By Josephine Agbonkhese
As a long-term strategy towards increasing the number of women in leadership and politics, the Women Advocates Research & Documentation Centre, WARDC, in partnership with Voices for Change/UK Aid, recently organised a workshop for female students of tertiary institutions in Lagos State, to stimulate the girls’ interest in student unionism.
According to Dr Abiola Akiyode-Afolabi, Founding Executive Director, WARDC, “encouraging girls to start participating in politics right from school, would equip them with skills necessary for success in national politics and governance, which will translate into growth in national productivity as women constitute over half of our population.”
Akiyode argued that there was a link between where women are starting from and where they can get to, encouraging girls to hold positions in departments, faculties and their school’s governing body.
She lamented that the number of girls in student unionism is unimaginably low, saying: “If you look at student unionism in Nigeria, you hardly find a woman as president of her school’s student union or in key positions.
“So, this project is aimed at breaking that perception and stereotype by engaging in intergenerational linkages, bringing women who led their schools as students.”
In same vein, Ruth Okonya, Lagos State Coordinator, Voices for Change, emphasised the benefits of starting early and developing smart networking skills, while one of the guest speakers, Barr. Comfort Idika-Ogunye, a former student union leader at the University of Jos during the military era, now Executive Director, Female Leadership Forum, urged every girl to become card-carrying members of a political party once she is 18.