Emmanuel Ugwu, Umuahia
As concerns grow over the non-inclusiveness of Nigerian women in leadership and political participation Alliance for Africa, a non-governmental organisation has taken steps to ginger girls and prepare them for future participation in the political space and to take up leadership positions.
The project known as ‘She Governs Campaign … Young Women in Political Space’ and supported by the United Nations Women Fund for Gender Equality is targeted at raising 210 girls across the five states of the South east zone to function effectively as political actors and leaders.
In Abia State, the NGO has already selected a number of girls for training and mentorship arousing their interest in political participation and positioning them for leadership roles in future.
At the interactive forum on leadership, political participation and personal development for young females held at the capital city of Umuahia, the selected girls with potential for leadership were taken through the role of women in politics, leadership and personal development by experts.
The girls were also instructed on the basic skills they need to excel in political and leadership positions.
Ihuoma Chidire, the legal officer of Alliance for Africa told THISDAY that the self development project for girls has been going over the past two years, adding that the training is targeted at girls between 18 and 35 years with manifest leadership potentials.
“We recognise that only women can represent themselves well. We need the young women to be actively involved in politics to replace the aging ones in politics and leadership positions,” she said.
According to her, women issues in Abia like in other states across the federation were not well represented, adding that it has reflected in the present political configurations where no female is among the 24-memebr Abia House of Assembly while in Imo only two women are in the 27-member House.
Chidire said that by raising the political consciousness of the young girls the much talked about 35 per cent affirmative action would be enhanced as both state and federal government were yet to domesticate the globally acclaimed convention.
She regretted that political structures and cultural issues have continued to hinder the participation of women in political leadership, noting that if women were excluded from membership of political parties they would neither participate nor aspire for political leadership.
The Alliance for Africa legal officer also stated that aside from raising girls for political participation and leadership the NGO was also involved in training and constant engagement of lawmakers and political leaders in the South East to make them drop their conservative attitude to gender inclusiveness in politics.
One of the participants at the forum, Miss Martha Agwu told journalists that the training programme was timely and beneficial to her, adding that what she learnt has “spurred me the more to have interest in politics”.