Obasanjo Deplores Cultural Inhibitions Against Women
President Olusegun Obasa-njo has said women in Africa are facing a lot of cultural and religious inhibitions that are retarding their progress
Speaking at the maiden meeting of the African Women Leaders think-tank in Ota at the weekend, the President, who is the current Chairman of African Union (AU), said African women do not enjoy the same educational opportunities like their male counterparts.
He said for African woman to be fully liberated, “those cultural and religious inhibitions must be tackled but tackling them will be difficult because they serve the interests of men.”
The President stressed the need for women to carry men along in their fight for liberation, failing which, they would continue to languish in perpetual men's bondage and inequality.
He said at AU level, a measure of progress had been recorded “because there is parity in AU and a number of African parliaments have achieved about 50 per cent membership of women.”
“These are good signs but still not good enough,” he said, pointing out that he believed the “road map” that would emerge at the Ota meeting would form a valid referral document at regional and sub-regional for issues of women.
“We must be able to make the difference, we must give women their due empowerment and not just in the area of access to credit but the right to be part of the decision-making process at their various countries,” he said.
“You must be proactive but without being offensive, with a touch of respectability to the menfolk, I believe we can work together so that Africa can have two strong legs to be able to run faster and develop better,” he added.
The President, who was the initiator of the maiden meeting following a submission made by women to African Union leaders at their summit, said he believed the meeting was important to rob minds together and come up with a united strategy to help African women.
``We have come a long way, but we are not there yet and we should not deceive ourselves,'' Obasanjo said,assuring women that for as long as he remained relevant, he would continue to fight on their side, believing that their emancipation was for the general good of the continent.
The president of the African Parliament, Mrs Getrude Mungela,
said the AU chairman had always supported the cause of womanhood and was part of the initiators of the Beijing women conference of 1995.
She commended Obasanjo's peace initiatives and insistence for
democratic norms and principles all over Africa, stating that
his timely intervention in the crisis that erupted in Togo saved that country from a major political upheaval.
Many women from different parts of the continent attended the two-day meeting, which would, among other things, work out a strategy for a more rapid means of women empowerment in Africa.