By Olasunkanmi Akoni
THE United Kingdom,UKaid Department for International Development (DFID) in collaboration with the Lagos State Deputy Governor’s office organized a Southwest Nigeria regional conference on Women in Governance from 29th to 30th September, 2015.
As a follow up to the one held in February, 2015, the purpose of the conference was to build synergies between Women in Business and Private sector, Politics and Civil society to develop strategies and take actions that will ensure that the target of 35 percent participation of Women in Governance will be met in order to achieve national developmental goals, with the overarching objective of Ensuring Better Social Inclusion and Good Governance At All Levels of Government.
The conference was themed: “Women’s Participation in Democratic Governance in South West Region.”
Dogged pursuit of improved society over the years has seen significant leaps towards the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals, MDGs at all levels and the social inclusion of women in democratic governance since 1999.
The agency and state government put the conference to analyse women participation, roles in democratic governance in the country with the aim of adopting actions to bridge what they termed, “unacceptable” gender gap, in political representation in the country.
Interestingly, women representation in the National Assembly since 1999 as a case study has systematically increased. In the current 8th National Assembly, there are more women honourable members and Distinguished Senators over what was produced in 1999, 2003 and 2007. The same goes for the number of local government chairmen that were produced.
They noted that no political gathering in Nigeria is ever complete without women, but when key positions are to be contested for, women are not considered for them nor encouraged to participate.
The participants at the conference who addressed how women could take advantage of the minimum standard to a large extent, contended that just as politics and governance are siamese twin so should women and men be on the issues that affect the lives of both gender especially as it relates to governance.
They called on President Buhari to provide more opportunities for women in his emerging administration.
Oluremi Tinubu, representing Lagos Central District in the Senate, in her address as a keynote speaker lamented that the 35 percent affirmative action for women was not being followed across all political divides in the country.
She noted that while more women have come into governance and participated in elections since the advent of democratic rule in 1999, the quest for reaching the 35 percent women representation must be sustained until it is achieved and even surpassed.
Tinubu added that since women constitute more than half of the population and also majority of voters during the elections, it is ironical that they are the minority compared to the male.
“Women constitute about half of the Nigerian population going by the 2006 census figures. Women also constitute a great majority in the voting population, yet they are minority when you look at the number of candidates running for elective positions or the few who actually get elected”.