in the world, amidst a seemingly grave silence. He stated that through its initiatives, the JDPC had shown that “even if the world is silent, the church is not.”
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The priest expressed the hope that the group had disseminated much information that would be beneficial to people they encountered in the course of the long walk.
His words: “I know that this walk must have attracted a lot of attention, whereby peoples’ interest could be aroused. And that is the message we’re talking about.
“So, we’ll keep taking the message to those that are really involved. By the grace of God, it will get
to those affected. God who rewards every effort will water every effort that we all have put in here today in Jesus mighty name.”