In this year’s unique International Women’s Day (IWD), as countries and communities start to slowly recover from the unprecedented pandemic, the Climate and Sustainable Development Network (CSDevNet) gets a chance to drive action to end exclusion and marginalization of women and girls.
CSDevNet marked the IWD 2021 with a continental zoom webinar on the 10th of March, 2021, titled: Achieving Gender Equality and Climate Resilience amidst Covid-19.
Dr Ibrahim Choji, Chair CSDevNet Board of Trustees, opened the meeting by making emphasis on the stereotypes and beliefs that women have to work on to achieve gender equality and climate resilience amidst covid-19 in Nigeria.
“Women still face uphill task to be accepted in the political space. One task involves women supporting other women’s political ambition. This would go a long way since women constitute a large chunk of the voting population.”
“Another support for women’s involvement in politics would be the development of legislations that will stipulate reserving a proportion of political positions exclusively for women.”
The Board Chair also highlighted the burden climate change places on women considering the vast use of fossil fuels in cooking and their been at the receiving end of CO2 emissions, soot and smog.
“Women need to be empowered to improve their livelihoods in climate-resilient ways that will consequently mitigate Carbon dioxide emissions.
“Women’s knowledge in agro-ecology, agro-forestry and renewable energy should be improved through different training programs, workshops and exhibitions.
“Nigerian women still deserve more representation in decision-making at all levels: governance, budget lines, corporate sector and financial instruments that is able to innovate sustainable responses and solutions to environmental challenges.
Dr. Elizabeth Jeiyol (Director, Gender and Environmental Risk Reduction Initiative- GERI; North Central Coordinator, CSDevNet) the first keynote presenter, hinged on the need for men to support women in achieving their dreams and ambitions.
Elizabeth defined gender-based violence (GBV), highlighted the mutual sides of GBV and linked it to the environment with instances such as sexual/physical violence women get exposed to during domestic chores like fetching firewood.
Others forms of GBV include domestic violence, preventing women’s inheritance or land ownership, rape threats and smear campaigns against women environmental/human right defenders.
“The pandemic (Covid-19) has brought about an increase in GBV through increased resource insecurity thereby leading to increase in child marriages to lessen the burden on the family, increase in sexual exploitation and abuse, employment and livelihood looses.
“We must identify and support additional mechanisms and approaches to addressing GBV the pandemic lingers”.
The second keynote presenter, Mrs. Blessing Olugbuyi, who coordinates Caritas Development and Health Initiative (CDHI), averred that even though women are successful in a number of professions, they continue to face significant barriers to entry and participation.
Some of the barriers Blessing listed include: access to education/unequal treatment in the classroom, job segregation and discrimination, lack of bodily autonomy, sexual harassment, gender inequality in politics and lack of funds.
“In conclusion, household chores and childcare should be shared equally, women and girls should be more involved in every stage of urban design, cultural norms should be changed through media campaigns/education and any sign of domestic violence should be flagged or given maximum attention.”
Dr. Choji closed with a remark that a gender-enabled Nigeria where equality reigns is a challenge for all of us to work towards.
“We can actively #ChooseToChallenge stereotypes, broaden perceptions, improve situations and celebrate Nigerian women’s achievements
“Collectively each of us can help create an equal Nigeria,” he said.