Women shuns ethnic obstacles to forge ahead in politics
The era when women get relegated as second-class citizens in name of cultural and religious factors in Nigeria’s male-dominated political spheres, is now being reviewed as the women have decided to strive for the fore positions in politics, saying ‘No’ to all forms of obstacles.
This was why Women in Management and Business (WIMBIZ) recently organized a one-day event for Women in Politics (WIMPOL), titled, Politics 101, The Winning Formula at Eko Hotel & Suites recently to bring to the fore, the under-representation of Nigerian women in the political space.
In her remark, Mrs. Olubunmi Aboderin, Chairperson of WIMBIZ Executive Council said, WIMPOL forum is aimed at helping women to understand the political terrain, by having women bring together other women who are passionate for running the nation, as well as for women who want to support others.
“Despite the fact that women in Nigeria play a crucial role in the socio-economy of the country, yet, there is a political drop in women representation and we are not yet in the top political game.
“WIMPOL aims to strengthen the success rate of women politics in Nigeria” she said.
Despite the visible crucial role Nigerian women like, Queen Amina of Zaria, Queen Idia of Benin, Funmilayo Ransome Kuti and others played in the pre-colonial era towards the development of the country, which has contributed to shaping the political system of the nation, Nigerian women are still dragged back to the secondary position in politics due to cultural and religious stereotypes.
Speaking at the event, Mrs. Dupe Adelaja, who referred to herself as a strong woman, and was actively involved in politics in 1998, said, despite the hurdles of politics, she managed to survive it, and at such, the political space is for strong and tough women who are ready to put in everything they have on he table.
“You cannot build a nation if you do not put your money where your mouth is, and set your priorities right.
“We should quit the abuse of fellow women and begin to give our women high level of dignity.
“There is need to go out there and build women’s capacity, education and infrastructure because, if women are facilitated, they would rank high in dignity.
“We need to embrace our women and do what the men are doing, because we can do better,” she added.
Iyom Anene, first Pioneer National Women Leader of PDP said, women should quit the feeling of handicap without a man or husband, because women do not need to be anybody’s wife to be great.
“Being the wife of, have it pros and cons that opens doors of great opportunity, as well as limits and stunts you.
“You are complete and have the capacity to do great on your own without necessarily being a wife of anybody.
“I lost out of President Obasanjo’s ministerial position because the house realised my husband was also a minister and cannot have husband and wife as ministers.
“It is not easy for women who want to aspire for political position, but you just need to consciously try to expand your position, because nobody would give you space on a platter of gold.”
Anene added that, ‘godfatherism’ in politics has come to stay, hence, women should equally sponsor other women as godmothers and ensure to have someone to speak for them.
Keynote speaker, Mrs. Ijeoma Okeigbokwe, Acting Administrative Secretary of INEC said one of the numerous responsibilities of getting more women involved in politics is to conduct voting education for women.
“Since 2006, INEC has been working hard to empower women politics.
“The aim is to ensure the marginalized group, especially women are seen and represented in the political group.
“The commission is doing a lot to make sure the women come to the fore of politics because even in the men political terrain, women are their best supporters, so it is time for women to stand up in their political space and support each other” she said.
Okeigbokwe added that, INEC have also advised cultural rulers to eradicate the cultural aspect of the law that restricts women participation in the leadership of the nation.
“However, women also need to socialise, network early, and build relationship of trust, because it is only people who trust you that would want you to be their leader.
“Politics means that you have to go up and also come down, you have to start from the scratch, the grassroots, because that is the base foundation for politics.
“We must identify a problem in our environment and proffer a solution, and through that we become relevant in the society” she revealed.
She, however, added that women have the selfish kind of attitude to spend more money on themselves, whereas the next door neighbour is hungry, jobless and struggling with other challenges.
“Men seldom spend money on material things, they dress up in simplicity and do important things with their money,” she said.
Mrs. Afusat Abiola, current Adviser of Trade and Investment in Nigeria, sighted the immense impact, Mrs. Peju Adebayo, the Commissioner of Agriculture in Ogun State is making.
“Women should replicate the winning formula of women for women because I believe women would represent Nigeria better than the men have done,” she noted.
The WIMPOL event also platformed female politician panelists, who have managed to reach a reasonable position in the Nigerian politics, as they talked about the way forward for Nigerian women in politics, whilst highlighting the obstacles, and how to navigate them.
Ambassador Foluke Marcus, Nigerian Ambassador to Melawi stated practical steps and approach to politics that includes registering and voting for fellow women. Adding that, getting into politics as a woman, means being ready to be labeled.
“Once you get into the political space, you have to be firm and tough as there is no room for fret or giving up.
“Know the people around you. Nigeria is made up of 774 wards, go and find out the nearest ward to you and take it from there” she said.
Chief Ibem Semine, said women have the mentality of not wanting other women to reach the top, hence, they do everything possible to keep them down.
“The first place to start is to change our mentality and know that helping other women to reach the skies equates flying to the top, too. Get ready to be called names but don’t be discouraged.
“Get your priorities right and eliminate all forms of mediocrity” she said. She then advised women to maintain their integrity because people are going to look for loopholes.
Honorable Nnena Elendu, a member of the Federal House of Representatives, Bende Federal Constituency, Abia State, appreciated WIMBIZ for the pragmatic approach to WIMPOL, saying: “Women who want to get into politics should be self-defined because, the men believe any woman who is running have the blind ambition of controlling everyone.”