NSCC HOLDS A FOCUS GROUP DIALOGUE WITH OLDER WOMEN ..,.. “We recognise the need for understanding of older women’s specific circumstances and peculiar need”- Dr Omokaro

Oru Leonard

International Women’s Day is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity.

In commemoration of the International Women’s Day 2022, the National Senior Citizens Centre held a Maiden Focus Group Discussion with older women on accelerating inclusion through NSCC’s Grand Mothers Arise 4 Good initiative.

About sixty (60) older women who came with their leaders, shared their life experiences; the impact of gender roles and unfair social norms and, other systemic drivers of discrimination and marginalization.

Also, older women’s industrial capacity, resilience, their networks and their contributions to different aspects of life, which necessitate special innovative and sustainable interventions to accelerate their inclusion in livelihood programs and social protection measures were discussed.

The dialogue themed; “Equity Diversity and Inclusion”, clearly draws attention to older persons as a heterogeneous and diverse population category, within the general population and to, older women, as a sub group of the older population, as well as, to older women, as a sub group of the general population of women.

While delivering her address, the Director General of the National Senior Citizen Center in Nigeria (NSCC), also stated “We are very excited to have the spotlight on older women for their enhanced visibility and to sensitize and mobilize policy makers, planners and implementers of development programs towards acceleratec inclusion of on older women in all development programs. We deliberately will enhance public and policy makers understanding of the trajectory of accumulated disadvantages and multi-dimensional coverty in old age, where along the life course from girl-child to later —lfe, the high stakes fo early, and life cycle interventions were not holistically comprehended.

She further noted that the Grand Mothers Arise 4 Good initiative is an integrated capacity enhancement, livelihood and work scheme development initiative, targeting older women as assets within communities.

According to her, the objectives among others were to elicit discussions on engaging capacities of older women for community interventions as work schemes to access cash or social assistance, bringing together all relevant stakeholders in the Grand Mothers Arise  4 Good initiative to discuss the prospects and problems facing Older Women to highlight socio economic and investment potentials inherent in older women in Nigeria and to proffer solutions and way forward for the growth and development of older women in Nigeria.

Speaking, The Executive Secretary, National Human Rights Commission, Barrister Tony Ojukwu who noted that program is timely just as he called for development of relevant measures to engage older women and protect them from abuse and violence.

An open dialogue moderated by Dr. Ogugua Osi- Ogbu, Consultant Geriatrician, Head Geriatric Unit at the National Hospital, Abuja and Mr. Emmanuel Udontre, Head, Health and Social Care Dept. NSCC which witnessed an extensive deliberations on the state of affairs of older women in Nigeria elicited following the observations:  Systemic marginalization of women and much more in older women exist due to ageism, delayed and cumbersome process in payment of pension and gratuity for retired older women, Excistence of a huge disconnect/g gap between younger women and older women.

The dialogue observed that the validation and resuscitation of skills of older women is critical to national development, lack of government support and intervention on skills enhancement for older women and
brain drain of professional older women to other parts and countries of the world.

At the end of the dialogue there were recommendations as follows:

– Capacity building in skills acquisition programs for older women and financing their existing skills

– Both the Government and the organized private sector should invest maximally in the skills of older women because of its huge economic potentials and contributions to Gross Domestic Products (GDP)
– Utilizing the acquired potentials in retired older women
– In order to avoid older women dependency, there is need for emphasis on vocational skill acquisition in our educational system
– Older women who are retired yet active should be actively and gainfully engaged by both government and private sector.

– Campaignsa the state and local government areas should be organized to address the issues of intergenerational gap, elder abuse, the need to treat older persons with dignity and respect as well as inclusivity of all gender in social – economic programs and national development

– The Grand Mother Arise 4 Good Initiative should be extended to the States and Local Government Areas.

Stakeholders and participants were unanimous in commending National Senior Citizens Centre (NSCC), for organizing this important maiden dialogue on “Grandmothers Arise 4 Good Initiative”. However, they urged the Centre and other relevant government agencies to ensure that the recommendations made here are implemented.

Highlight of the event was exhibition of crafts by some older women group in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.

Government establishments that attended include the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Federal Ministry of Women Affairs, National Human Rights Commission, Nationa National Identity Card Management, Orientation Agency, Legal Aids Council and National Directorate of Employment.

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