He-For-She: A UN Initiative For Gender Bridging

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BY BLESSING BATURE

Recently, the federal government launched a gender friendly initiative, “HeForShe solidarity movement to support the idea of gender equality. BLESSING BATURE writes on the role of the campaign in  ending discrimination against women.

The Federal Government on Tuesday in Abuja launched a solidarity campaign for the advancement of women initiated by the United Nations Women, tagged “HeForShe campaign.”
The campaign is aimed at engaging men and boys as agents of change by encouraging them to take action against gender inequality.
The Acting President Yemi Osinbajo at the launch said, gender equality is an imperative of justice and fairness in every society.
Stressing that the fight for gender equality is not only an imperative of justice and fairness but also an entitlement and debt owed to women.“There is no hiding place either in religion, law or public policy for the treatment Over time, the struggle has been refined to the level of a right to gender equality, the notion that women and men should have the same legal, social and political rights.”
He continued, “this is a body of rights which in public law is a basis for feminism.
“This is perhaps the greatest leap of development in contemporary history, when boys and girls can’t today, take gender equality for granted, women and girls will be free to reach their full potentials to get decent education and earn equal pay for equal work, and the full potential of the other half of the population will finally be unleashed.”
“Even the most educated or the best educated of women will probably, several times in their working lives be subjected to one form of gender-based discrimination or another” hee noted, adding that, many may even add to the growing statistics of victims of domestic violence.”
“It is an entitlement, a debt owed to women and it is not a gift. It is perhaps the greatest leap of development in contemporary history.”
He stated that the campaign has challenged men and boys to stand with women in the struggle for gender equality. “When boys and girls can today take gender equality for granted, women and girls would be free potentials and have equal pay for equal work. The full potential of over half of the population of the world will finally be unleashed. The implications of this for vastly improved quality of life for all can only be imagined,” he  said.
He further noted that educated women and girls can favourably compete with their male counterparts anywhere in the world.
Over 40% of the women population is illiterate, making them unable to get decent jobs like men.
“And illiteracy means that they would not find decent working jobs; that they would, in many places, be married off early; many would be discriminated against in inheritance rights or punitive widowhood practices,” he stressed.
In the same vein, the Minister of Women Affairs and Social Development, Sen. Aisha Alhassan, said it was designed to secure the commitment of one billion men across the globe.
“Out of the signatories to the campaign in the country, we anticipate that half will take the initial step of making a simple pledge for gender equality.
Aisha in her key note address, stressed that the plan identifies the crucial role of men and boys will play as partners for the promotion and protection of women’s rights. The underlying principles for the plan, reflects the agreed conclusions of the 48 session of the United Nations commission on the status of women (CSW) OF 2004, which explicitly stated that men and boys have greater roles to play if accountability to gender equality is to be achieved in all societies.
“We also project that another quarter will pledge and be inspired to engage more fully, taking a second step to donate towards, advocate for, and sensitise themselves and other gender equality issues,’’ the minister said.
She said the final and last quarter would deepen their engagement by pledging and following through on major actions that substantially contribute to social change.
Alhassan said the campaign was not to seek equality with men from the religious aspect but to give women opportunity and bridge the gap with men.
She said the campaign would crystallised into a strategic shift that increasingly focus on actions bringing men and boys side by side with women and girls in order to break the barrier of women and girls from achieving their full potentials.
“HeForShe 10 impact Project’ launched in 2015, the projects brings together 10 heads of states, 10 global Chief Executive Officers and 10 university Presidents or vice chancellors who would sign on to 30 communities to fast track gender equality in board rooms and world capitals.
“Drawing a leaf from their example, I would like to appeal to acknowledge gender champions which includes royal fathers, religious leaders, celebrities, political leaders, civil society organisation actors, private sector chief executives, institutional and social administrators.’’
The Minister of Women Affairs and Social Development, Senator Aisha Alhassan, said the equality being asked by women is for them to have opportunity to contribute to nation building.
She said the He-for-She campaign would place men and boys side by side with women and girls to break all barriers to gender equality.
UN Women Country Representative, Comfort Lamptey, noted that the United Nations entity is dedicated to achieving gender equality and women’s empowerment to unveil the HeForShe IMPACT 10X10X10 pilot initiative to stimulate momentum in advancing gender equality and women’s empowerment.
The HeForShe campaign’s IMPACT 10X10X10 initiative is a one-year pilot effort that aims to engage governments, corporations and universities as instruments of change positioned within some of the communities that most need to address deficiencies in women’s empowerment and gender equality and that have the greatest capacity to make and influence those changes. Each sector will identify approaches for addressing gender inequality, and pilot test the effectiveness of these interventions for scalability.