By Yetunde Arebi
How to position women for leadership and effective political participation dominated discussion at the Media Women Forum workshop on “Mobilizing Women for Politics”. All the guest speakers and panel of discussants called on Nigerian women to be involved in politics.
Professor Remi Sonaiya, ex-KOWA party presidential election candidate, said some men feel that having women in leadership positions will be achieved at their own expense, so that brings a certain degree of resistance. She said women should rise above any form of discouragement and strive to make a difference.
Darcy Zotter, public affairs officer, United States Consulate General, highlighted the struggle of women in politics in the United States, the progress made over the years, and how this can influence women in politics in Nigeria. “We recognize that first and foremost women are not encouraged to run. More so women right is human right”.
Hajia Adiza Umoru shared Zotter’s view. She said women are not encouraged. “Given the 35% affirmative action for women in Nigeria seems to have been abandoned. The policy demands 35 percent involvement in all governance process”, she added. Umoru lamented that Nigerian women were marginalized in the democratization process, saying that in spite of the fact that many women were literate, they still hold less than five percent of important decision making positions in the country.
“Statistics show that women are grossly underrepresented in the legislative and executive arms of government across the country. For instance, out of 109 senators, only nine are women, while, at the House of Representatives, 27 out of 360 members are women”.
Remi Adikwu said that there is a clear lopsided membership of the parliament in favor of men. She charged more women to become effectively involved in politics. Yinka Odumakin, Publicity Secretary of Afenifere, also believes that women should actively be involved in politics and position themselves for leadership roles. Victor Okhai, a member of the panel of discussants, asked women to wake up by motivating, sensitizing and creating adequate awareness for women to take leadership positions. Media Women Forum was established to champion the cause of women, motivate them to be active agents of change in their communities and empower women live quality lives.
The forum encourages government and individuals to take positive actions on issues affecting women.
Media Women Forum is largely made up of female media executives who hold decision making positions and seasoned broadcasters.