A balanced word is a better world; International Women’s Day 2019
It is International Women’s Day 2019! And the theme for this year is #BalanceforBetter.
The first IWD occurred in 1911 and it was supported by over one million people. They say it is a man’s world, but that notion is fast becoming obsolete. International Women’s Day is a global day for celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women, while also making a call to action for accelerating gender equality.
IWD is a focal point for the movement of women’s right. For some people, it is a day to celebrate womanhood, although I am of the opinion that womanhood should be celebrated every day! Across the world today, women are making ground-breaking progress in all areas; professionally, politically, academically, agriculturally, and otherwise. Gender balance is not a women’s issue. It is a general issue. The race is on for the gender-balanced boardroom, a gender-balanced government, gender-balanced media coverage, a gender balance of employees, more gender balance in wealth, sports, etc.
For us at Knit Together Initiative, today, we bring you stories from young women around us who are out there, striving to create a balance in their own world. These young women refused to be swayed by any form of gender bias in their society, living the saying that “What a man can do, a woman can do also”. They’re out on a journey to creating their gender-balanced world, and there’s no stopping them!
“Let’s make sure women and girls can shape the policies, services and infrastructure that impact all our lives. And let’s support women and girls who are breaking barriers to create a better world for everyone.”
– UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres.
Meet Vivian Amarachi Ukaegbu, an Abia State born final year student of the Federal University, Otueke. Her words, “As a student, I also do little things to help myself. I’m into shoe making. I make both male and female shoes. I started this last year June during my Industrial training period. I did not want to spend the 6 months doing just my IT, so I decided to start this. I enrolled to learn for five months.”
On what inspired her, she said, “So many things inspired me, especially the economy of the country. I realized that if I’m not able to create something for myself, things might get difficult after graduation. So I thought of things to do, looking for something extraordinary that will make people marvel. That is why I started doing this.
I’ve faced lots of challenges so far. Our government has not really being helpful. It is so difficult to get loans. In addition to that, getting customers as a beginner has been a very hard nut to crack. So most times, I just post my work online, and those interested will order for it. Also, the gums we use are not reliable. Most of the people who sell gums reduce the quality by adding fuel; hence, the gum loses its integrity. The original and better gums are quite expensive.
We threw the question of the existence of male and female jobs and she said, “For me, I wouldn’t say there is a specific work for a male or female. The key word is determination. If you’re determined to do a thing, you’ll go ahead and do it.”
She had the following pieces of advice for women and girls, “I advise the females not to depend wholly on a man. The men are humans, and they could one day, get tired of fending for you. Therefore, you should strive to be creative in your own way. Don’t just depend on your academic certificates or qualifications. Work out something for yourself. Being independent makes you who you are. Be your own boss. So that in the future, it will pay off. I’m not in support of depending on mummy or daddy or boyfriend or husband. Be up and doing. No matter what it takes, just start. Personally, I didn’t have finances to start. I just used my savings, and today by Gods grace, I’m earning well now through this handwork. So be up and doing and God will help you!
We also had a session with 21 year old Ebulu Mercy Kelechi also known as “mercysticks”. She is a drummer and a fresh graduate of Management from the University of Port-Harcourt and an Abia State born in Ohafia local government area. Her inspiration; “What inspired me to start drumming was a vacuum created in my local church. My local church didn’t have a drummer, so I decided to play the drums for the church even if I couldn’t really play at that time. I had to develop my skill on the job. I’ve been playing drums for the past 6 years. But professionally, I’ve been playing drums for 3 years now.”
One of her challenges was the gender bias. Hear her, “Being a drummer can be a tough career choice for a girl. As a female drummer, I’ve been treated as someone trespassing on male territory. As a female drummer taking what is perceived as a male part, always has a lot to prove. When I was in secondary school, I would say I play the drums and boys would laugh at me. It was sort of a joke. When they realized I could play, they were completely intimidated. As a female drummer you are constantly striving against a barrage of criticism. Plus, I got the problem of buying stuffs in music shops. I found the experience excruciating. “You’d ask for a drum skin or drum stick, and they would just try to confuse you with brand names, to make you feel like an idiot even if you knew what you were talking about.”
On her idea of the existence of male or female jobs, she said, “I don’t think that there is anything like male or female jobs. It is just that there are jobs which are male dominated and vice versa.”
She had this advice for other women and girls, “First my advice goes to girls striving to thrive in a male dominated field. Do not despise your days of little beginning. Believe in yourself and take responsibility. Dare to be different! The future is exciting, let’s build a gender-balanced world. The theme for the international women’s day 2019 is: “Balance for Better”. Balance drives a better working world. Let’s all help create a #BalanceforBetter!
Finally, we met with Miss Vincent Chinogozim Fiona, a 400 level student at the University Of Port Harcourt, Faculty of Agriculture. She is an agriculturist or an agricultural entrepreneur. She described her passion as instinctive. “I had an instinctive motivation. I love independence, financially to be precise. I always wanted to do something to get extra cash to be able to get my wants instead of depending on my parents. I basically love Agriculture, moreover that is my course of study so I ventured into it. I started on the 16th of September 2017. It’s been one year, 5 months, 14 days and still counting.”
On the question of her challenges faced, she said, “I don’t think I’ve faced much challenges, I’d say I’m blessed. My farm is in my house, we have steady water and much more. The only thing I might call a challenge is the high cost of feeds. Which as an agriculturist, I supplement their feeds which natural feeds such as maggot meal, blood meal, chicken intestine, earthworms and so much more.”
Miss Fiona didn’t agree that there is such a thing as a male or female job. “For me, I don’t think there’s any job specification assigned to a particular gender. The world is changing and the voices of women are now being heard. Women are also now being educated and given opportunities in contributing to the world’s economy. In this century I don’t think there’s anything like a male or female job.”
There, you have it. Gender balance is essential for economies and communities to thrive. Balance drives a better working world. Let us all help to create this kind of world. Everyone has a role to play if we must achieve this.
Let’s join these industrious women to break all barriers to gender equality. The future is exciting. Let’s build a gender-balanced world! #BalanceforBetter
Amadi Ogechi Vinaprisca
Communications Assistant KTI