Towards its mandate to empower and promote the cause of women and the girl child in Nigeria, a non-governmental organisation, Jashabel Touch-A-Heart (JTAH) Foundation held its Annual National Women and Girl Child Stakeholder Conference to advance the discourse.
Held at the Academy Guest House and Events, Ogba, Lagos, with the theme: ‘Westernisation, Education, Culture and Religion: The Effect on Today’s Family’, the event also marked the 50th birthday celebration of JTAH founder, Mrs. Favour Benson.
Speaking at the event, which attracted stakeholders from various corporate organisations, government parastatals and traditional rulers, the convener said the theme is a call-to-action and a cultural reawakening for families to understand and solve the contemporary issues women and girls suffer.
According to Benson, “Culture didn’t erode our value system. I think it’s the parents. Some children between the ages of 10 and 14 years can’t speak their language; they don’t know their village. This presents a disconnect and that’s where culture comes in.
“These days, you can’t question a child without the mother or father coming the next day to say, ‘who made you my child’s teacher?’ It is sickening because that was not how we were brought up. There is a lack of discipline stemming from abandoning our culture. We have to connect our culture with whatever we are doing to make us who we really are.”
Benson added, “this is a concern for us at the Child Protection Network in Lagos. We are based in Alimosho where we have the highest crime rate, we go to hospitals, market places, and hold town hall meetings to address issues of the girl child and children neglect. It has become a burden to us that we must tackle.”
In a keynote address delivered by the Commissioner of Tourism, Arts and Culture, Uzamat Akinbile-Yussuf, she revealed strategic models that could be adopted toward empowering women and the girl child. Some of the highlights from her keynote include the adoption of community parenting styles, seeking mental health support and sex education, promoting cultural norms, and supervising the use of social media tools.
“The way our parents trained us, what most would call the ‘crude’ method, is not the way we are training our children. We let our culture be harmed, and everything has become westernized.
There is a difference between discipline and abuse. The only thing we owe our children is love, let us discipline them.”
Established in 2000, the foundation, which prides itself as a haven for women and girls in need, awarded inspiring women in various sectors. It also launched Touch magazine that features some of its past projects and plans to kick start future ones, geared toward female empowerment in various capacities.