By Maureen Ikpeama
AUGUST is the eighth month of the Roman annual calendar .It is regarded as a very important month.
The month of August in the South East zone of Nigeria is a time Christian women hold their general meetings, review their activities within the year and past years in other to map out strategies and programs to move forward.
Most times, the objectives have to do with women issues, family matters and of recent, developmental projects in their parishes or towns as the case may be.
The women issues include gender equality, provision of access to quality education to women and girls, health care, decent work, and women’s representation in political and economic decision-making processes for sustainable economies and benefits to the society.
Most of the women in urban areas travel to their various villages to join their counterparts in rural areas for a period of three days to one week intensive meetings and workshops
August meeting is beneficial. It affords women the opportunity to visit their homes, at least once a year.
It promotes interaction between the urban and rural women. One interesting thing about the meetings is that women usually use this medium to showcase their talents and leadership skills.
From my observation, August meeting could be said to be the most organized meeting in the south eastern part of Nigeria.. Most of the groups have their own success stories. They carry out different forms of developmental initiatives.
They discipline their fellow women when they misbehave and are reported to the meeting. They support the less privileged ones among them.
In some parishes, with their resources (levies they pay) some of them contributed to community development. Some of them sunk boreholes in their villages, some built or are building halls, market stores, business centers and skills acquisition centres to better their lives.
The Director of Orphanage of the Holy Spirit and International Youth Empowerment and Rehabilitation Centre (IYERC), Rev. Fr. John Damian, observed that most of these women are more organized and responsible than their male counterparts.”
They have used this medium to prove to the world that if given the opportunity, they could govern not only their fellow women but also the society at large.”, he said.
He suggested that instead of using self-centered women political or leaders to reach women, August meetings could be used as a possible and reliable channel whenever items are brought to be shared to women. One interesting thing about August meeting is that the women know and understand themselves more than any other group.
Rev fr Damian said, “They know those who really need help. They also ensure that everyone gets a share of whatever that is presented to them.
If the Government and United Nations must achieve gender equality as ascribed in the SDGs, they must recognize August Meeting and other similar organizations that incorporate urban and rural women.”
Wife of Enugu State Governor, Mrs Monica Ugwuanyi, in one of the August Meetings she attended at Christ the King Parish, AguobuOwa, Ezeagu Local Government Area of Enugu State, described August Meeting as the time when every woman should endeavor to touch lives and support one another for the benefit of peace and unity in the society.
She noted that the period is ideal for women to rededicate themselves to God, take stock of their activities and plan for the year ahead, as well as renew their commitment to the promotion of values of love, tolerance, peace, integration and national development.
In that event, the parish priest of Christ the King Church, AguobuOwa, Rev Fr, Loius Ndulue, urged women to emulate Mother Mary, the Virgin mother of Christ, who should stand as their role model.
He advised them to put God first in all they do so that his love will be a lamp unto their feet.
Through August meetings, Igbo Women have succeeded in addressing the issue of gender equality. They now have a platform where they express themselves without much problem. They have contributed largely to community development.
In the words of Fr. Damian, “If these women could achieve these with their meagre resources, they would do more if given support by the government and non-governmental Organisations.” August meetings have come to stay and should be encouraged.
By Maureen Ikpeama