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Female professionals, Csos call for active participation for women in politics

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Founding Director, Women Advocates Research & Documentation Centre, (WARDC), Dr.Abiola Akiyode-Afolabi; Chairman, Afriland Properties cum former First Lady of Ekiti State, Erele Angela Adebayo; Former Member, House of Representative, Hon Rafeequat Onabamiro; Chairman, LASACO Assurance Plc cum Vice President, Cosmopolitan Women’s Club, Mrs Aderinola Disu; Former First Lady, Ekiti State, Erelu Bisi Fayemi and Yemisi Ransome-Kuti at a roundtable discussion on the Role of Professional Women in Supporting Women in Leadership, Politics and Governance organised by WARDC in collaboration with the Cosmopolitan Women’s Club in Lagos.

Founding Director, Women Advocates Research & Documentation Centre, (WARDC), Dr.Abiola Akiyode-Afolabi; Chairman, Afriland Properties cum former First Lady of Ekiti State, Erele Angela Adebayo; Former Member, House of Representative, Hon Rafeequat Onabamiro; Chairman, LASACO Assurance Plc cum Vice President, Cosmopolitan Women’s Club, Mrs Aderinola Disu; Former First Lady, Ekiti State, Erelu Bisi Fayemi and Yemisi Ransome-Kuti at a roundtable discussion on the Role of Professional Women in Supporting Women in Leadership, Politics and Governance organised by WARDC in collaboration with the Cosmopolitan Women’s Club in Lagos.

Following the low level of women’s turnout in the political space as well as the inability for government administrations at increasing the number of women occupying elective and appointive positions, women groups have lend their voices asking to be heard.

This was the centre of discuss at a roundtable on the role of professional women in supporting women’s participation in leadership, politics and governance organised by the Women Advocates Research and Documentation Centre (WARDC) and Cosmopolitan Women’s club at the Wheatbaker hotel in Ikoyi, Lagos.

According to the Executive Director, Dr. Abiola Akiyode-Afolabi, the low level of women’s participation and representation in governance and political processes in Nigeria accounts for the significance perpetuation of the social conditions of abuse and discrimination that women suffer. “Women are underrepresented in areas of governance, directorship, and executive leadership, women with dependents pay more tax than men, women in formal employment are paid less than men and in Nigeria nearly five times as many judges and permanent secretaries are men rather than women.

“Research demonstrates that despite an increased presence of female employees in mid-management positions, executive positions continue to be male dominated. WARDC is of the firm opinion that creating a support base and pool of women willing to take up leadership positions, is the key to allowing deeper changes as concerns women participation in leadership and governance,” she added.

Vice President of the Cosmopolitan Women’s club and Chairman LASACO Plc. Mrs. Aderinde Disu in her remarks noted that the low level of women’s participation in governance is responsible for the significant perpetration of social conditions of abuse and discrimination Nigerian women suffer. “With a total number of 109 senators, there are only six females and the same lopsidedness is seen in the House of Representatives.

“So, increasing women’s number in political processes is a necessary step in creating a support base and a pool of women willing to contest and strengthen women’s alliances, which are key to allowing deeper changes in political practices and power relations within and outside political parties.

Wife of the minister of Solid Minerals Mrs. Erelu Bisi Fayemi while speaking on the stigma women face including violence in the society based on our cultural values and traditions. “That is why my stay as former first lady of Ekiti state and a woman who is passionate about women and girls, I ensured that the equal opportunity bill and gender based violence bill were passed. Women need to have a voice and so I encourage that if you want to get into politics, start with your wards, register and get a card. Women should take up ward chairmen positions because they are the highest influencers.”

Former presidential aspirant, KOWA party Dr. Remi Sonaiya while lamenting the challenges women face in political leadership said that the women’s representation has been made worse with the current administration. “There is the perception that politics is a man’s world and so it is rigged in favour of men, women are also seen has having lack experience and being political savvy. Party inconvenient practices like holding late night meetings and the general apathy towards the larger society are also challenges women face but then when professional women come out to lobby, canvass and finance other women, then the society will begin to have a change on the role women have to play in politics.”

First female dean, faculty of Law, University of Lagos Prof. Chioma Kanu Agomo said that it is obvious that at all levels, women’s visibility and participation is needed. “The need to get back to the grassroots is crucial, to our homes, families and how we bring up our children is necessary, to think of not just themselves but the general society; how they can influence and add value not competing. It is a question of corporation, how best can we harness the resources we are endowed with to get the best for ourselves and the society.”


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