By Luminous Jannamike, Abuja
The African First Ladies Peace Mission, AFLPM, on Monday, said the COVID-19 pandemic is a threat to efforts at improving women’s rights and leadership in the continent.
The organisation stated that while various governments implemented measures to curb the pandemic, there was a spike in the reported cases of domestic violence and conflict-related violence against women and girls.
So, the African First Ladies called on political leaders across the continent to prioritise the empowerment of women and girls to ensure their participation in all decision-making levels.
The Special Assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on the African First Ladies Peace Mission, Dr Mairo Al-Makura made the submissions in a statement issued to journalists in Abuja to commemorate the 2021 International Women’s Day (IWD).
She said, “Today on International Women’s Day, we celebrate the many achievements of women and girls in Africa and across the globe.
“Although we have seen tremendous progress on women’s rights and leadership over the last few years, the COVID-19 pandemic is threatening to reverse the gains that have been made.
“The pandemic has disproportionately impacted women in many areas, particularly gender-based violence. While the world implemented lockdown measures introduced to curb the pandemic, there has been a spike in reported domestic violence and conflict-related violence against women and girls.
“To ensure that the COVID-19 response and recovery acknowledge their realities, women need to have a seat at the decision-making table.
“Therefore, the African First Ladies Peace Mission celebrates African women who continuously play a crucial role in furthering peace on the continent.
“We must not lose sight that gender equality and women’s rights are fundamental to the continent’s progress on peace, security and human rights. We recommit ourselves to advocate for the right to peace and protection for all women and girls across Africa.”
The immediate past First Lady of Nasarawa State also stressed that Africa’s development cannot be achieved without the women’s efforts and contributions.
“We are inspired by the effective leadership that women have demonstrated during the current pandemic.
“Women have brilliantly stepped-up to this challenging period with strength and courage while adjusting to rapidly unfolding circumstances. In doing so, they have reminded the world of the importance of women’s presence in leadership positions.
“So, on this International Women’s Day, let’s empower and encourage African women and girls to ensure their participation in all decision-making levels,” Dr Al-Makura added.