Mrs Saraki, Sen Olujimi, Adaora advocate friendly legislations for women in politics

By Moses Okorie

Wife of former Kwara State governor, Mrs. Toyin Saraki, former minority leader of the Senate, Biodun Olujimi, Director of Gender Strategy Advancement International, Adaora Onyechere Sydney-Jack, former country director, ActionAid Nigeria, Mrs. Ene Obi, founder, SheForum Africa, Ms Inimfon Etuk and other prominent women have called for friendly legislations that would give Nigerian women greater opportunity in politics.

They made the appeal in Abuja on Wednesday at a conference, The GodMothers’ Mentorship Series, lamenting that some African countries have already implemented 50 percent affirmative action for women, but Nigeria is still relegating their women to the background.

Mrs. Saraki urged all women to be interested in politics, and to make themselves relevant to the people at all times; not just to showcase themselves when elections are around the corner.

“When women gather and resolve, there is a transformation. As you see, we are starting very early in the election cycle, though elections are not just about presidential and gubernatorial, but the local government, we even have to look beneath that”.

The former Kwara first lady who is also the president of The Wellbeing Foundation Africa, WBFA, said, “Who wins in an election is not actually decided on the election day, it begins within the party, and each party chooses its candidate. If we really advocate for more enlightenment and formal activities amongst women, then most women have a chance of being chosen as delegates within their political parties, and once there are female delegates, they have a voice and vote even within the party.

“The best form of advocacy is action. We need to have women out there taking the opportunity to run, making sure that on merit, they are the best candidates, and persuading other women to vote for them. I think it is seeing activity in action that gives people the courage to support someone.

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On The Wellbeing Foundation Africa, we are working with the children, right from when they are to school, until when they enter university, with the curriculum that first teaches them respectful relationships, about looking up to themselves, dignity and also about having autonomy. Leadership should not be by endurance.

On her part, former minority leader of the Senate, Biodun Olujimi, said the older politicians need to support the younger ones and mentor them towards taking over the mantle of leadership.

She advised Nigeria to emulate Senegal and Sierra Leone who have made legislation to accommodate more women in politics.

“Some of us have few active years left of political activism, but the younger ones must be motivated to be able to come and be part of the discourse. Young people are very vibrant, more energetic than some of us, but they are usually skeptical when it comes to political participation. Time for us to work is now”.

Ms Inimfon Etuk, founder, SheForum Africa stated that there is no point waiting until 2027 before the female folks could start galvanizing themselves for the realisation of gender equality in the country’s political arena.

She said her organisation has come to the understanding that no group can do it alone in building Nigeria to the desire of many.

Ms Etuk added that SheForum Africa’s aim is all about leveraging on strength of members, other individuals and organisations to move things on in the country, adding that the NGO not only dwells on gender equality, but other things.

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“No one person, no one organisation can do it alone; we all know there are a lot of target right now globally, there is the United Nations 2030 target for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

“Part of the SDGs is gender equality, there is also goal which talk about partnership, our target in Nigeria is surrounded by the achievement of democratic dispensation by 2027.”

Speaking further on their demand, Mrs. Adaora Onyechere Sydney-Jack said The GodMothers’ Mentorship Series is about bridging the gap for leadership especially for young women. “Looking at the fact that the 2027 general elections are around the corner, if we look at the membership of the parliament, the number of women is small.

“The idea is to continue to galvanise, to look at issues concerning mentorship, bridging the gap, having the conversations, but most importantly creating a lead way for the documentation of some of the stories, and ensuring that women would be able to tell the story.

She said having participated in the 2019 elections herself and seeing the challenges women face during election, it was important to for women to be deliberate about first building synergies across generational lines to look at active partnerships through active mentorship and shared aspirations.

She also spoke about the importance of documentation and story telling on women’s trajectories in elections and leadership so that the right stories and the right narratives are repositioned and reimagined for not just the next generation of girls but also for Africa.

She said Nigeria needs to become the agency that shapes the conversation for women positively starting from the community level where development largely depends on women as curators of sustainable development.

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Sydney-Jack who is the host of Africa’s number one Policy literacy program for women Gender Agenda programme on Africa Independent Television (AIT) stated that there was need to change the narrative and have more women in political positions in Nigeria especially in parliament.

She also called the 10th assembly to decisively look at the thoroughness of the 5 gender bills as the inroad towards having more women in political positions and in addition a legislation that emboldens and embraces a population key to national development .

Ene Obi, Former Country Director, ActionAid Nigeria said the time is now for Nigeria to shun the issue of Godfatherism in politics and allow more women to participate in it

She said that, Godmothers’ mentorship series is an intergenerational mentorship initiative aimed at nurturing more women into leadership position in the country.

According to her, not enough women are in the leadership position in the country, and that this is so abysmal for a country like Nigeria known as giant of Africa which suppose to served as example to others in terms of politics.

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