By Esther Onyegbula
AÂ non-governmental organisation, the Lift Above Poverty Organisation, LAPO, says the inclusiveness of women in all spheres of the society will help fast-track Nigeriaâ€™s socio-economic development.
The Executive Director of LAPO, Mrs Sabina Idowu-Osehobo gave the charge while speaking at the 2018 International Womenâ€™s Day ceremony organised by LAPO Lagos 2 Region.
The International Womenâ€™s Day had the theme: Press for Progress, while LAPOâ€™s celebration had the sub-theme: Fundamentals of Progress for Nigerian Women.
The executive director who was represented by Mrs Sandra Asowata, Regional Officer, LAPO Lagos 2 Region, said the organisation wasÂ committed to the social, health and economic empowerment of the poor and the vulnerable across the country.
She said: â€�Historically, women are subjected to marginalisation, oppression and injustice in our patriarchal African society. They are discriminated against in their public and private life with increasing cases of infringement on their rights.
â€œWomen and girls do not enjoy equal access to education, economic resources, political representation, employment, leadership and decision-making like their male counterparts at all levels.
â€œIn this age and time, we still have baffling reports of half a billion illiterate women, 120 million girls who have experienced rape and other forced sexual acts, 62 million uneducated girls, 40,000 daily child brides and 155 countries operating discriminatory laws.
â€œAs a community development organisation, LAPO strongly believes that no appreciable development can be made either at the local, national or international front without acknowledging women as equal players in decision-making and empowering, up-skilling and investing in them.
According to her, in view of this, the organisation for over two decades has been at the forefront of the struggle of advancing womenâ€™sÂ Â cause and supporting projects that empower them socially and economically.
Idowu-Osehobo said in 2016, LAPO reached over 1.2 million persons with social and health awareness programmes.
She added that between October 2014 and December 2017, LAPO Lagos 2 Region reached 27,853 clients of LAPO Microfinance Bank on social issues like the consequences of widowhood rites, male preference, teenage pregnancy, early marriage, domestic violence, rape, divorce/separation, among others.
Also speaking, Mrs Airat Alamu,Â Â Education Secretary,Â Â Alimosho Local Government Education Authority,Â Â said women were mostly affected by poverty and other negative socio- economic issues bedevilling the country.
â€œThe struggle of enhancing and broadening womenâ€™s opportunities to actively participate in the leadership of their societal affairs through gender equality and equal rights should beÂ emphasised and improved upon for the women to have a say and responsibility in the society.
â€œOur restructuring crusade should include the elevation of women in all sectors of our economy and political terrain to haveÂ gender balance,â€� she added.
In her lecture,Â Â the guest lecturer, Mrs Margaret Mekwuye,Â Â Executive Director, Greenspring Development Initiative, urged the women to become active participants in national development by obtaining their Personal Votersâ€˜ Cards, PVCsÂ Â ahead of the 2019 polls.
Mekwuye said there was need to improve upon the 13 per cent affirmative action, stressing that many Nigerian women had distinguished themselves in various fields of endeavour.
The high point of the celebration was the presentation of certificates to over 100 women who successfully completed the Financial Literacy Training organised by LAPO NGO.