New Telegraph

2023 : Foundation canvasses improved women inclusion, unveils initiative

Ahead of the 2023 general election, the Akin Fadeyi Foundation (AFF) and some civil society organizations have expressed their determination to ensure increased participation of women in governance and politics in Nigeria.

Speaking yesterday at a stakeholders roundtable organized by the foundation on Gender Inclusive Governance, the executive director of the foundation, Akin Fadeyi, said there has to be a growing voice and rising profile of women in the Nigerian economy, community work at various fairs.

The foundation, which has been vocal in tackling corruption and eradicating social injustice, hosted resourceful personalities on Tuesday to discuss the topic, “Gender Inclusive Governance.”

Fadeyi, said the purpose of the discourse was to drive the change needed for women to become actively involved in Nigerian politics.

Fadeyi said there has to be an intentional withering of cultural restrictions in the perception of what defines how the society brings women into public affairs, political participation and policy framing.

He said, “We have to decide right now that there has to be an expansion of activism of women organization supporting increased participation of women in politics. We have to agree now that there has to be increase of women to take up economic roles in Nigeria. Nigerian women themselves must support themselves in order to record the deserved results.

“Before some of us were born, we had very strong women in Nigeria. What happened to us as a nation and why are our women taking the back seat?

“What happened to the vibrant, strong culture of political participation by Nigerian women? Why is it that in 1999 till date, we have had the House of Representatives, Senate and when we had 109 members of the Senate we will have only three women?

“Why is it that Nigeria signed up to affirmative action at the United Nations but Nigerian government stood against it? Why is it that Nigerian senators from APC flag would not agree to have 35 per cent affirmative action because of cultural and religious constraints? Why do we have this feeling that we should allot some crumbs from the table power allocation to Nigerian women?”

On his part, the Chief Executive Officer of Cable Newspaper Limited, Simon Kolawole, said the issues of gender inclusion are very dear to him personally. According to him, he is always discouraged whenever he looks at what is happening in the political space against women.

Kolawole said, “It is as if when we take one step forward in terms of gender inclusion, we take several steps backwards. So that is why I think this conversation is very important so that we can see how we can raise the volume of this debate so that those who are in a position to act and do things better, we can continue to talk to their collective consciences. We can continue to put them on the spot to realize that this is not how things should be.

“It is quite sad that when in many developed countries, they are talking about gender parity, gender equity but we are still discussing gender inclusion in Nigeria. And nothing is more worrisome than when you look at the political space for instance the presidential race, there is no single female presidential candidate. I hope I’m not wrong because the last I checked I did not see a single female presidential candidate compared to 2019 when we had five although some of them withdrew before the election.”

Another speaker at the event, the Commissioner for Information in Ondo State, Mrs Bamidele Ademola Olateji, said gender inclusiveness cannot be achieved without first addressing the patriarchal dominance men in the political bodies.

Olateji said in politics and governance, structures are erected against women everywhere and until this is addressed, women may not achieve gender equity in the country.

She said, “So to challenge this we must have organized structures as women to push our agenda. And in this the role of women is very important, as women where ever we find ourselves on the leadership ladder, we must seize the opportunity and fight for gender responsive governance.

“We must put in the front burner every issue that affects women because a lot has happened in Nigeria in the last few years because we know that the affirmative action was pushed to the Senate and it was roundly rejected.”

Other speakers like the senior programme officer of MacArthur Foundation, Dr Amina Salihu; director, marketing and communication, The New Life Wellness Place, Tracy Docheff; executive director of Women’s Rights Advancement and Protection Alliance (WRAPA), Sandatu Mahdi, and project management expert, Adekunle Shotubo, agreed that women need to take intentional steps to achieve gender inclusiveness in the country.

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