As part of standing with women, SAID is convening women who have been infected with HIV by their husbands, often in an abusive marriage. This is taking place today in our Community Information Center in Achingali Ikenanzizi, Obowo. This International Women's Day, stand with girls everywhere. We are joining the International Community to ask YOU: “Be Bold For Change”, the IWD campaign theme for the year 2017

In many parts of the world, for example in most African countries and communities, women and girls are excluded from political, economic and social life of the communities in which they are born or married into. In Nigeria, as in most other sub-Saharan Africa, women are excluded from the decision-making bodies of their communities. In Igbo land and as in many other ethnic groups in Nigeria, women have no place in the traditional ruler’s council. In many communities, youth groups wield enormous power and girls are excluded and these boys’ youth groups are sometimes used by the traditional rulers and community heads to terrorize women and girls. Youth groups They have no voice in the issues that affect them They are simple to be seen, not heard.

There are many factors that are responsible for this situation. Most African countries are patrilineal. When a young woman reaches marriageable age, she is married into a family of the man. She leaves her own family and community and moves in with her husband in the husband’s own father’s community. Often, she drops her own father’s name and takes the husband’s surname. Having moved out of the father’s home, traditionally, she has no inheritance rights in her own father’s house. The man she is married to becomes effectively her LORD and Master in many cases whose words she is expected to obey always. In many cases, the resources of the woman, are placed in the man’s name. It could be land, properties and other assets. Many men insist on this practice and threaten their wives with divorce if they should object to their demands.

In the husband home, many women are subjected to abuse, ill-treatment, and all kinds of in-human treatment, including violence both physically and emotionally. Many are left at the mercy of their husbands and their families. Women are coerced or beaten to obedience by their husbands.

The International Women’s Day started with the aim to shining light on the challenges faced by women in our Men dominated world. It is a call to all to work for a better world through a more gender- inclusive world. It is a call to dismantle harmful cultural practices that are treating women as if they were sub-humans. We sometimes hear people in Nigeria say, it is a woman’s talk, such expressions and comments highlight the denigration and the low status many Nigerians accord to women. This days invites us to be committed to help women and girls achieve their ambitions; challenge conscious and unconscious bias; call for gender-balanced leadership; value women and men's contributions equally; and create inclusive flexible cultures.

The World Economic Forum predicts the gender gap won't close entirely until 2186. This is too long to wait. Around the world, IWD can be an important catalyst and vehicle for driving greater change for women and moving closer to gender parity. This is why you involvement is crucial to helping create a better world for both women and men.

We cannot achieve women’s rights, gender equality or the Global Goals for Sustainable Development without acting for gender inclusive world, in which violence against women in the home and society are fought and defeated. Today, on the International Women’s Day, we demand justice for women who are going through gender based violence especially in their families and communities.

Please join us in standing for a more gender -inclusive world. An empowered woman will be aware of her rights possess the tools to fight and demand for her rights.

SpringAid International Development (SAID) Nigeria together with our country affliates in Europe and America join the International Community in commemorating this Day by convening women who have been infected with HIV by their husbands. We are supporting these women through awareness, mobilizing and small business establishing support to enable them enjoy some economic independence which is vital for exercising and defending their rights in their families and communities.

Teddy Ihens

SAID, Nigeria