OLABISI: Government Policies On Women Are Only Okay On Paper
IF there is one thing that fires Olabisi Aina’s imagination and passion, it is any issue that has to do with the development, welfare and wellbeing of women. She belongs to the school of thought that says that an educated, fulfilled and happy woman is the indispensable pillar of her family, which in turn, is the bedrock of the society. With over 40 years of working tirelessly on this field, she is more than qualified to give informed opinions and seasoned judgement. She is also ready and willing at any time to contribute her quota in this regard, bringing her wealth of experience whenever this is required.
Her sojourn in this field started way back in 1975, when she was first introduced to the issues of gender and development.
“I was lucky to have my first and second degree programmes within the first decade, which spanned 1975 to1985 of the women’s movement,” she says. “The issue of gender began then. Coincidentally, too it happened that my academic mentor was also very much interested in that area. So, I soon found myself loving it and since then, it has been my passion.”
It is, therefore, not surprising that with the over 40 years of experience in her field, Prof. Olabisi was a natural choice and one of the personalities that represented Ekiti State at the national conference. And no doubt, she is in the position to say and identify on authority all the problems being encountered by Nigerian women in their quest for fulfilment and happiness.
“I specialised and have been dealing with gender and development issues for over three decades, and I have come to recognise that there are so many factors hindering the advancement of women in Nigeria. It is now a truism that women don’t have it that good, compared to their male counterparts, in many facets of life. Nigeria as a nation has signed so many agreements towards improving the place of the woman in our society.
“We have three primary instruments amongst many others with which to implement all these policies and these include the Beijing Platform for Action, Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and then there is the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). There has been some level of responses and efforts at adapting to these international instruments, which has led to a lot of policy actions like the National Gender Policy of 2006.
“However, the effects of these policies have only been like a drop of water in a mighty ocean. The strong point is that as long as the position of the woman is not equitable to that of the man, we will always see disparity in development in the society,” she explains.
On the National Gender Policy and how it has fared, especially in view of the 35 per cent slot pledged to women, Prof. Olabisi says that the different administrations have generally not been able to meet up with its social contract with women.
“As a matter of fact, most of their policies are only on paper and not in practice. For example, when you look at the politics of 35 per cent affirmative action, you begin to ask yourself how far have we gone with this. In terms of elective positions, we are nowhere. It’s so terrible that people are turning women down even in our local communities. Ironically enough, most of us know how competent most women can be when put in positions.
“I, however, think the problem is that we are still fighting with patriarchal culture, which is why you see even local communities preferring male leadership to that of a female, irrespective of who is more competent. It is quite unfortunate that the local community has to be the first stage of conquest for any political aspirant,” she laments.