Choose to Challenge: Changing Perceptions, Clarifying Myths

Today, all over the world, we celebrate the amazing role women play in making our world a better place. Today, we recognize the roles of women, irrespective of their age, colour, status, tribe or even religious affiliations; today, we honor those who see beyond the complexion, thus choosing to challenge the status quo.
 
Despite the gospel of the Sustainable Development Goals, the emphasis on Balance, women still bear the brunt of social ills in our society. This year, the focus of the celebration is on the hashtag #ChooseToChallenge.
 
In a world where the female gender is still being treated unequally, where child and maternal mortality is high, where hunger exists, where gender bias is rife, it is imperative that women #ChooseToChallenge whatever limitations society has placed before them in order for them to succeed.
 
A world that is challenged, is one that is alert and sensitive to the yearnings of its citizens. From every challenge comes change, positive change with far reaching benefits.
 
This year's theme "Women in leadership: Achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 world," invites us to a deeper reflection on our social relations as humans. It calls us to eschew social bias, discrimination and violence against women. It is important to note that the International Women's Day celebration which is about a century old, started not as a feminist cause, but as a Labour movement, its goal - to seek equality in terms of working conditions.
 
At Onome Akinlolu Majaro Foundation, we believe that we all are first humans before any other societal stratifications, hence, we must collectively choose to fight social constructs, challenge bias, change perceptions, clarify myths and enhance solutions so we can celebrate the achievement of women, especially women with albinism. This is further seen in our Beyond the Complexion campaign which seeks to correct certain myths about Persons with Albinism.
 
Women with Albinism suffer abuse, discrimination and in extreme cases, an outright denial of thier fundamental human rights, most especially the right to education, equal employment opportunities and freedom of association and very particularly, the right to life as is seen in some African countries.
 
Since 2015, OAM Foundation has been at the forefront of Albinism advocacy in Nigeria, leading social campaigns in the promotion and enjoyment of rights of persons with albinism. Our Executive Director, Onome Okagabare Majaro, herself a Woman with Albinism is a leading champion in the campaign for generational equality and the realization of women’s rights, especially also, women with albinism. Our efforts as an Albinism Awareness advocacy group has yielded tremendous efforts as we have been able to galvanize more women with albinism to arise and shine, be proud of their colour and see beyond the complexion.
 
As a leader, Onome continues to #ChooseToChallenge their status quo. She encourages women with albinism to live meaningful and purposeful live, developing themselves by acquiring education and soft skills and also contributing to the economic development of their communities.
 
For the average woman with Albinism, the choice to challenge is a daunting one because she must start from two fronts, first as as a woman, then as a woman with Albinism.. Hence, it is imperative that women with Albinism must be encouraged to constantly #ChooseToChallenge their limitations so they can stand the chance to become leaders.
 
We believe that women can thrive if they enjoy the same platforms as men. We believe that women’s rights can be enjoyed by women and that the task of building our world, especially in working together to achieve the decade of action for the success of the Sustainable Development Goals.
 
Despite these seeming sad stories, we have an a plethora of women with Albinism who are Still Standing Beyond All Odds (this will be the focus of the International Albinism Awareness Day Celebration in June this year), when it comes to the realization and enjoyment of women’s rights. It is these women that we celebrate today. These amazons have been relentless in their pursuit of a better deal for women.
 
Whether they are pigmented persons or persons with albinism, the Choose to Challenge campaign is for all, after all, we are all first united by our humanity before our gender, before our complexion.
 
When we choose to challenge, we trigger change, unite against stereotypes, see beyond the complexion and change negative perceptions. This is the first step to winning the battle against inequality and the fight against discrimination. Our women are our pride, they partner in making our home, earth become a better place.
 
They deserve the right to choose to challenge every obstacle, so they can soar to heights unimagined.
 
Happy international Women’s Day!
 
Chimezie Udechukwu
Director, Communications and Strategy
OAM Foundation
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