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UN International Women's Day

International Women’s Day Observed in Nigeria

Abuja, Nigeria—Women’s role in bringing peace to Nigeria was the focus of the UPF commemoration of the U.N. International Women’s Day 2017.

“The Role of Women in Promoting Interreligious Cooperation, Interethnic Integration and Eradication of Corruption” for peace in Nigeria was the theme of the event held on March 8. The Special Conference of Women Educators, Leaders and Organizations (COWELO) was convened by UPF-Nigeria at the National Merit Award House in the Maitama district of the capital, Abuja.

The conference brought together more than 100 participants from across the country. Among the participants were women educators and leaders, government representatives, policymakers, Ambassadors for Peace, wives of political leaders, wives of distinguished Ambassadors for Peace and other critical stakeholders from NGOs as well as from women-focused and faith-based institutions.

Along with the main discussion topics, participants mentioned “Be Bold for Change,” the motto of the 2017 U.N. International Women’s Day. The event featured the appointment of outstanding women leaders as Ambassadors for Peace and the special recognition of women’s organizations that are active in peacebuilding in Nigeria.

Among the newly appointed Ambassadors for Peace were Hon. Regina Anyogo Leonard, a parliamentarian and member of the Cross River State House of Assembly, as well as Hajiya Hajiya Gwamma Ja’afaru, the national president of the Prison Officers Wives Association.

Others who received their Ambassador for Peace certificates at the event were:

  1. Hajiya Zainab Audu Bako
  2. Mrs. Rose Ekweremadu
  3. Nnachi Josephine Nneoma
  4. Mohammed Musa Usman
  5. Dr. Aisha Ahmed
  6. Deaconess Josephine Chidinma Anyanwu
  7. Mrs. Elizabeth Udoh Nkamare
  8. Mrs. Bosede Folake Adeyemi
  9. Chief Henry Bond

The conference opening invocation was led by Hajiya Hajja Yagana, who prayed for the success of the day and the issues to be discussed as well as the good health of UPF Co-Founder Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon for her outstanding leadership of the movement for peace.

Participants sang the National Anthem of Nigeria together and listened to the welcoming address by Dr. George C. Ikpot, the director of international affairs for UPF-Nigeria. Selected Ambassadors for Peace read aloud messages for International Women’s Day from the UN secretary-general, the UNESCO director general and the UN Women executive director.

Goodwill messages were offered by the president of the National Council of Women’s Societies, the national president of the Prison Officers Wives Association, the National Directorate of Employment, Mrs. Caroline Okafor of the Ministry of Education, Ambassador Chief Victoria Ogun, and the wife of the UPF coordinator for Akwa Ibom State, Mrs. Rosemary Udo Wills.

The event was chaired by Her Excellency, Dr. Mrs. Aisha Emeje Audu, the former first lady of Kogi State. The keynote address by UPF-Nigeria Secretary General Dr. Raphael Ogar Oko focused on the challenges facing Nigeria in the areas of interreligious relations, interethnic cooperation and the misuse of public resources. Dr. Oko emphasized the role that women can play in addressing these issues, with reference to the exemplary leadership of the co-founder of UPF, Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon, who has taken bold steps to keep the vision of her late husband alive.

After exhaustive deliberations, the participants resolved to call on all women to actively address the challenges facing the nation of Nigeria and help to bridge the various divides created throughout the history of the nation. Commending the UPF founders for their lifelong commitment to the realization of world peace, the participants pledged on behalf of Nigerian women to work toward a peaceful Nigeria. The commemoration also featured the distribution of the 2017 Ambassadors for Peace almanac to some of the participants.

Other organizations that sent congratulatory statements to UPF included the Planned Parenthood Federation of Nigeria, Mercy Chido Amajuoyi, the executive director of the Family for Peace and Development Initiative, and Okeke Ngozi, the program initiator of the Women Initiative for Peace & Good Governance (WIPGG Nigeria).

Ambassador Mrs. Helen Ekefre, the former commissioner in Akwa Ibom State, was unanimously voted as “Most Outstanding Woman Ambassador for Peace in Nigeria” for her supportive role in establishing UPF in Akwa Ibom State and mobilization of women in the state for peace and sustainable development. Responding to the recognition, she promised to host the UN International Day of Families celebration in Uyo, the state capital, on May 15, 2017, and to mobilize parliamentarians in the state to attend the formal launch in Nigeria of the International Association of Parliamentarians for Peace.

Photos available here.

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