IWD: Okafor, Veteran Actress Decries Early Marriage, Motherhood
Ms Kate- Oby Okafor, National Vice President, Actors Guild of Nigeria (AGN), Southeast Zone has condemned the increasing number of girls forced into early marriages and motherhood with its attendant consequences.
Okafor said this during an interaction with journalists in Awka on Tuesday on the occasion of 2022 International Women’s Day celebration which has its theme ” Gender Equality Today for a Sustainable Tomorrow”.
The veteran actress said child marriage eroded the the dignity of the woman by denying her the opportunity to harness and optimise her potentials as a person and forcing her to live the lives of husband and children without preparing for it.
Okafor who is also a women activist identified poverty and customs as major factors and called on the government to make education free and compulsory for women up to secondary school level.
“The society should discourage child marriages, the girl child should not be pushed out of her parents house into marriages with men that are old enough to be their grandfather.
“This practice encourages all forms of abuse including sexual violence, physical violence, forced motherhood, and child labour in their so called marriages.
“Parents must give their daughters basic education and skills, the government should make education free and compulsory for girls up to secondary school level; a poor economy should not be an excuse.
“Those cultural practices that encourage child marriage should be criminalised, girls should marry with their own consent and not before 18 years, ” she said.
Okafor who was also the chairman of Advanced Congress of Democrats (now deregistered) said the rights of women should not be given as a token but must be enforced.
She described the rejection of gender related bills by the National Assembly as a set back for better society and urged the women folks not to relent in the bid to get their rightful place in a civilised democracy.
According to her, equality is our right, it should not be given to us as a token, empowering women means empowering the society.
“Women have done it in the past, go to NAFDAC, Bureau of Public Procure or Due Process Office, Nigeria Stock Exchange and other places, our footprints are there, so it is in the interest of the society to give us space,” she said.
She said Nollywood would continue to influence positive change among women through their works while urging actresses to carry themselves with dignity.
Lolo as she is fondly known in the industry, said the Southeast zone of Nollywood was organising a symposium and sensitisation session for its members and the society general in May this year.