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Women want more elective slots in 2019

By Tobi Awodipe and Adelowo Adebumiti
30 July 2018   |   3:41 am
As the 2019 general elections draw near, some organisations across the country, including Women Radio FM 91.7, Nigerian Women Trust Fund (NWTF), Women In Politics Forum (WIPF) and others have advocated for gender equality in political participation.

Toun Okewale-Sonaiya

As the 2019 general elections draw near, some organisations across the country, including Women Radio FM 91.7, Nigerian Women Trust Fund (NWTF), Women In Politics Forum (WIPF) and others have advocated for gender equality in political participation.

They maintained that until the equation was balanced or at least improved beyond what it was at present, Nigeria’s democracy would continue to face challenges in crucial areas in which the menfolk have failed.

Alluding to the Beijing Declaration of 1995 in China, which advocated for more women participation in politics and decision-making, they said it was important for the male gender in Nigeria to concede some critical positions.

In a bid to actualise their proposition, the women organisations have planned a summit to set the wheels in motion ahead of 2019.Chief Executive Officer, Women Radio FM 91.7, Mrs. Toun Okewale-Sonaiya, who spoke on the programme said: “The aim of the summit, scheduled to hold at the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Abuja, is to assemble all women politicians, who have expressed interest to contest various elective offices in next year’s general elections.

“The summit will enable all women aspirants to work together and strategise to win more elective positions come 2019.”Expatiating on the summit tagged, ‘The 2019 General Elections Women Aspirants Summit,” Okewale-Sonaiya said one critical point on the agenda was to bring together women with diverse experiences to further advance their participation in political processes and governance.

She said those expected at the summit include women presidential, governorship, senate and House of Representatives aspirants in the next general election, adding: “Our theme is ‘Working together for 2019’. This is the first of a kind and we are focusing on several paramount issues, including resource mobilization for campaigns, campaign team management, media visibility for women seeking elective positions, negotiating party hurdles amongst other pertinent issues.”

Meanwhile, the All Progressives Congress (APC) National Women’s Leader, Dr. Ramatu Tijjani Aliyu, said female participation in politics has taken a hit due to lack of encouragement and mentorship.She said women by nature are endowed with unique capacity to shape lives, stressing that in legislative discussions, they could raise issues and priorities related to society’s most vulnerable members, particularly children. She noted that such issues could be debated differently if there are adequate women representations in legislative arm of government.

In her remark, a delegate to the 2014 national conference, Chief Temitope Ajayi, described women as the engine room of any nation and the face behind the mask of any leader. Also, former Minister of Education, Dr. Oby Ezekwesili, while calling for more involvement of women in politics, stated: “Not having women in leadership positions placed the country at a disadvantage, as it would not function with its full repertoire of skills and talents.”

The former Vice President of the World Bank who was the keynote speaker at a one-day consultative meeting organized by The Women Leadership (WLI) of the Institute of National Transformation in Lagos stated that men have been in the forefront of political leadership in the country since the new democratic dispensation in 1999, yet have not been able to lead the nation well enough to the expectation of her citizens.

Speaking on the theme “Enhancing Women’s Transformative Leadership in Nigeria- positioning for 2019”, she said men have not developed the country well enough to be reckoned with in the comity of nations.

“It is therefore necessary for women, known for their ingenuity and natural gift for organisation, to partner with men to change the status quo”, she said.
Ezekwesili also underscored the fact that other countries in Africa are already taking a lead in this direction by having women occupy 50 percent political positions, pointing out that some of these countries are already reaping the benefits in growth and development.

Coordinator of the Women’s Leadership Institute, Mrs. Juliet Ovie-Binitie stated that the Institute is a “women-led” training and policy-influencing arm of INT that is dedicated to building the transformative leadership potential of women in all sectors of society.She said the Institute organised the consultative forum to ensure that women’s issues are central in the upcoming 2019 elections. She also encouraged women to collaborate across different sections to enable them influence policy making in the country.

Also, Director of Administration, INT, Mrs. Peggy Anigbogu, highlighted the need for the forum saying globally, countries that have enhanced gender equality in leadership experience increased growth and overall performance.

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