As Nigeria joins the rest of the world to celebrate the international women’s day on March 8, 2017, let us pause and reflect on being a woman in Nigeria.
The theme this year is “#Beboldforchange”. It was a theme carefully picked to encourage women to step up and help drive gender equality in our nation.
Globally, gender equality in political participation is a fundamental aspect of modern democratic governance. It would be impressive if both men and women have equal rights and opportunities to participate fully in all aspects and at all levels of political processes. But in practice, women face challenges and the number of women in political leadership is very low in Nigeria.
Nevertheless, today’s women are taking active part in political issues than ever before, as a result of what I call political revival and awareness. More often than not, women are inundated with so many challenges of which discrimination from the male gender is more prevalent.
The mentality of most men has been that decision-making is exclusively for the men while women are to be instructed on what to do. The idea and notion of women playing the number two role at home and the religious belief that they must be submissive to the men have come to play out in the political life of the people.
Little wonder why President Muhammad Buhari felt that his wife belonged not to any political party but strictly belonged to the other room, an insinuation that his wife has no political opinion. And this ought to be so.
Despite the difficulties faced by women in politics in Nigeria, the likes of Prof. Remi Sonaiya, who ran as the only female presidential candidates under KOWA party in the 2015 general election, present minister of women affairs senator Aisha Jummai Al-Hassan who ran for the position of governor in Taraba state in the last governorship election in the state, Amina J. Mohammed who serve as the former Minister of environment but recently made the Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations, to mention but a few are among eminent women who have continued with their political ambitions, contributing enormously to the political and national development in their own ways.
Though Nigeria is yet to have a female president or governor, women have continued to show their strength and competency in all phases of leadership, and they should be encouraged and motivated
One of the campaign promises of Mr. President is to implement the national gender policy, which commits to affirmation action and requires that women fill 35% of appointed positions. But that hasn’t been given attention in this administration unlike the previous administration of President Goodluck Jonathan that had about 30% of women appointed.
Among other reasons are the money needed to run campaigns which are obviously too expensive and too much, the kind of money many believe women are less likely to have. The assumption that women sleep around to get position is still rampant.
Also, most people are of the opinion that women have not been doing well as leaders politically. They are quick to call out the former Minister of Petroleum Diezani Alison-Madueke, former minister of aviation Stella Oduah-Ogiemwonyiwho is a serving senator at the National assembly, etc. as corrupt women but they are also quick to overlook the fact that men too have been incompetent and corrupt in our society. This goes to say that, incompetency and corruption have nothing to do with gender or race.
As the world celebrates today, the government must recognise that women have some potential and rights to contribute meaningfully to the development of the country. They should be given the chance.
It must also be realised that the role women plays as homemakers cannot be downplayed in that it equally has an extended impact on their responsibility in service.
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