TWENTY six years after the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, which was adopted unanimously by 189 countries who signed a 35 percent Affirmative Action on women inclusion in policymaking, election and appointment, which is now considered the key global policy document on gender equality not much has been achieved so far in this regard in Nigeria.
THE Beijing conference requires that every government establishment must have 35 percent women inclusion, but it’s worrisome that up till now the federal government of Nigeria is still paying lip service. And it is obvious there is seemingly no political will for implementation.
FROM the local to the global level, women’s leadership and political involvement are restricted, due to discriminatory laws, practice, attitudes and gender stereotypes, low levels of education, lack of access to healthcare and the disproportionate effect of poverty on women.
THEY’RE underrepresented as voters, as well as in leading positions be it in the civil service, elected position, the private sector and even the academia. This has continued despite women’s proven ability as great leaders and agents of change.
THIS trend flows from the national level, to state down to local levels where few women take the lead in local government chairman and councilors. Despite agitations by women groups and organizations, the proportion of women in leadership and management positions has continued to fall short of the affirmative action.
RECENTLY, the All Progressives Congress (APC) women held their progressive congress in Abuja and their major focus was the inclusion of women in politics and leadership.
HOWEVER, it’s worthy of note that individual women have overcome these barricades with great acclaim, and often to the benefit of society at large. But for women as a whole, the playing field needs to be levelled.
STATISTICS reveal that the 9th Assembly which comprises 109 senators only seven are women, while only 11 are females out of 360 house members. Currently, there is no female governor in the country, also only 4 out of 36 deputy governors are female.
IN the entire country, only 44 women are members of state assemblies nationwide. Records show that no woman has ever become president nor vice president.
WE as a people need to find ways of closing the wide gap created, by making conscious efforts for women inclusion and participation in politics, leadership and other areas.
GOVERNMENT at all levels can use the method of reserved seats as a good way to get more women into politics or elected positions. Rwanda is a good example for Nigeria to borrow a leaf. In 2003, Rwanda adopted a constitution that reserves 30 percent of parliamentary seats for women and requires political parties to ensure women hold at least 30percent of internal positions.
WOMEN on the other hand should work hand in hand with each other, especially in the area of politics. Women can channel their resources together to sponsor a female candidate of their choice for an elective position instead of waiting for the men for sponsorship during elections. More work must be done to create a more inclusive executive culture and empower women to pursue leadership positions.