Every March 8 is marked all over the world as International Women’s Day (IWD). It is a day set apart to celebrate the economic, political and social achievements of women’s past, present and future, while diligently remembering the continued vigilance and action required to ensure that women’s equality is gained and maintained in all aspects of life.
The day has been observed since the early 1900s, a time of great expansion and turbulence in the industrialised world that saw booming population growth and the rise of radical ideologies.
With great unrest and critical debate occurring amongst women, women’s oppression and inequality spurred women to become more vocal and active in campaigning for change. Then in 1908, 15,000 women marched through New York City demanding shorter hours, better pay and voting rights.
In accordance with a declaration by the Socialist Party of America, the first National Woman’s Day (NWD) was observed across the United States on February 28 and women continued to celebrate NWD on the last Sunday of February until 1913.
In 1913, following discussions, International Women’s Day was transferred to 8 March and this day has remained the global date for International Women’s Day ever since.
Annually on 8 March, thousands of events are held throughout the world to inspire women and celebrate achievements. A global web of rich and diverse local activity connects women from all around the world ranging from political rallies, business conferences, government activities and networking events through to local women’s craft markets, theatrical performances, fashion parades and more.
In Ogun State, it was not different, as women under the aegis of Women for Change and Development Initiative (W4CDI) came together to mark the day with a mini-rally, dance drama, talk shop and presentation of awards.
The W4CDI is the pet project of the First Lady of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Dame Patience Jonathan, which seeks to better the lots of the Nigerian woman economically, socially and politically.
As part of the events marking the day, women, drawn from the 20 Local Government Areas of the state, converged on Ijebu Igbo, the headquarters of Ijebu North Local Government, to celebrate themselves and put the issues that affect them in proper perspective.
Speakers at the event emphasised the need for women to mobilise and organise themselves to be change agents in their communities, especially as the 2015 general elections draw nearer. They also appealed to the men folk, various private and public institutions to support the women to realise their full potential.
The programme also featured a dance drama which enumerated the achievements of women in various fields of endeavour, as well as made a case on the need to continue to encourage them.
The high point of the day was the presentation of awards to some women-friendly leaders and senior citizens of the state, which was unique, as the women used this avenue to celebrate the men.
Speaking on the rationale for the awards, the State Coordinator of the W4CDI, Chief (Mrs) Abosede Ogunleye, said, “We reckoned that for women to fully realise their potential, we need to carry the men along and appreciate them. That is why we are not just celebrating ourselves but also honouring men who have been our bedrock and supporters all the way.”
She added that the awardees were chosen after a careful appraisal of their support for women and the less-privileged in the society, in line with the objective of the W4CDI.
Among the award recipients were former Deputy Governor of Ogun State, Alhaji Rafiu Ogunleye; Chairman, Organisation and Mobilisation Committee, PDP, South West, Prince Buruji Kashamu; Chairman, Elders Council, PDP, Ogun State, Alhaji Agboola Alausa; State PDP Chairman, Engineer Adebayo Dayo; former acting Zonal Secretary, Chief ‘Pegba Otemolu; PDP chieftain, Chief Tunde Olowu; State PDP Secretary, Alhaji Semiu Sodipo; party stalwart, Chief Zacchaeus Oyekunle and governorship aspirant, Honourable Kayode Amusan.
Others were former Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice in Ogun State, Chief Tola Odulaja; former Commissioner for Forestry, Dr.
Adedoyin Adeleke; another gubernatorial aspirant, Chief Sikirulai Ogundele and party chieftains, such as Otunba Ola Kukoyi and Dele Odulaja, among others.
One good turn, they say, deserves another. And so it was that a good number of the awardees made one donation or the other in support of the non-governmental organisation. In all, over N5 million was realised in cash and kind.
Speaking on behalf of the awardees, Kashamu thanked the organisers of the event for the honour, just as he announced a donation of N1 million and three cars to the organisation.
He also announced the donation of office space to the organisation within the premises of the Goodluck Jonathan Political Centre, Ijebu-Igbo, Ogun State.
The centre, which sits on 20 acres of land, comprises a 3, 500 capacity hall, 10-room office space, five chalets of 20 rooms and a big open space.
According to Kashamu, the commitment of the President to internal democracy, democratic ideals and the rule of law spurred him into naming the centre after him.
He said it was such disposition that made it possible for him and others to be able to ventilate their views and bring about a new order in party politics in Ogun State and the entire South West geo-political zone where the people, not a powerful few, will determine their own fate.
“Our dear humble and humane President has shown in words and actions that he is irrevocably committed to allowing due process to prevail in whatever he does. Look at the way he handled the recent issue in the aviation sector. When his detractors were losing their heads and calling for the immediate sack of the officials, he said he would follow due process. At the end of the day, he followed the due process of law and did more than what his detractors were clamouring for,” Kashamu said.
He reiterated his commitment to the Transformation Agenda of Mr. President, just as he assured W4CDI that it had found a dependable ally in him.
Fuji musician, Abass Akande Obesere, who was on a private visit to Kashamu, churned out some of his classic tunes to the admiration of all the guests.