The focus on how to position women for leadership and effective political participation dominated discussions at a Media Women Forum workshop on â€œMobilising Women for Politicsâ€ held in Lagos recently. All the guest speakers and panel of discussants called on Nigerian women to be effectively involved and participate in politics.
The ex KOWA party presidential election candidate, Prof. Remi Sonaiya, said â€œsome men feel that having women in leadership positions will be achieved at their own expense, so that brings a certain degree of resistanceâ€. She said women should rise above any form of discouragement and strive to make a difference.
Public affairs officer, United States Consulate general, Darcy Zotter gave an illuminating into the struggle of women in politics in the United States, the progress made over the years, and how this can influence women in politics in Nigeria. â€œWe recognise that first and foremost Women are not encouraged to run. More so women rights is human rightâ€, she said.
Hajia Adiza Umoru, who shared Zotterâ€™s view, she said women are not encouraged. â€œGiven the 35 per cent affirmative action for women in Nigeria seems to be abandoned. The policy demands 35 per cent involvement in all governance process.â€
Umoru lamented that Nigerian women are obviously marginalised in the democratisation process, saying that in spite of the fact that many women are literate, they still hold less than five per cent of important decision making positions in the country.
Statistics show that women are grossly underrepresented in the Legislative and Executive arms of Government across the country. For instance out of 109 senators only nine are women while at the House of Representatives 27 out of 360 members are women.
Remi Adikwu said that there is a clear lopsided membership of Legislatives in favor of Men, she charged more Women to become effectively involved in politics.
Publicity Secretary of Afenifere, Yinka Odumakin, also believes that women should actively be involved in politics and position themselves for leadership roles.
Member of the panel of discussion, Victor Okhai asked women to wake the cause of women by motivating, sensitising and creating adequate awareness for women to take leadership positions.
Media Women Forum was established to champion the cause of women, motivate them to be active agents of change in their communities and empower women live quality lives.
The forum encourages government and individuals to take positive actions on issues affecting women. It is largely made up of female media executives who hold decision making positions and seasoned broadcasters.