Appreciating the role of women in Covid-19 world

By Emeka Ozumba 
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Today is the International Women's Day (IWD) 2021. A day set aside by the United Nations for people around the world to celebrate women in all form of diversities viz culture, faith, ethnicity, disability etc in recognition of their role in making the world a better place for all.

The theme of this year's celeration: “Women in leadership: Achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 world” recognizes that women and girls are critical in being upfront with solutions in our communities and far-flung corners of the world in pursuit of a more equal future and recovery from Coronavirus.

Over the years, the UN and other relevant global institutions remind us that:

Women’s rights are human rights!” This is more so in our paternalistic environment where the incidence of gender based violence and other molestations of women are still rife and thriving. For instance, women bear the brunt of overstretched health system as well as the challenges of sexual and reproductive health services (SRH) which leaves many vulnerable, not forgetting the increasing disruption and incidence of unintended pregnancy among women and girls which is worsened by excruciating poverty.

This challenging scenario further re-enforces the need to use this momentous occasion of IWD to rally support for women's equality, gender equity and human rights in other to appreciate them and lighten the burden they bear in the quest for a better society.

The IWD presents opportunity to recall the pioneering effort of Nigerian heroines like late Mrs Margaret Ekpo, and Prof Dora Akunyili who at various times propagated and represented the interest of women.In recent times the effort of wife of Governor of Anambra State, Mrs Ebelechukwu Obiano (Osodieme) resonates in the area of women empowerment in Anambra State. It is noteworthy that Mrs Obiano championed the increase in number of women in positions of authority at various level thus placing the State well above the national benchmark of 35% affirmative action. Above all, she has, through the auspices of her NGO Caring Family Enhancement Initiative (CAFE), set a new paradigm for improving the welbeing of women through provision of free housing for indigent widows, training and empowerment of over five thousand to mention a few life-changing interventions targeted at women. Just last week, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo Iweala assumed duty as Director General of World Trade Organization thus showing that women are capable of handling leadership responsibilities at the highest level.

As the world grapples with the intensity of a rampaging pandemic with unknown variants emerging daily, the disparity in healthcare provision between developed and developing nations couldn't have been clearer with the glaring case of Covid-19 vaccine availability and distribution in the West, and its scarcity in Africa and the rest of the third world which are anxiously waiting to celebrate the arrival of #COVAX vaccine hand-down.

Reversing the trend of suffocating challenges confronting our womenfolk starts with recognizing their tremendous effort and the positive value-addition by our communities. IWD provides us with yet another opportunity to project women in line with the IWD 2021 Campaign theme:

#ChooseToChallenge, by calling out every incidence of gender bias and inequality as well as celebrate landmark achievements by women in order to inspire a better future.

Ozumba is a Public Affairs Analyst