Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, has said that equal rights for women is an imperative of justice and a debt owed to women and girls, not a gift.
Prof. Osinbajo stated this while delivering a keynote address at a webinar organized by Women In Africa (WIA) in collaboration with the MacArthur Foundation, to mark the 2021 International Women’s Day.
Prof. Osinbajo also highlighted the importance of men in making the demands for equal rights for women.
Speaking on correcting stereotypes against women in Africa and other developing societies, the Vice President said “for many generations, women have fought these manifestations of gender inequality. Over time the struggle has been refined to the level of a right to gender equality.”
Explaining further, he said that “the notion that women and men should have the same legal, social and political rights is the public law basis for Feminism. But something has changed in the past few years.”
Highlighting the gains of improving women participation in governance and other aspects of society, the Vice President said “women are now saying that the fight for gender equality is not for women and girls alone, it is also a fight for all fair minded and just men who believe that men and women must have equal rights.”
Describing the reinvigorated campaign for gender equality as the greatest leap of development in contemporary history, Prof. Osinbajo said “the campaign is much more important in shaping the future. Men are now being challenged to stand shoulder to shoulder with women in the struggle for gender equality.
“They are learning that insisting on equal rights for women is an imperative of justice and fairness, an entitlement, a debt owed to women and girls not a gift.”
Sharing his contributions on the theme of the 2021 celebrations “Choose to challenge”, the Vice President noted that “a child of a mother who can read is 50% more likely to live past the age of 5. Each additional school year increases a woman earning by 20%, 2/3 less maternal deaths if mothers finish primary school.”
“If we hold down half of the productive segment of our nation on account of culture or other frankly outdated considerations, we are much poorer and much more deprived as a whole. We do ourselves a favour by ensuring social and legal equality of women,” he added.
The Vice President who advocated for a change not just in laws but in mindsets and conventions, added that this is the basis of the theme, calling everyone to ‘Choose To Challenge’ biases and misconceptions in favour of a more gender inclusive world.
“But I would like to suggest that the most effective challenge that can be mounted is the education of girls,” Prof. Osinbajo submitted.
Other speakers at the event include President of the MacArthur Foundation, Mr John Palfrey; CEO of AXA Africa, Hassan El-Shabrawishi; President of Women In Africa Initiative, Hafsat Abiola-Costello, who moderated the discussion, among others.