With over 300 participants ranging from one month old baby to 86 years old lady; and comprising of sixteen secondary schools, twenty-three Non-governmental Organisations, nine media houses and four UN Agencies, the United Nations Information Centre (UNIC), Lagos, in collaboration with Women Optimum Development Foundation (WODEF) celebrated the International Women’s Day with pageantry.
The 2014 IWD event which recorded an unprecedented inspiring presentations on the eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by eight schools, held the audience spell-bound as the schools offered different creatively refreshing approaches to the MDGs.
Every school was unique in their presentations: from dramatic performance to poetic presentation and screening of a TV documentary on Goal 4 produced and narrated by the students of Vivian Fowler, Lagos.
In addition, another eight schools conducted an environment scan to fish out people in the society who are impacting lives concerning the eight MDGs. From their submission, the ‘Rare Gems’ were selected for recognition.
Exhibiting a grasp of the MDGs and the theme of this year’s IWD, the students communicated their messages with creative flair and elicited an intermittent thunderous applause from the audience.
The IWD event started on a lively note when the message of the Secretary General was jointly read by Raul Kotikella of British International School and Chisom Frederick of New Era Secondary School, Lagos.
Welcoming the audience, the National Coordinator of Women Optimum Development Foundation (WODEF), Mrs Bimbo Oloyede, thanked UNIC Lagos for keeping faith in WODEF as both organisations have been collaborating for the past fourteen years and would continue to promote equality for women and the girl child. She urged the audience to spare a thought for women around the world who are challenged with fear, poverty and hunger; and whose children probably had an uncertain future.
In her remark, the Senior Public Information Officer, Envera Selimovic, urged the students to uphold gender equality and respect women and girl-child explaining that equality for women is progress for all. She added that the future of a society depended on its attitude to issues that pertain to women and the girl-child. The issues, Selimovic said further, included rights of women, girl-child education, and women’s health, among others.
Speaking at the event, the Head of Office, World Health Organisation (WHO) Lagos, Dr Mejebi Phillips urged the audience to help a child to live to adulthood by spreading the words about immunisation. She noted that vaccines save lives, save money and build nations.
Enlightening the audience about the danger of drugs, the Head of Office, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Lagos, Mr Glenn Prichard, urged the students and other participants to avoid drugs and crime like a plague in order not to jeopardise their future.
Speaking on the reality of HIV/AIDS, the State Programme Manager, UN Joint Programme on HIV/AIDS, UNAIDS Office, Lagos, Dr Olubunmi Asa, called on youths to stop indulging in unprotected sex as this could lead to Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) as well as HIV infections.
She urged all participants to voluntarily go for counselling and testing for HIV infections; adding that early detection saves lives.
UNFPA was represented at the event by its Head of Office in Lagos, Dr Omolaso Omosehin.