Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
First Lady of Ekiti State Bisi Fayemi, former the Vice-President of the World Bank’s Africa division and former minister under-Olusegun Obasanjo’s administration, Obiageli Ezekwesili, Minister for Women Affairs, Hon Paulen Tallen, are among the 2,000 women expected at the National Women’s Dialogue 2019, with the theme: ‘The Nigeria We Want: Nigerian Women-A National Conversation’.
According to the Communications Chair of the dialogue, Mary Ikoku, the three-day dialogue is scheduled to hold at the National Center for Women Development (NCWD), Abuja from November 27 to 29.
The conference, tagged ‘WOMANIFESTO ‘19’, aims to bring women together to dialogue and come up with a charter of demands on issues affecting women and children in the country.
The event will feature presentations and discussions in areas of health care, women participation in politics, business and other gender related issues such as the percentage of out of school girls, zearly marriage, maternal death rate, the effect of insurgency on women and children, among other concerns.
Delegates will be drawn from women groups, collectives, civil societies, entrepreneurs, professionals, social media influencers and women in the work force.
Other keynote speakers aside from Tallen, Fayemi and Ezekwesili, are Josephine Aneinh, Founder Women Foundation of Nigeria and Human Right Activist, Hauwa Shekau, among others.
Other notable personalities expected at the event include: Senator Abiodun Olujimi, Senator Betty Apiafi, Hon Nkiru Onyejeocha, Hajiya Saudatu Mahdi, a Women’s Right Advocate and the Secretary General of Women’s Rights Advancement and Protection Alternative (WRAPA), Dr Amina Salihu, MacArthur Foundation Nigeria Office.
Others are Dr Pricilia Ankut, EU Rule of Law project, Dr Adiya Ode, DFID, Osai Ojugho CountryDirector, Amnesty International and Dr Ene Obi of Action Aid, Mary Ikoku, Founder Emerge Women, Ebere Ifendu, convener Women Politics Forum and Prof Hauwa Imam, University of Abuja, Dr Abiola Akinyode – Afolabi, Dean, Faculty of law, University of Lagos, Prof Ayo Atsenuwa, Prof. Joy Ezeilo, Ambassador Nkoyo Toyo, Hafsat Abiola Costello, Fatima Zakari, and UN – Women Regional Representative, Comfort Lamptey.
Ikoku recalled that in 2003, running parallel to the National Conference and Pro-Democracy Groups Organising’ PRONACO, Nigerian Women Convened under the Women Orgnisation for National Conference (WORNACO), a platform created for women drawn from several sections of the society to articulate their demands and aspirations. This demand became what is known as ‘Womanifesto’.
“Other demands have also been articulated by different groups over the years but some of these are obsolete or have not had an organized movement pushing or backing for for its actualization.
“In a lot of ways, there are ambiguities about Nigerian women’s demands to both government and non-government institutions. Admittedly, this is due to the heterogenous nature of women as Nigerians with varied affiliations, religious beliefs, economic goals, ethnic backgrounds but research has shown that the challenges that Nigerian women face has some commonalities.
“Therefore, there is an urgent need for a broad-based set of agreed demands that capture the in clear terms, sets of indicators that adds up as a description of the vision that Nigerian women have for the country.
“This has become imperative even as the past three development and economic plan and agenda of governments espoused in documents such as NEEDS, Vision20202 and the recent Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) were not totally inclusive of women’s participation and neither does it capture the aspirations of a cross section of Nigerian women.
“Therefore, a cohort of various women led and women focused organisations have come together to organize a National Women Dialogue for the purpose of generating a collective agenda that becomes a common cause around which a movement can emerge.
“The dialogue will be an opportunity to update the womanifesto and develop a more encompassing one.
“The National Women Dialogue is conceptualized as a follow up to the recently organized feminist meeting where various themes were identified and SMART objectives identified.”