The Nigerian Feminist Forum (NFF) has condemned the comments against feminism credited to renowned cleric and founder of Living Faith Church Worldwide, Bishop David Oyedepo on feminism, saying he should rather proffer solutions to insecurity, inflation, amongst others confronting the nation.
The condemnation was contained in a statement signed by the NFF Communications Officer, Angela Nkwo, on Wednesday, with the group also demanding that the cleric apologises for comments it regarded as insensitive to women.
Oyedepo had during a sermon to his congregation at the weekend posited that feminism leads to frustration and devastation, when he said: “Right now, there is a feminine revolution. Then you get into feminine frustration and destiny devastation. If feminist revolution is your vision, don’t attempt to get married, because it won’t work”.
According to the women’s group, Oyedepo’s comments “cast huge aspersions on being a woman, its definition and expectations therein when he advised women against joining the feminist movement because it leads to frustration and devastation”.
NFF said contrary to the claims spread by people, feminism is about demanding for gender equity, justice and access to equal resources for everyone, which will benefit families, communities and the wider society as a whole.
The statement said his unsubstantiated claim that “if feminist revolution is your vision, don’t attempt to get married, because it won’t work”, failed to accept or even understand that marriage involves two consenting adults, who have to agree to live together.
Further, the NFF said the cleric’s comments justified the notion that women do not lead branches of Oyedepo’s church, popularly called Winners Chapel, saying it is condemnable as women form a huge followership of the congregation.
The NFF queried if feminists were the cause of his disengaged Pastors who failed to meet their assigned targets by the church even as they maintained they were male, who do not advance feminist principles.
“We need to ask the eminent cleric, did feminists and their coalitions cause the unproductivity of his Pastors, or the insecurity and high inflation that has enveloped the nation?
“Nigerian women grapple with insecurity, sexual and gender-based violence, lack of access to quality healthcare and education, oppressive cultures, widowhood practices, wife inheritance, female genital mutilation, cultural beliefs that subdue women such as the land ownership, and being seen and not heard, and these must be stopped”, the group said.
It also pointed out that there were thousands of married people who have no knowledge of feminism but are still living unhappy and unfulfilled lives simply because they married wrongly or are living with abusive partners.
According to the NFF statement, “marriage is not an achievement as postulated by the cleric but simply the decision of two consenting adults to live together and where not workable they go their separate ways.
“The Bible which he professes preaches unity, tolerance, and acceptance but not the condemnation and bias that he sought to advance, and we condemn this in its entirety because it clearly puts pressure on the aspiration of women simply because of their gender and not their abilities”.
The NFF called on the cleric to dialogue with the federal government to fashion out clear strategies to combat insecurity, inflation, and growing health concerns, even as it maintained these challenges were not caused by feminists.
NFF also charged the cleric to immediately retract the comments which he made saying it “grossly misrepresents his pedigree as a respected and eminent cleric in Nigeria and as an international figure”.
The group further called on Oyedepo to “issue an apology for the gross misrepresentation and cause for concern he provided for women to be silenced, ignored, and subjected to gender-based violence”.
They charged the Christian Association of Nigeria and the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria to which the cleric belongs to caution him and other members from utterances that clearly promote sexual and gender-based violence in Nigeria.
The NFF advocated that Nigeria be made safe for women and girls to enable them fulfill their full potentials for positive effect and change in the Nigerian system.