Women In PoliticsWomen In PoliticsNIGERIANS have continued to express outrage at the converging upon Eagle square, Abuja, of a “mass rally” last month, hosted by First Lady Dame Patience Jonathan.
The carnival, co-hosted by the National Council of Women Societies, NCWS, tagged Nigerian Women Rally for Peace and Empowerment, reportedly had 15,000 women from different parts of the country in attendance.
In an event with the First Lady’s signature, phenomenal traffic gridlocks, massive security deployments and road closures grounded activities to a halt in Abuja. It was a bad advertisement for women in politics. Though the “stock of the gains recorded so far in the empowerment of Nigerian women and the quest for peace in the country”, the carnival, debased women.
The deployment of women as mere ‘side shows’ and for their entertainment value in political rallies is abhorrent norm. Nigerian women possess the requisite qualifications for politics, as well as other sectors of Nigerian society.
President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan’s fulfilment of his promise to ensure at least 30 per cent women’s participation in his government through affirmative action has been commended globally, but more has to be done, particularly in women running winning elective positions in the various political parties.
With the gender barriers broken through appointment of women to key positions in government, only eight women were voted into the Senate of 109 senators and 24 out of 360 members of the House of Representatives. No female governor has ever been elected in our history. These should bother women.
Dame Virginia Ngozi Etiaba was the Governor of Anambra State , from November 2006 to February 2007, making her the first ever female governor in Nigeria’s history, through the impeachment of Peter Obi.
Lessons can be learnt and parallels drawn from female political leadership elsewhere. The number of female world leaders serving simultaneously has dropped in recent years to 19 from 20 during much of late 2010 to mid-2012.
Of these, only two: Liberia’s Helen Johnson-Sirleaf and Malawi’s Joyce Banda, are Africans; but other developing countries - Bangladesh, Jamaica and Trinidad & Tobago – currently have women as commanders-in-chief. Apart from Malawi’s Banda, who succeeded her predecessor and a few other appointed ones, all other female world leaders were democratically elected.
Like pioneers, Goldie Mier, elected first Israeli woman Prime Minister in 1969 and the third woman to hold such position in the world, Britain’s Margaret Thatcher and Pakistan’s Benazir Bhutto, stepped up to their men. Two of the world’s most emerging economies Brazil and Argentina are currently led by women. Democracy pre-supposes equal opportunities across gender, ethnic divisions. Nigeria cannot be different.
We can praise the First Lady’s efforts, but she should up the relevance of women in Nigeria.