NWTF, Sonaiya Applaud LASG, Lament Poor Female Representation Nationally
Governor Babajide Sanwoolu and his deputy, Obafemi Hamzat have been commended for appointing 32 per cent women to serve in his cabinet. According to the CEO of Women Radio 91.7, Toun Okewale-Sonaiya, Lagos State has shown a genuine political will that is deliberate and intentional and is worthy of commendation.
Speaking with The Guardian in Lagos, the CEO of the Nigerian Women Trust Fund (NWTF), Mufuliat Fijabi, also commended the Lagos state government, saying it has done very well.
“The present administration has done quite well in terms of female representation in political discourse. It is very close to 35 percent, which is the required number according to the national gender policy. Though he didn’t get to the 35 percent we fought for, I am sure a lot of women around Lagos and the country appreciate this and we urge him to still do more for women representation and inclusion in policymaking and governance.”
Fijabi went on to add that her organisation, as well as many other women-centred organisations and groups, fought hard before and after the general elections to ensure the 35 percent derivative action goal was met. “Despite all our efforts, what do we have today? Barely 16 per cent. This isn’t good enough and shows a lack of effort and political will to include over half the country’s population in matters of national discourse and also flouts international agreements that the country is part of. This isn’t helpful for our democracy and shows we are neither growing nor improving as time goes by.
“If Lagos can do it, why can’t it be done nationally? The government must show political goodwill by including more women in our political discourse if we want to improve the economy, democracy and all other areas of the nation.”
Okewale-Sonaiya on her part said, “Good governance means an inclusive government and the appointment of 32 per cent women indicates that the state, through its party leadership, understands that good governance through fair representation leads to progress and that women matter.”
“Any government that is not inclusive is bound to fail. A government that shuts its doors to gender-sensitivity is setting itself backward and cannot progress. We urge other states and the federal government who are yet to appoint commissioners and boards of agencies and parastatals to emulate the Lagos State progressive approach.”
She added that the decision-making process of Lagos should be commended and urged the governor and party leadership to appoint 35 per cent women as chair of parastatals, agencies and board members. In the same vein, she urged the President and his newly inaugurated cabinet members to approach all national issues with a gender-sensitive perspective.
Sonaiya, who said it might be a bit difficult to achieve this because of the low representation of women in the cabinet, called for a conscious and deliberate effort to be gender-sensitive in setting up and implementing policies and implementation across the country.