Nigerian women are leaving no stone unturned in order to ensure that they are prominent in the forthcoming general elections in 2019.
The gender equality bill and the 35 per cent affirmation policy are proving hard nuts to crack but taking over the polls next year should not be difficult with cooperation and determination, they argue.
The psyching up came on Thursday at an event organised by Women’s Research and Documentation Centre (WORDOC) to commemorate the International Women’s Day on March 8
According to the coordinator of WORDOC, Dr. Sharon Omotoso, the event tagged, “Pragmatic Inclusion in the Press for Progress”, was in line with WORDOC’s focus on research, enlightenment and dissemination of information of benefit to women and policy makers. She said it was organised with a special focus on getting more women into politics, especially in the 2019 general elections.
The event, which held at the Lady Bank Anthony hall, Institute of African Studies, University of Ibadan had notable female politicians as well as women activists and academics in attendance. They include: Hon. Mulikat Adeola-Akande, former Majority Leader of the House of Representatives; Princess Olabisi Sangodoyin, President Women Association of Leadership and Governance; Barr. Aderonke Adedayo, former Special Adviser to Governor Abiola Ajimobi on Due Process; Mrs Tayo Agunbiade, media consultant; Miss Mary William and Prof. Olufunmilayo Oloruntimehin, the first African female professor of criminology.
The only man in the panel was Dr. Morohunkola Thomas, Executive Assistant to Oyo State Governor, Abiola Ajimobi, on Political Matters. He delivered the keynote address.
In his address, he stated that a lot of women participate in politics but do so as jesters and singers for the men during campaign. He also regretted that some of the women even work against their fellow women. He encouraged women not to be afraid of what people say about politics.
“Don’t be afraid. The days of guns and cutlasses in politics are gone. We play intellectual politics now. The women you see on this table are in politics, nothing has happened to them. You need to come in and encourage more women because for Nigeria to develop, women must play their part” he said.
He said the his party in Oyo State was encouraging women to participate in the forthcoming local government elections by making nomination forms free of charge for them. He however regretted that out of 600 people that have expressed intention to contest in the election, only about 10 were women.
Concluding, Thomas advocated that the issue of girl child education be taken more seriously especially in the rural areas. He also said early marriage should be fought hard as it was the beggining of the marginalisation of women and also at the fore-front of other discriminatory traditional and cultural practices against women.
“People should also stop seeing women in politics as prostitutes”, he added, stressing that such negative notions are usually peddled to continue to sideline women.
The female panelists also joined their voices in encouraging their women folk to get into the fray and take over.
Speaking, Prof. Oloruntimehin said women were doing well in other areas including academics and the corporate world but are nowhere to be found in politics were the major decisions that affect everything else are taken. She said that apart from contesting, women should also take the issue of coming out to vote for women as part of participation in politics.
Below are some actionable points made by the women panelists to encourage women.
- Political meetings don’t necessarily hold in the night. According to Adedayo, “the notion that political meetings only hold in the night is misplaced. There are female doctors, engineers who work day and night. The case is the same dor female politicians. The determination and importance of other professions that keep women out of their homes should also be attached to politics.
- Do not support political parties that do not put women in the fore-front.
- Participation is not only contesting, voting for women and encouraging others is the most important.
- Do not join in campaigns of calumny against women vying for offices. Some rumours and allegations are false and simply being peddled to pull the women back and down.
- Politics has no age limit. Leading a group of girls as a teenager and being part of decision making is the starting point.
- Married women worrried about their marriages should reach agreements with their husbands and ensure that the children are old enough to take care of themselves before going into full fledged politics.
- Don’t allow yourselves or other women to be used for corruption.
- Don’t forget your roots. Always go back home.
Concluding, Hon. Adeola advised women to seek reforms in the political and electoral system in the country. She also advised women contesting to avoid trivial and abusive campaigns but stick to the serious issues that affect lives of the people they want to represent or lead.