Re-exploring the Identities of the Woman – Dr. Ekemini Umoren’s Speech on International Women’s Day, 2018.


Dr. Ekemini Umoren, Ndoko

International women’s day dates to 1908. This historical day saw fifteen thousand women march passionately through the streets of New York demanding, among other things, voting rights, better pay and shorter work hours. In 1910, Clara Zetkin in Germany tabled the need for a day to be set aside for the celebration of women and to push for their demands. This saw a conference of one hundred women from over seventeen countries agreeing to her suggestion, hence the birth of ‘International Women’s Day’ in 1911
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First celebrated globally on March 19th, it was later transferred to march 8th in 1913. This can be likened to the Aba women riots of 1929 where a multitude of women united to fight against injustice mated out to women.

                    According to the world economic forum, the gender gap won’t close until 2086. That is about sixty-eight years from now. The same forum maintained that it could take about one hundred years before the global equality gap between men and women disappears entirely.

Wisdom they say is profitable to order, but from daily experiences, facts and evidence show that the discrimination against women has eaten deep into the very fibbers of humanity. This agent of impoverishment on all sides is enshrined in the laws and cultures of our land and today has found its way into the religious circle with most positions and functions designated for the men at the reckless abandonment of women, their talents, vision, purpose and emotions.

                   We live in a world where being a woman is synonymous to enduring abuses of all kinds in silence; where the silent treatment is the ultimate show of goodness, even in the face of death; a world where an ambitious woman is faced with all manners of condemnation; a world where violence against women is seen as a show of love and affection and child marriage, a right of perverts; a world where the woman is blamed for the mistake of the man, where though being the victim is condemned and the perpetrator is set free, a world where the talents and vision of women are subdued in the insecurities of men and women who believe that women belong in the kitchen and ‘the other room’ like our national leader once said on international television; a world where the education of the girl child is considered waste and investment for the advancement of her purpose and vision a fruitless venture.

                    Referencing the place of a woman in the life of man and the universe, the Bible calls her ‘the fit helper for Adam’. Digging deeper into the meaning of the word ‘helper’ reveals that one only needs help when such an individual is helpless or unable to complete a set goal alone. What this means is that the man as the roots, just like the tree, needs the help of the woman to grow, multiply and stay alive.

Women like men were created individually for a purpose, each born with a vision and solution to global problems. That the world today still battles with some basic issues and needs, and families languish in poverty and backwardness is because men primarily have refused to rise to the call of equality.

                            As we celebrate this year’s international women’s day, let us celebrate the great achievements of women the world over, observe a moment silence for surviving and fallen heroines. Remembering that the woman is equal to man as there is half a woman in every man and half a man in every woman; let us unite against gender inequality by fighting for the advancement of the vision, dreams and rights of the woman. The girl will one day be a woman; hence, championing her rights is ensuring the erasure of the equality gap for a most effective transformation of society in the overall interest of men and women.

To men and women, I urge you, to say no to segregation against women in occupying positions of leadership in politics, the corporate and business world, religious and cultural circle. Say no to child marriage, to rape and sexual harassment and domestic violence among others. To government, I stand here advocating for the indefinite suspension of all constitutional laws, religious and cultural practices which puts the woman in the disadvantage. 

To our women, I challenge you to rise above mediocrity, self doubt and denial, religious and cultural limitations, vigorously and relentlessly seek and pursue your vision and purpose for the fulfilment of your dreams.  The time to act is now. Alone I can be heard but united we will make the difference.

Dr. Ekemini Umoren,
Miss Akwa Ibom, 2017

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