By Kayode Ketefe
Another unsavoury report has just been published about Nigeria. This time around it is not the Transparency International’s verdict, (with the now familiar rating of the country as a place corruption has taken adventitious roots) neither is it about the World Bank rating Nigeria as one of the poorest countries in the world.
The latest addition to the ever-growing unpalatable reports on the appalling standards of life in the country is the report published by a London-based non-governmental organisation, Save the Children International, only last Monday.
The report adjudged Nigeria as the eighth worst place on Earth to be a mother. 178 countries were ranked and Nigeria occupies the unenviable 171st position! The seven countries that were rated to be worse than our nation are Sierra-Leone,(172nd), Central African Republic(173rd), Guinea Bissau(174th), Niger (175th), Mali(176th) and DR Congo(177th) Somalia brought up the rear as the worst place in the world to be mother with its shameful 178 position out of the 178 countries.
On the other hand, Finland is adjudged the best place to be a mother, followed by Norway, Sweden, Iceland and the Netherlands. Others top countries where motherhood could be pleasant experience include are Denmark (6th), Spain (7th), Germany (8th), Australia (9th) and Belgium (10th). Specific criteria that were used to judge the said 178 countries are maternal health, child mortality, education and levels of women’s income and political status.
Commenting on the report, the Save the Children International’s chief executive, Jasmine Whitbread, was quoted as saying “: “Ending preventable deaths of mothers and children will not be possible until fragile countries become more stable and health care more accessible.”
It is not surprising that the African countries inevitably occupy the lower rungs of the ladder in this assessment as they always do on any rating based on human development indices. Our continent is a place of famine, incessant internecine wars political instability, poverty et al. Save the Children International, further stated that 800 mothers and 18,000 young children die worldwide every single day from preventable causes with sub-Saharan African countries accounting for the lion share of these tragedies.
In Nigeria’s case, it should be obvious to anyone living here that we could not have fetched any fantastic rating when the quality of life of our women is the criterion. While it is a truism that life for the masses is hellish and brutish, it is even worse for the womenfolk with our entrenched biases and discrimination against women. Our maternal mortality rate is still one of the highest in the world. Our society thrives with a lot of harmful cultural practices inimical to the girl child and women like child marriage, affirmative male child preference and denial of education to female children.
Many of our laws like anti-domestic violence laws and Child Rights Act are poorly enforced while the international benchmark of the 25 per cent affirmative action in appointment to public offices are mostly disregarded. While some progress has been made in the area of improving employment opportunity for women, there is still an appreciable degree of discrimination against women in the workplace.
0ver 90 per cent of the Chief Executive Officers of the Nigerian top 100 companies are men. In the political front, women have not fared better; all what we have is snail’s speed progress. Ironically, our most important document, the 1999 Constitution itself contains some provisions that are gender-biased.
An example of explicit gender-biased provisions could be gleaned from its section 26 and 29 which makes differential provisions for both men and women on the issue of acquisition and renunciation of Nigerian citizenship, with men being given better deal that women. Our policies makers certainly have very little or no regard for the doctrine of gender mainstreaming, making it tough for women to compete favourably in a society dominated by men.
In the of the light of the above, it is high time we started working towards the actualisation of an androgynous society where the rights of every member are respected without recourse to irrelevant consideration of gender identity. This is not just for the purpose of fairness as dictated by concerns for human rights; adherence to culture of gender liberality also has proven beneficial.
Empirical researches interpreting a number of sociological data across different climes have shown that societies where the culture of androgyny (that is equal opportunities for both sexes) is well-entrenched are more advanced and prosperous than societies that are repressive and exploitative of woman.
This, of course, is not surprising, given the fact that both male and female have been endowed with differing talents, abilities and capacities by the providence which could well be harnessed synergistically for optimum effect.
On abducted Chibok school girls
This writer hereby joins his voice to the BRING BACK OUR GIRLScampaign to secure the release of more than 200 girls abducted from the Government Girls Secondary School in Chibok, Borno State, three weeks ago by the dreaded Boko Haram terrorist group. I call on the government, which has the constitutional role of ensuring safety and welfare of all Nigerians, to fashion out means to liberate the innocent girls by all means.
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