Nigeria has made several efforts to ensure the participation of women in governance through the adoption and creation of some institutions to that effect. However, the question here is, are these institutions and agencies fully implementing the charters and treaties to their logical conclusion?
Even with the affirmative action of 35 percent representation of women in political and non-elective positions in Nigeria, the number of women in the legislative houses is not encouraging as a result of the patriarchal dominance in Nigeria.
In the elective positions in Nigeria since 1999, it is evident that women have not reached 10 percent representation. From 1999 till date, no woman has been vice president of Nigeria, let alone president.
In 2011, only one woman contested for the post of the president in Nigeria on the platform of the People’s Democratic Party and she did not survive the primary election. She got only one vote despite the large number of women that attended the convention and participated in the primary election.
In 2015, five women out of the 14 persons contested the vice presidential position while 14 men contested the post of president.
Out of the 109 Senate members in Nigeria, women were seven in 1999, four in 2003, nine in 2007, seven in 2011 and seven in 2015. In the House of Representatives, out of the 360 members in 1999, seven were women, while in 2003 21 were women, 27 in 2007 and 25 in 2011 and 14 in 2015. No woman governor since 1999 till date apart from when the former governor of Anambra State, Peter Obi was removed from office for one month and as soon as he won his case through the courts, the woman governor stepped down to her deputy position.
Out of the 990 seats in the State houses of assembly in Nigeria, in 1999 there were 24 women, 40 in 2003, 57 in 2007 and 68 in 2011 the local government councils that are closer to the people, in 1999, out of the 774 councils 13 are women, 18 in 2003, and 27 in 2011. The councillorship position is where some women are compensated. Even at that the number of women that are councillors are still less than 30 percent of the total number of councillors in Nigeria. Out of the 6368 councillorship seats, 69 were women in 1999, 276 in 2003, and 235 in 2011.
BDSUNDAY spoke to some women to get their views on women inclusion in governance and other positions of leadership.
I am of the opinion that excellence does not discriminate, hence, I believe in giving the job to the best hand, either male or female. However, looking at the Nigerian context, a barricade appears to have been set for women especially in politics and governance. One only needs to look at the number of elected officers in the national and state houses of assembly and other elective government position to conclude that women are being shut out of leadership positions in the country.
If it were to be that there were no qualified women out there, that would be a different case, but Nigeria parades a handful of bright and intelligent women who can hold their own anywhere in the world. I daresay that the reason Nigeria is still toeing a path of retrogression owes to the fact that women of noble character and intellectual capacity are shut out of active participation in the political affairs of this country through man-made factors.
A woman is a nurturer by nature, so it stands to prove that women are born ready for leadership and responsibilities. Until Nigeria rises to remove some of the barricades limiting women from active participation in governance, then we may continue to toe the path of retrogression.
For every successful man there must be a woman. It also goes down to our society for every society to be better and successful there has to be woman in the affairs to see to the wellbeing of that society. Because naturally, we have been given the gift of being able to manage whatever we have at hand. I strongly believe that if Nigeria can entrust some vital positions to women, the country will be a better place.
We must change and turn the tide in this direction. We cannot continue with this low level of participation. I think now is the right time we begin to demand from political parties and candidates to tell Nigerians what their policy is on gender affirmation.
Women inclusion is not just by pen and paper; we must trust that inclusion also means women that are disabled. Because everybody has a role to play, and giving a level playing ground brings out the best in all of us for our society, blind or not.
The idea of including more voices and inclusion in politics is very good. It’s more of accepting other voices and looking into violence against women in politics though I appreciate that a lot is being done. It could be better if we can start putting many other things into practice.
We have a whole lot of women across Nigeria who can do so much better than what we are offered now; the issue is that we are not being given the opportunity. Men are still operating the culture that women are meant to be seen and not heard. Since 2006, Nigeria’s National Gender Policy highlights women’s right to equality in economic, social and political life, with provisions to increase women in elected and appointed positions to 35 percent but that hasn’t happened.
It is not just by implementing a law that satisfies the inclusion of women but I will strongly say that women must believe in themselves. They must be prepared because it’s not easy.