UN Secretary General calls for change in legal and social norms that discriminate against women

UNIC Lagos National Information Officer, Oluseyi Soremekun addresses the audience

UNIC Lagos National Information Officer, Oluseyi Soremekun addresses the audience

The United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, has called for a change in legal and social norms that support male control over women, reinforce discrimination and prevent the elimination of violence against vulnerable family members. ‘As we shape a new sustainable development agenda and strive for a world of dignity for all, let us stand united for women’s and children’s rights in families and societies at large,’ he continued.

The UN Secretary General made this call in his message on the observance of the 2015 International year of families organised by the United Nations Information Centre (UNIC) Lagos, in collaboration with the Women’s Board Educational Cooperation Society and held at the Library Auditorium of UNIC, Lagos.

Speaking further, Ki-moon noted that the theme of this year’s International Day of Families “Men in Charge?” highlighted the importance of gender equality and children’s rights in contemporary families.

Cross-section of participants

Cross-section of participants

He added that more women were becoming recognized as the equal partners and decision-makers in families that they should be, thus helping to ensure a conducive environment for the full and harmonious development of children.

In his overview of the theme, “Men in Charge? Gender Equality and Children’s Rights in Contemporary families”, the National Information Officer, Oluseyi Soremekun, noted that 2015 International Day of Families, celebrated every 15th May, highlighted prevention of family violence through fair family law frameworks and promoted gender equality and rights of children within families.

He called for an end to those cultural practices which reinforce inequality and injustice against women. These, according to him, included ‘all forms of gender inequality within families especially those related to inheritance, education, dowry, marriage and sexuality as well as those family laws that place women in a subordinate position to men in families.’

Soremekun added that gender inequality within families might also be perpetuated for economic reasons and due to social norms such as the desire for sons, or dowry-related financial reasons.

The occasion was spiced up by a Poetry Presentation titled, ‘My idea of an ideal family’ by the students of Fountain Heights Schools, Lagos and a Drama Presentation titled, ‘My Ideal Family’ by the students of Lagoon Secondary School, Lagos. Students of New Era Girls School, Lagos were also in attendance.

In her closing remarks, the Programme Director of Women’s Board, Mrs Edna Dafe, urged everyone to support activities geared towards strengthening family values, which she said, would help in raising children who uphold values.

Other speakers included Dr (Mrs) Grace Evbuomwan who spoke on ‘Supporting Families: A path to National Development’ and Mr Michael Ijeh who made a presentation on ‘The unique contribution of fathers to adolescent development’.