25 university council members without a woman
It is quite incredible that the Buhari administration that has been preaching gospel of inclusiveness reconstituted the Governing Councils of five federal universities namely University of Ibadan, OAU Ile Ife, Uniport, University of Lagos and the Maritime University in Delta State comprising five members each totalling 25 individuals without including even a woman. It is ‘‘curiouser and curiouser’’ as depicted by ‘‘Alice in Wonderland.’’ We believe that all the president’s men who assisted in shaping these appointments are insensitive. They exhibited poor judgment.
This newspaper endorses the view of the influential Women in Business (WINBIZ) statement that, “Gender equality and equity is a critical aspect of national development in the bid to not only end poverty but to also ensure sustainable development, transformation of lives, improvement of the economy as well as the implementation of progressive policies for the benefit of the citizens of the nation as well as future generations yet unborn.”
In a statement made available to the news media yesterday, WIMBIZ had also noted that, “In a country where women constitute a huge population of the nation, orthodox and outdated policies which promote gender inequality tend to stunt development, breed conflict, cause instability, stir up violence, promote unemployment and enhance poverty.” They said it is against this background that they are convinced that, “giving women a seat at decision making tables across various public and private sectors is not only essential but crucial.”
Therefore, this newspaper believes that the absence of gender diversity in the composition of the recently reconstituted Governing Councils of the five federal universities is a huge concern that should not be overlooked. What is the wisdom in excluding women, yes mothers from decision-making processes of the universities? What is more important than the fact that women who gave birth to the children who are the focal point of education in the tertiary institutions at issue need to be where their children’s destinies are being shaped?
According to the National Democratic Institute (NDI), there is growing recognition of the untapped capacity and talents of women and women’s leadership. Over the last decade, the rate of women’s representation in national parliaments globally has incrementally increased from 15 per cent in 2002 to 19.8 per cent in 2012. The data has improved globally. Some regions have seen particularly dramatic increases, such as Sub-Saharan Africa, where the number of women in parliaments has risen from 13.7 to 19.8 per cent, and even the Arab States region, which has seen an increase from 6.1 to 14.7 per cent. This is still well below the 30 per cent benchmark often identified as the necessary level of representation to achieve a “critical mass” – not to mention falling short of women’s representation as half of the world’s population.
The appointing authorities in the nation’s capital should note that the full and equitable participation of women in public life is essential to building and sustaining strong, vibrant democracies. Accordingly, the meaningful participation of women in national, local and community leadership roles has become an important focus of global development policy. Still, some may ask why it matters if women become political leaders, elected policymakers or civil society activists. Why does the world need more women involved in all aspects of the political process? The answer isn’t too far to seek: Women’s political participation results in tangible gains for democracy, including greater responsiveness to citizen needs, increased cooperation across party and ethnic lines, and more sustainable peace.
Besides, women’s participation in politics helps advance gender equality and affects both the range of policy issues that get considered and the types of solutions that are proposed. Research indicates that whether a legislator is male or female has a distinct impact on their policy priorities, making it critical that women are present in politics to represent the concerns of women and other marginalised voters and help improve the responsiveness of policy making and governance. There is strong evidence that as more women are elected to office, there is also a corollary increase in policy making that emphasises quality of life and reflects the priorities of families, women, and ethnic and racial minorities. Women’s political participation has profound positive and democratic impacts on communities, legislatures, political parties, and citizen’s lives, and helps democracy deliver.
Research has also shown that women’s leadership and conflict resolution styles embody democratic ideals and that women tend to work in a less hierarchical, more participatory and more collaborative way than male colleagues. Women are also more likely to work across party lines, even in highly partisan environments. It appears that most governments in Nigeria do not agree with these realities.
Since assuming 56 per cent of the seats in the Rwandan parliament in 2008, women have been responsible for forming the first cross-party caucus to work on controversial issues such as land rights and food security. They have also formed the only tripartite partnership among civil society and executive and legislative bodies to coordinate responsive legislation and ensure basic services are delivered.
Twenty-five per cent of women lawmakers in the U.S. cite women from the opposition party as key supporters of their top legislation, while only 17 per cent of male lawmakers name similar support.
In the Russian Federation, an examination of the role of female legislators in the Duma, or parliament, shows that the women legislators were able to set aside ideological and party differences to promote legislation benefiting children and families on a multi-partisan basis. They proposed measures that increased benefits to citizens with children, extended pregnancy benefits and parental leave, reduced taxes for families with many children, created penalties for domestic violence, and promoted equal rights for men and women.
Women members of parliament (MPs) in Britain have informally worked together across party lines on issues that are important to society, including issues like employment law, equal pay, and violence against women.
In a demonstration that women party members are prepared to cross the boundaries of parties, ethnicity, religion, language and districts to meet their objectives, NDI has identified non-partisan issues in Sri Lanka on which women politicians from all parties came together, despite extreme political tensions, to draft and endorse a platform for improving women’s political participation.
Only five years after the women’s suffrage movement achieved the rights of women to vote and run for office in Kuwait, newly elected female legislators coalesced to introduce amendments to the labour law that would give working mothers mandatory nursing breaks, and provide onsite childcare for companies with more than 200 employees.
These are sacred facts that should influence Nigeria’s political leaders to consider more women in their political recruitments and leadership considerations. That is why the recent presidential appointments into five federal universities without including even a woman should be considered as embarrassing and therefore should be suspended and reconstituted.