It has taken women a long time to participate in governance. However, there is a handful of women in key position in the corporate world. This poor representation has partially led to women being perceived as second class citizens in the society.
However, Pan African Women Development Foundation (PAWDF), a non-governmental organisation based in Ghana, is seeking to join other organisations with similar vision to fight this age-long battle against female inequality. The PAWDF has helped various African women to fight against inequality in the workplace. So far, they have supported over a 120 female groups that support women to take part in governance, and not just take part as supporters or voters, but also encourage them to contest for positions. They have given about $2.7 million to different groups in Nigeria.
One of the ways the foundation is supporting women in Nigeria is through the Ajegunle Community Project (ACP), a group it formed to educate women on governance and politics, teach them what they are meant to know, empower them and support them to take or run for positions in government. They have organised seminars, talks and group meetings to interact with females from different communities in the country in addition to Ajegunle, a suburb in the Lagos metropolis.
The name – Ajegunle Community Project is not all about Ajegunle, but the meaning behind it is grass root. That is, they go to the depth of different communities and reach out to the women there, educate them on their rights concerning politics and let them know that it is not only for the males. They support women who aspire to get into politics in Delta and Lagos states, but have been able to reach out to women in other parts of the country.
This group does not only want to vote women into all seats of power, but also wants to enable them gain from the person in power after they vote you in. They want a way the women are going to be empowered by people in power after voting them in, not just abandoning or neglecting them after elections, as they have been doing.
The ACP has been able to relate with females, and so far they know their rights as women, and even to be able to choose to support the right candidate for the position should not be based on bribe. The women have been able to do well for themselves, occupy some positions and have sent good feedback of how well they are doing for the communities they have reached.
Olusola Akia, executive director, ACP, says the idea behind this project is to help women discover who they are, noting “we find out a lot of women are not being represented in decision making in Nigeria, we decided to carry out a research on it and organised projects to address that issue in other to affect women.
“We carry out our projects in patriarchy areas where there is violence and discrimination against women and the girl child; the other one is on democracy and governance, while the other one is on empowerment. Under empowerment we have skill acquisition, we have micro-credit, because we found out that a lot of women are poor, so we need to create an avenue where the women can be assisted when they want to embark on a small-scale business. We equally give support services like free legal aids.”