…only 2.7% of the Senate and 4.7% of the House of Representatives are women
The Women in Successful Careers (WISCAR), a non-profit organisation focused on empowering and developing professional women to contribute to development and growth in Nigeria and indeed Africa has frowned at women’s low representation in the country’s legislation.
Amina Oyagbola, founder and chairperson of WISCAR made this known at the 2023 annual leadership and mentoring conference of the organisation held at the MUSON Centre, Onikan-Lagos recently.
Oyagbola in her address at the 15th anniversary of WISCAR with a theme: “In Her Own Voice: Forging Ahead”, said it is unfortunate that women are not given enough political space in Nigeria, as only Ireti Kingibe, among all the female candidates supported by the organisation made it to the Senate.
“We must note the stark reality of the dismal level of female representation in the legislative bodies, both federal and state. In the 10th Assembly, women hold a mere 2.7 percent of senate seats (3 out of 109 seats), and 4.7 percent of House of Representatives seats,” she noted.
Furthermore, she said; “Over seven general election cycles since 1999, the number of women in the senate has dropped to what it was at Nigeria’s return to democracy in 1999.
With the current figures for the 10th Assembly, Nigeria remains at the bottom of the ranking for the number of women in the African Parliament. Sadly, no woman at all was elected in 15 out of Nigeria’s 36 State Houses of Assembly.”
She however applauded the effort and courage of Hawwah Gambo, Joyce Daniels, Adeola Azeez, Simi Olusola, and Aisatu Binani, among othersfor stepping forward to contest the polls.
Oyagbola revealed that the theme of the conference was borne out of the fact after all the disputes and contentions over the 2023 elections, it is now time to unite and forge ahead.
“As with all elections, there are always those who feel they or their candidates ought to have won. All those interested can come back for the 2027 polls. We must now unite as a nation and forge ahead,” she said.
She reiterated that the fundamental lesson to learn from the situation is that politics cannot be an occasional affair. Hence, women who wish to succeed in polls must commence preparation very early.
“Indeed, the time to start working towards the 2027 polls is now. We must stand in solidarity behind the female candidates,” she noted.
Amina Mohammed, deputy secretary-general of the United Nations and chair of the United Nations Sustainable Development Group in her remarks applauded WISCAR for its efforts in empowering and developing the female gender in the continent, especially in Nigeria.
“Your leadership has been exceptional, in 2020, even amid the Covid-19 pandemic, you sought the collaboration of the United Nations to initiate a Nigerian – nation’s Beijing +25 intergenerational mentorship programme,” she noted.
Mo Abudu, an award-winning media mogul and entrepreneur, who was the keynote speaker, in her impactful address, shared insights on the importance of amplifying women’s voices in leadership.
“In a world where diversity drives innovation, it is essential to recognise and elevate the unique voices of women.
WISCAR’s commitment to ‘Forging Ahead’ is a commendable effort toward creating a more inclusive and equitable future,” she said.
She went on to share in her voice her story; the challenges, breakthroughs, and lessons learned along the way.
Besides, she reminded the audience that “if you can think it, you can do it!”, and to always plan and be prepared.
Beatrice Eyong, the resident representative of UN Women, Nigeria in her goodwill message encouraged the women to distinguish themselves and discover their identities and talents.
“Any successful person knows that you have to forge ahead with some people. You need to value your voice and find your identity, and talents as you forge ahead.
Your voice echoes louder as you excel. Your excellence is what makes your voice louder,” she said.
One of the highlights of the event is the announcement of Folake Owodunmi, the chief executive officer and co-founder of Emergncy Response Africa as the winner of the 2023 Professor Grace Alele-Williams Alumni Impact Award.