BY: ELLEN ONUGHA ESQ
Women are mothers of nations and generations. To groom a woman is to build a nation. Women are great influencers of positive changes. A nation that neglects women is a fallen nation.
If a woman can take charge of a position as vital and sensitive as home caretaking, there is no doubt that she would do as good in society management/societal issues, hence women are better positioned for decision making. The participation of women in governance has been hindered by cultural barriers that cannot be addressed in any way other than through cultural reorientation. These barriers have caused sexual harassment of women at workplaces, and have also instilled a sense of insufficiency and incapability in women.
In Nigeria, women constitute nearly half of the population of the country. Also in Nigeria, 51% of women are involved in voting during elections. Despite these, women are greatly underrepresented in both elective and appointive positions. In line with the declaration made at the Fourth World Conference on women in Beijing which advocated 30% AffirmativeAction, the extant National Gender Policy (NGP) of Nigeria, recommended 35% AffirmativeAction instead and sought for a more inclusive representation of women with at least 35% of both elective political and appointive public service positions respectively.
Statistics show that overall women’s political representation in government of Nigeria is less than 7%, showing that Nigeria has not attained 30% affirmative action as prescribed by the Beijing Platform action, not to mention her personal undertaking to exceed the world AffirmativeAction by 5%.
The under-representation of women in political participation gained root due to the patriarchal practice inherent in our society, much of which was obvious from the pre-colonial era to date.
In the last election, out of 22 female vice-presidential candidates, 232 female senatorial and 532 female House of Representative’s standard-bearers, who contested, only 7 made it to the senate and 22 to the House of Representatives. Comparing this to the U.S.A and China, the positions are disparate.
Globally, it has been recognized that inclusivity in political participation is a fundamental aspect of modern democracy. Improved representation of women has been shown to have benefits such as improved policy changes, economic growth, enhanced peacebuilding, and a more egalitarian society.
One can see that countries, where women are part of the decision-making process, are more prone to succeed.
Cultural beliefs from justifying domestic violence, to considering it unacceptable for women to work outside the home need to shift for women to improve their statuses.
The suggestion above has not the intention of recognizing the need for continuous awareness of young women who they are and what they can achieve.
Women who have political experience or are in politics should see it as a duty to groom young women while integrating them into their political spaces.
For a proper understanding of the word “Development”, one needs to think “Inclusivity”. We cannot pretend to not understand what is evident as a solution to our problem as a nation.
The disenfranchisement of women in politics is intentional, and it must be with intentions too that we make amends.