The Association of Nigerian Women Leaders in Diaspora (ANWLD) features a 2-day Conference.
A seminar by ANWLD, YOUTH and NIDO:
HONORING NIGERIAN 50TH INDEPENDENT CELEBRATION
October 1, 2010
This event was held at the Embassy of Nigeria in Washington DC, marking the 50th anniversary of the Nigerian independence. The panel of discussants consisted of four ANWLD members current at the time. Each panelist presented a topic related to Nigeria and development, then the audience were allowed to respond by asking questions or making comments. Ms. Stella Onuoha, Ms. Beana, Ms. Duru and Dr. Stella Agogbuo sat on the panel for ANWLD.
The purpose of the conference was to articulate the role of Nigerian women, the impact women have in the society, the importance of women in today's global paradigm and most importantly, the urgent necessity for Nigerian women to have formal education.
Ms. Onuaha spoke about the role of strong family and the challenges faced by the Nigerian families in Diaspora. Ms Onuoha pointed out that the Nigerians in Diaspora are faced with the problems of adaptation, as well as maintaining the cultural values already imbibed in them upon departure from motherland. She further enumerated some ways of reducing the pressures, tensions and stressfulness that come with living in American society and raising a family. In conclusion, Ms Onuaha noted that the bulk of the job of a family falls on the shoulders of the women. The woman has to develop an ability to balance the art of being a carrier woman, a wife, and a mother to both her children, and to others. One of the examples she gave was a nurse who has worked all night, comes home to cook for her family, as well as perform other wifely duties to her husband.
Ms. Beana spoke about the need to give support to women in the rural areas of Nigeria. She stated that after 50 years of being independent as a country, it is now time to focus on making the women independent because that makes a country better economically. We ought to help the individual local women and girls in the villages to learn a trade, craft or mini jobs. Ms. Beane narrated how the talents of these women and young girls are being wasted due to lack of support, and lack of opportunities. She encouraged the audience and people in Diaspora to do whatever little they can when they go to Nigeria, to choose one rural woman in a village and set her up with something; not just giving them money to eat for that day, or for one week. She pointed to the fact that women have strong inner strengths, that if given the opportunity, they can do great things. Ms Beana pleaded to the Nigerian government to not only focus on the women in the urban areas and big cities, but to move into the rural areas and reach out to the women who are desolated, abandoned and marginalized. The Ambassador Prof. Adefuye responded to that call on government and said that certain programs are currently being put in place for reaching the rural women. The former US ambassador to Nigeria also agreed that those women in the rural communities do have talents, but due to lack of finances, those talents are never tapped into.
Another participant, Ms. Duru gave an insight on who a Nigerian woman really is. She stated the advantages of many processes and achievements Nigerian women have made over the years, through their struggle, fights, and movements from the time of the "Aba market women riot", in 1920s to the impact and results of the recent times. Ms. Duru recounted that these processes have brought women closer and closer to being able to participate in, and compete with the world's economic powers, and politics. Ms. Duru strongly mentioned that the Nigerian women have over the years been known as very strong, intelligent and courageous. She further gave an example of a woman who has a baby in her back, a basket on her head, and a baby in her tummy. This same woman will walk miles to go fetch fire wood, and get food for the other children at home, and other family members at home, including her husband. "That is a Nigerian woman".
"Obligations come before aspirations", Dr. Agogbuo spoke on the Nigerian Educational Policy/Culture and how these have affected women from pre-colonial era, colonial, and post independent era.
Dr. Stella Agogbuo stated that as the nation Nigeria aspires to achieve greater heights and be able to compete with the global economic and political trends, there is a need to address the obligations in the areas of education or educational policies. She stated that a Nation can only grow as much as the type of education it provides.
"A nation is as good as the quality of educational opportunities provided”, Dr. Agogbuo maintained that it is necessary to revisit the drawing board, redesign and implemented a stable education for women and men as needed in Nigeria. She acknowledged the influences of cultural values that Nigerian families face: for instance, if a family is short of finances, the choice is to send the boys to school, and let the girls stay home, even if the girl is smarter and could do better in school. A quote that says: "If you educated a girl, you educate a nation, but if you educate a boy, you educate an individual" is not an overstatement. The reason behind this quote; research shows that educated women make sure their children are well educated, but an illiterate woman may likely not be able to do as much with her children's education. You can only give what you have. Children are the future of the nation, like President Obama said; a nation would do better if every child that deserved education gets it. This means that every child needs to get an education in order to keep the future of a nation going in the right directions. The notion that boys do better in sports or any other subject had long been debunked. The government should supply sporting equipments to the boy’s schools and not do same for girl’s schools are unacceptable. Science, sports, math, computers, aviation equipment, etc. should be supplied to all schools equally. Dr. Agogbuo stated the examples of the great works of women like Chief Mrs. Margaret Ekpo, Mrs. Adede Williams who brought changes in the society, also the likes of Mrs. Ngozi O. Iwuala, Dr. Kema Chikwe, and Mrs. Ezekwesili, who belong to the recent generations and doing great work at the World Bank, Dublin, and in Nigeria respectively. Women can do just fine.
Finally, Dr. Agogbuo called for a total reformation and support towards the empowerment of women. The world is tired of all the wars, crises, dictatorship, economic recessions, poor leadership and poor politics which the male leaders have created forthwith. The Association of Nigerian Women Leaders in Diaspora (ANWLD) is taking the bull by the horn and ready to make a difference.
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