International Women’s Day, 8th of March 2023, Theme: “DigitALL: Innovation and technology for gender equality”
Since the formation of societies, communities and the familial structure, women have played key roles in homes, families and the society at large. Yet immense and endemic challenges are still faced by women including poor recognition of their efforts and many forms of violence and suffering meted upon them by society. To address this systemic adversity, various women's groups centred on equality and civil rights were formed in Europe and North America in the late-nineteenth and early twentieth century. However, International Women's Day (IWD) only became a mainstream global holiday following its adoption by the United Nations in 1977. Since then, the 8th of March was adopted as the global day to celebrate women across the world and to champion the immense strides women have made in the areas of the social, economic, cultural, and political fields. It also serves as a call to action for gender equality and women's rights across the globe.
The theme for this year's International Women’s Day, 8 March 2023 is, “DigitALL: Innovation and technology for gender equality”. The 2023 International Women's Day in Nigeria is an opportunity to celebrate the achievements of women, raise awareness on gender equality, and promote women's empowerment through innovation and technology. This is enacted by providing opportunities for women to showcase their skills, network with other women, and access healthcare and education that will empower them for a greater future that gives them a voice in their various communities and across Nigeria. This event will be celebrated in selected schools and healthcare facilities in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, Kwara, Lagos States, Osun, Cross Rivers, Sokoto and Kano where the Wellbeing Foundation is currently implementing various programs that empower women and promote gender equality.
The Role of The Wellbeing Foundation Africa in Promoting Gender Equality through Innovation and Technology
The Wellbeing Foundation Africa (WBFA) has been at the forefront of promoting gender equality and the well-being of the most vulnerable women across various states in Nigeria. Since its establishment by the Founder and President Her Excellency Toyin Ojora Saraki in 2004, the Foundation has been active in implementing various programs that mainstream gender in addition to specific gender-based projects that empower women and the right of the girl child. These include:
Establishment of Mamacare 360 WhatsApp Groups: The Foundation has been active in building knowledge and capacity of women of reproductive age (15 – 49years) on various subjects including health, water, sanitation and hygiene as well as women empowerment on various skills that will give them a means of livelihood and empower them to take care of themselves, support households and have a voice in their respective communities. As of March 2023, the Foundation was able to have a Mamacare WhatsApp platform with a total of 5,066 active participants and 21 groups across seven states in Nigeria. These WhatsApp groups which operates on almost a 24-hour basis give women of reproductive age the opportunity to freely ask questions related to their health and other issues with dedicated experts (WBFA Nurses, Midwives and Doctors) who swiftly address their queries. The groups also give platforms to educate women on the need for them to be empowered and therefore have a voice in their homes, community and society at large.
Building a Future Generation of Women with Resilience through Personal, Social and Health Education (PSHE): The Wellbeing Foundation Africa regularly conducts sensitization activity in selected schools across Nigeria in partnership with the Universal Basic Education Board (UBEB). Through the Foundation’s Teens Tuesdays, regular education and campaigns that address the needs of adolescent girls are carried out. During this period, the WBFA frontline workers counsel these vulnerable groups on gender equality, healthy eating and exercise as effective means to stay healthy as well as gender equality and prevention of gender-based violence across various schools in Kwara, Lagos, Cross River, Osun States and the FCT. Through these frontline interventions, our Teen Counsellors have reached over 10,000 teenagers and have successfully established student clubs within schools to ensure the transfer of knowledge and sustainability of training and education they receive from WBFA experts.
Advocacy: One of the core tenets through which The Wellbeing Foundation Africa ensures gender equality through innovations and technology is via the writing of an advocacy piece, and sharing this information through various social media handles and government agencies. Her Excellency Toyin Saraki is a national and global advocate for the girl child and women's empowerment and with the experts in the Foundation, have scaled up various gender equality programs that address the challenges faced by most vulnerable women in Nigeria and Africa. The Foundation has transformed the education of the girl child in Nigeria and promoted investments into education in Kwara State, Lagos, Abuja and other states in Nigeria. Furthermore, the Foundation since its inception implements health, water, sanitation and hygiene, nutrition, food security and livelihood programs that mainstream gender. During these programs, the capacity of women is built and they thereafter contribute greatly in building the capacity of other women across Nigeria and therefore promoting gender equality in the society.
Writing of Educational Books and Articles: Wellbeing Foundation Africa has written several books and articles that promote gender equality, and health education for children, adolescents, adults and the elderly in Nigeria and across Africa. These books which are evidenced based and consist of the Mamacare 360 handbook for health educating mothers during pregnancy to empower them with the knowledge needed for an improved pregnancy outcome. Another key educational material that targets adolescents is the PSHE handbook which addresses the various challenges the adolescent girls and female gender generally face and how to overcome them.
The Foundation has invested its resources, time and capacity to build a stronger programmatic, operational and advocacy framework that ensures gender equality through innovation and technology. As we celebrate this year's Women's International Day, we continue to support and embolden individuals, government and healthcare sector to deploy all innovative approaches and technology needed to give women a voice in Nigeria and across the globe. This includes women's participation and inclusion in elective positions, the growth of female leadership in the health and private sector and stronger representation on decision-making tables across the nation, Africa and the globe
We will like to state that "When you empower a woman, you empower a nation" hence the urgent need to address gender inequality and equity which has thus far limited the contribution of women in society and strengthened their impact through innovation and technology.