How to build progressive, resilient societies—- Ezekwesili
Dr Oby Ezekwesili,
By Busayo Onijala
Dr Oby Ezekwesili, Founder, School of Politics, Policy and Governance (SPPG) ,says focus on policies that encourage gender equality and inclusion help in building progressive and resilient societies.
Ezekwesili, also a former Vice-President of the World Bank, Africa Region, said this in a keynote address at the 2023 edition of the International Women’s Day Award Gala, on Saturday night, in Lagos.
The gala was convened by the diplomatic missions and delegations of Australia, Congo, the European Union, France, Germany, the UK, U.S., UN Women and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Nigeria.
Ezekwesili said that for many decades, the issue of women in participation, representation and leadership did not gain political or policy salience until women raised their voices.
She said that nobody around the world in leadership would deny hearing women saying that gender inclusion is important for national development.
According to her, gender inclusion has gained currency as an issue that is salient for the development of society.
“But gaining political and policy salience is one thing while being able to persuade people who have heard you put an agenda on the table as being a priority issue to act on is another.
“One of the things we do know is that for you to get action, in a world where there are so many competing priorities, you have to produce evidence.”
She said that policy evidence was necessary to foster the conversation on gender parity, and gender equality, stressing that ensuring gender inclusion “does in fact, advance the cause of society.”
Ezekwesili further said that the matter of getting women to participate in development and exercise leadership within society was not for comedy.
“There’s nothing comical about using the power of women and optimising all the potentials of society in terms of its human population.
“The idea that women can participate fully in society is an idea that requires behavior modification,” she said.
According to her, gender equality and inclusion is not a free gift to women but about the society caring for its own advancement.
She noted that the diplomatic arena was always one of those that women found difficult to penetrate and lauded the power of collaboration projected by the diplomatic missions that jointly organised the IWD awards.
“It is the power of collaboration that will advance us from evidence to action.”
She added that by celebrating women, one of the evidences that would move to action was the idea of role modelling.
This, she said, is a point of advancement of the cause of women in our society.
Ezekwesili said that societies that identified the key barriers to women, representation, women participation and women leadership did better, adding that growth was about removing the barriers that stood in the way of improvement.
“In removing these barriers, which can be social ,cultural, economical, financial or systemic, one thing stands out. It is that women must gain political currency.
“If women don’t gain political currency, they cannot inform the debate on all the other issues,” she said.