To protect the interests of women entrepreneurs who are now very vibrant in starting and running businesses and contributing significantly to national development, female entrepreneurs have called for more women participation in the planned national conference.
NECA’s Network of Entrepreneurial Women (NNEW), in conjunction with a coalition of women associations representing over 1.5 million members who are professionals and entrepreneurs in Lagos, recently urged the Federal Government to increase the number of women participants at the forthcoming national conference.
The women acknowledged the initiative of the Federal Government to convene the conference but frowned at the abysmally low number of positions specifically reserved for women nominees. Of the 492 delegates, only about 72 positions (14.6%) have been set aside for women, the women entrepreneurs noted.
According to Fayo Williams, first vice-president, NNEW and head of the association’s advocacy committee, the list of delegates excludes some critical interest groups where women are significantly represented, especially the entrepreneurs and the vast majority of enterprising women in the rural areas who do not belong to any formal groups but are engaged in various trades and vocations that contribute to enriching the Nigerian economy.
She said: “… the women believe that all effort must be made to ensure that the delegates’ structure is designed to foster adequate involvement as prescribed by the 1995 African Charter for Popular Participation in Development and Transformation.”
Speaking further, she said: “With the poor level of women’s representation at the conference, if the proposed 75 percent majority vote as the basis for decision making is sustained, the women of Nigeria are at great risk of being severely marginalised.”
Since the national conference is geared towards charting a new future for the Nigerian state, and that women constitute more than half of the country’s population, the women demand, among other things, equal representation of men and women at the conference or at the very least, a guarantee of 35 percent representation in accordance with the 1995 Beijing Declaration and the 2007 National Gender Policy, she said.