WIMBIZ takes women in politics dialogue to Abuja
In Nigeria, women account for about 49.34 per cent of the population, yet they have 3.94 per cent representation in political appointments and 16.2 per cent in ministerial appointments. Closing this gender gap was a major concern for Women in Management, Business and Public Service (WIMBIZ) at its just concluded Women in Politics (WIMPol) Dialogue, which held last Saturday at Transcorp Hilton, Abuja.
The WIMPol Dialogue was a gathering of women in politics, politicians, political groups, civic societies, key stakeholders and leaders of major political parties across the country.
In attendance was the Speaker, Federal House of Representatives, Rt. Hon Femi Gbajabiamila, who gave the keynote address. Other speakers included, Namibian High Commissioner to Nigeria, H.E. Humphrey Geiseb, Minister of Women Affairs and Social Development, Dame Pauline Tallen, Representative of the Minister of State, FCT, Dr. Ramatu Tijani, former member, House of Representatives, Hon. Nnenna Ukeje, Mrs. Amina Farouk, a senior legal practitioner and Mr. Babajide Ogunsanwo, Founder, The Factbox.
Giving the opening remarks on behalf of the Board of Trustees of WIMBIZ, Mrs. Adeola Azeez shared the founding principles of WIMBIZ with the delegates and the goals and objectives of the WIMBIZ Women in Politics program.
Azeez said in line with the WIMBIZ’s overall vision to be the catalyst that elevates the status and influence of women and their contribution to nation-building, the goal through WIMPol is to increase the representation of women in public office through influence and advocacy with an objective to grow female representation from 4 per cent to 30 per cent, in line with the 1995 Beijing Declaration on women and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 5. She said, because no one walks the journey of politics alone, WIMBIZ intends to “collaborate” with other women’s groups, the legislature, political parties and other stakeholders, to achieve these objectives.
In addition, the Chair of the WIMPol Committee, Mrs Chizor Malize stated that the expected outcome of the dialogue is to prepare capable and well-equipped women for elective and appointive position ahead of 2023 and beyond.
In her goodwill address to delegates, the Minister for Women Affairs and Social Development, Dame Pauline Tallen used the platform to advocate for a one-third quota system for women, not just in politics, but across various public offices in Nigeria.
While commending WIMBIZ on its commitment to women in politics ahead of 2023, she charged the 9th National Assembly to enact relevant laws to ease the increase in representation of women in public offices. Represented by the Director of Gender, the Minister of State, FCT, Dr. Ramatu Tijani, while welcoming delegates to Abuja for the dialogue, buttressed on the urgent need for collaboration among women ahead of 2023.
Keynote speaker Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila commended WIMBIZ for putting together the event. He said with good ideas, funding and organisations such as WIMBIZ, more Nigerian women should get elected into public office. The Speaker also noted that the 9th Assembly had made gender equality a cardinal point in its legislative agenda, adding that he would personally champion this cause for women in the lower chamber of the National Assembly, including spear-heading constitutional amendments that will aid the increase in representation of women.
While charging women to register and belong to a political party, and participate fully for their voices to be heard, Gbajabiamila also said he would recommend to the National Executive Committee of his party, the creation of a special victory fund for women to sponsor their political activities.
While encouraging other National political parties to adopt this idea, he stated that the fund, if created, will allow the party, independent of its other activities, to engage with organisations such as WIMBIZ to identify willing and capable women to contest for elective positions at all levels of governance. He further stated that through this fund political parties would provide training, support and assistance with the funding requirements for electoral campaign for office. He said this fund would be credited from a percentage of the sales of nomination and expression of interest forms.
According to him: “In Nigeria, we contend with a culture that has created, and too often, continues to encourage and tolerate practices that disenfranchise our women, limit educational and economic opportunities available to them and restrict their ability to reach their highest potential”. He, therefore, reaffirmed his preparedness to champion the cause of a constitutional amendment of sections that currently limit gender inclusion.
The dialogue, which lasted for more than four hours, ended with a panel discussion on how women can convert their numbers to strength. The panel session, which was moderated by seasoned journalist Kadaria Ahmed, had Babajide Ogunsanwo, data analyst and founder of The Factbox, and Amina Ibrahim Farouk, Partner, Onokwai Ibrahim Sa’ad and Partners on stage.