All over the world, March 8 every year is a special day when women take Centre stage, with the celebration of their achievements, while highlighting challenges faced by women everywhere. It is a day with many balls about women issues on the spinning wheel, appreciating the extraordinary roles played by women in every walk of life, their acts of courage and determination as the world celebrates them.
Despite all these however, the goal of achieving gender parity still remains a contentious global issue with marginalisation and exclusion of women and girls as well as the many shades of women abuse very much with us, making the day also a call to action in making people aware of women’s rights, safety and the urgent need to find consensus in fighting against the many forms of abuse and harassment.
For the Fateemah Aduke Mohammed Ogunkola (FAMO) Foundation, the occasion of the International Women’s Day was used to host the 2021 international Women’s Conference at the K & M Events Center in new Oko-Oba, Ifako-Ijaiye in Lagos, where women who beat the odds against them to achieve success were celebrated, and women excelling in supposedly male professions were recognised and awarded. Among these were a female carpenter, a female barber, a female vulcanizer and a female disc jockey, all of whom have provided opportunities for other women to be mentally and financially liberated.
The highpoint of the day was the empowerment of over 300 women through a raffle draw where many carted home different electrical and cooking appliances including deep freezers, refrigerators, dinner sets, grinding machines, hair-dressing appliances etc., while different clothing materials were also distributed to every woman present.
Several of the women who had achieved extraordinary feats spoke, encouraging women everywhere to refuse to be limited and begin to move in the direction of fulfilling their full potentials.
Speaking about the essence of the day, the challenges faced by women and success in that direction so far, founder of FAMO Foundation, Fateemah Aduke Mohammed Ogunkola averred;
“I think it has shifted from what it used to be. We had a low level of women inclusion at whatever terrain but right now it is getting better. The theme for this year is a major push. More and more women are becoming more assertive. A lot of women are beginning to recognise their place in the scheme of things, so it’s better than it ever used to be.”
Reacting to the UN report that over 2.7bn women are legally restricted from choice jobs readily available to men, Mohammed disclosed;
“Today we are celebrating women who are excelling in supposedly male professions. I’d like us to change our perspectives and mindset as women. There’s no job that is a man’s job. Every job that can put food on the table and meet one’s needs should just get done. I love women who can dare where men are threatened. It is not competition or equality. I don’t believe in equality, I believe in equity. Equity is fair and just. The truth is the jobs are not even there for the men. So it’s time for us to have a rethink and start being self-employed and self sufficient.”
Considering the fact that some of the legal restrictions on women border on religion, Mohammed explained thus;
“It must come to a point where we break barriers whether, religious, traditional or gender; everything that inhibits us. I come from the North where women are not being seen or even heard. But things are changing with the times. There’s an evolvement and it’s getting better.”
In what could be done to make women more inclusive in governance and decision making processes, Mohammed said that was what they were doing at the moment.
“We’re creating awareness which is key, reaching out to people in their own languages. They are becoming more concious of themselves. So we’ll continue to create this awareness and get women more involved in every sphere of endeavor.”
A woman with a passion to cushion to effects of poverty, Mohammed gives out palliatives to the poor and needy often-times yearly both as a person and also with her foundation, which comes at a great financial cost to her, for which she admits she has no choice.
A strong politician, unrelenting in her pursuit of using the commonwealth for the common good, Fateemah Aduke Mohammed Ogunkola was very clear about this which is why she is a politician in the first place.
“For different people, politics means different things. For some it is to appropriate the common wealth for themselves. For me, politics is about touching lives, it is about changing the status quo. Basically that is my motive.”
The FAMO (an acronym of her name- Fateemah Aduke Mohammed Ogunkola) Foundation has been touching lives every year with outreach programmes, humanitarian services, free health checks, mitigating the plight of the less privileged in society while empowering people, children, widows and women.
According to Mohammed, “I believe every woman should be able to afford at least one dollar per day. I love to tell women they can assert themselves, lend themselves a voice and don’t wait to be pushed. The theme for this year is apt and I’m challenging the status quo, I am challenging everything that limits me as a woman.”
Fateemah Aduke Mohammed Ogunkola had a strong parting shot for women as the day gradually came to an end.
“Women get involved. Change the status quo. We can be president. I say it all the time that I will become the first female Vice President of this country by the grace of God.”