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Representatives of SSA-NIPOST at the International Women's Day celebration in Lagos.

24-03-2010 There is no gain saying that most world communities in the recent times have recognized the priority that should be accorded to women's emancipation. This development could be closely linked to the appreciation of notable women's contributions to both national and communal development as well as the need for revaluation of various myths, social customs, tradition and religious doctrines perceived to have subordinated the position of women. It could also be perceived as an offshoot of the International articulation of the need to accord women's interest special attention at the United nations Internartional Women's year conference in Mexico City in 1975, an effort that gave birth to the popular Beijing conference amongst others.

To specially address women issues at work, exactly fifty two years ago, the International Labour conference came up with what is still regarded as the most comprehensive and potent instrument on non discrimination and the quality at work i.e. the ILO discrimination (employment and occupation convention 1958 No. 111). This was closely followed by the ILO declaration on fundamental principles and rights at work, 1988 and the ILO declaration on the social for a fair globalization 2008. It is noteworthy that Nigeria has rectified the instrument.

Presently, Nigerian women who by their exemplary activities are making the difference and impacting on the people, the community and the country in their various professions and capacities, among others include Prof. Dora Akunyili, Mrs. Fatimo Abdulkarim, Mrs. Waziri Farida, Mrs. Oby Ezekwesili, Mrs. Ngozi Okonjo Iweala, Mrs. Abike Dabiri Eradiri, Dr Ndi Okereke-Onyuike, Senator Florence Ita-Giwa etc. At this 16th annual women's day celebration, the host of the event (TUC Women Commission) celebrated the contributions women make in every aspect of life endeavors, in the home, on the job, in their communities as mothers, wives, learners, teachers, workers, citizens and leaders. Accordingly, sixteen (16) deserving women have been selected for awards to acknowledge their landmark contributions and achievement in women empowerment and development in recent years in Nigeria.

However, you need remind us, ladies and gentlemen, that women involvement in the leadership of workers groups is yet to be impressive. Prior to 1999 when Comrade Rita Goyt was nominated as a member of the caretaker committee, there was no visible women involvement at the activities of Nigeria Labour Congress at the National level.

The situation with Trade Union Congress (TUC) is more pleasing. Our one and only Labour-woman - Comrade Peace Obiajulu was the first President General. By election she became the first African Woman to lead a labour centre. Undoubtedly, she gave TUC a historic and quality leadership and laid a formidable foundation that has seen the union grow from strength to strength in recent years. We deserve more women's presence in leadership position of union in trade union.

In conclusion, it is agreed that we have come a long way, but it seems unions are still not women-friendly and the inclusion of gender perspectives in all trade union policies and programme, are far from being achieved.

Comrades, I strongly believe that the time to start unlocking the potentials of women for nation building has come. That time is now!

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