By JOSEPHINE IGBINOVIA
She admires greatly,women like Mrs.Ransome Kuti and Queen Amina of Zaria who fought bravely for the liberation of women in Nigeria. A member of the Young Women Christian Association-YWCA since 1969, Mrs.Oyeyemi Tinubu is the Chairperson, National Membership Committee, YWCA. In this interview, she bemoans the dwindling effect of the judicial system on women’s movement in the country and x-rays how women are manipulated even in politics.
What’s the essence of your annual membership day celebrated across the world a couple of months ago?
The goal of our World Membership Day is to bring members together to reaffirm their involvement in the YWCA movement. In other words, it’s to renew their association with this movement, in terms of reminding ourselves of our responsibility towards ensuring justice and quality welfare for women and girls across the globe.
Essentially, how would you assess the Nigerian situation in this regard?
Women have not been given their rightful place in the community and country as a whole, in terms of governance. The percentage of women in government is still too low, and those who have the opportunity to be in government have not been acknowledged nor given adequate opportunity to contribute to or influence policies; even policies that affect them. Every woman has a right to decisions concerning her life, and this applies to the home front as well! A woman is not inferior to a man, and the earlier we understand this, the better for us all.
According to statistics, women are very much prominent in the scheme of affairs in the Western world, compared to what we have in Nigeria? What’s your view on this?
If you go into British history or the histories of these countries you have in mind, you’ll discover that the situation was the same. The women were however brave enough to stand up for their rights, not minding the consequences. But in Nigeria, a lot of us women haven’t got the courage.
For those who displayed courage, take for instance women like Mrs.Ransome Kuti and Queen Amina of the North, we knew what persecution they went through because they were fighting for the rights of women. Today, even your own male child will beg you not to try to fight the cause of women.
Why? Because there is no justice in this country! You go to the law court, you won’t find justice, and when you go to the church, you’re counseled on submission! All these zero down to our upbringing, and I think we need a change. We need to start training the girl and the boy child equally, and start desisting from letting the boy look down on the girl, believing he is more superior.
Give them equal opportunity in education and give them equal opportunity even in the area of freedom. We all go to the same universities, but because of the upbringing, later in life, the men begin to see women as lesser beings. We need a serious change.
You talked about improving the representation of women in government; if women could mobilise towards helping a male politician win an election, why is it hard for them to mobilise towards increasing their representation by also helping themselves win elections?
I have tried my hands on politics at the grassroots level and I must tell you that I was sad to see what goes on in this country. The things men can do when it comes to elections and voting in this country, I tell you categorically, no right thinking mother would do them.
There’s a lot of manipulation, violence and inhumanity! To me, women are more responsible and god-fearing; it would be difficult for a woman to just want to terminate the life of another woman simply because of a political position. Even the night meetings are enough to discourage us from politics.
Just like women in the banking industry who weather difficult storms to grow in their profession, why can’t female politicians rise up to the demands of Nigerian politics?
The analogy of a banker is different from politics; in politics, there is plenty of intrigue! Banking is a profession that has guidelines, methods and systems; my daughter works for a bank and I know what I’m talking about. But the procedure of politics in this country is not such that enables a woman to get deeply involved without the men, and of course, the men will not support a woman all the way!
In Europe, a woman could be supported if she has the points and a defendable manifesto, but not in Nigeria. Even, their children join politics as early as secondary school! Hence, by the time they become adults, they’ve mastered the game.
But in Nigeria, because of the chaotic nature of our politics, no parent would want to allow his/her child do so because they’re scared of losing that child. In a nutshell, I want to say that our political system needs serious overhaul. Otherwise, this country will continue to move in circles.