AFF: Promoting Gender Equality for Good Governance

The Akin Fadeyi Foundation, in partnership with the MacArthur Foundation, is prioritising gender, equality and social inclusion to enhance good governance and participation outcomes among girls and women in the country. Funmi Ogundare reports

The Akin Fadeyi Foundation recently commemorated the International Day of the Girl Child 2022 with a ‘What Women Can Do’ virtual competition aimed at showcasing the ability of women to proffer solutions to governance issues as a bolster to the quest for more gender-inclusive governance in Nigeria.

The competition, keenly contested by 15 female finalists drawn from the geo-political zones across the country, saw them pitching their ideas to judges who are also partners in the cause of sustainable development. They were selected from the 50 entries received by the foundation.

At the end of the debate, a female Law student of Babcock University, Bukunmi Abraham, emerged as the overall winner.​

Miss Oreoluwa Aladejuyigbe and Mariam Dauda Longe emerged second and ​third, respectively. Nnenne Chimdalu came fourth, while Rafat Salawudeen and Rachael Aina Oloye came in fifth and sixth positions, respectively.

Abraham received an iPhone 13 pro or its cash equivalent for her efforts. Aladejuyigbe won a shopping voucher of N500,000 or its cash equivalent, while Longe got a shopping voucher of N300,000 or its cash equivalent. Chimadalu, Oloye and Salawudeen went home with a cash prize of N150,000, N100,000 and N100,000, respectively.

The five-person panel of judges comprised the Country Director of Accountability Lab, Mr Odeh Friday, Adeola Fayehun, a journalist and socio-political satirist; Mrs Ramatu Umar-Bako, ​equality and diversity champion; and the Executive Director of Enough is Enough, Ms Yemi Adamolekun.

In his remarks, the Executive Director of the foundation, Mr Akin Fadeyi, expressed ​ delight about the competition, saying that since 2016 its inception, good and gender-inclusive governance has been one of its core focus areas. The competition is an offshoot of its earlier advocacy and intervention campaigns tagged, ‘Put on Your Thinking Cap’, ‘Gender Inclusive Governance’ media parley and various citizen interactive engagements for good governance.

​”This campaign became imperative following the statistics that women make up 47 per cent of the electorates that put men in office, yet the representation of women in elected offices has been on the decline. Therefore, Akin Fadeyi Foundation chose to create this platform to raise public consciousness about this imbalance and to introduce new voices in the narrative for more gender-inclusive governance,” he stated.

Special guest at the programme and Co-Director of the MacArthur Foundation, grantors of the Akin Fadeyi Foundation, Mr Kole Shettima said, “At the MacArthur Foundation, we have always upheld diversity, equity, and inclusion as an affirmation of our values. ​ Hence, we have always, therefore, been attentive to gender equality and equity in our engagements, recruitment and other spheres of our work.

Shettima added, “We prioritise diversity, equity, and inclusion and have always been enthusiastic to ensure Gender Equality and Social Inclusion (GESI) enhances our anti-corruption, accountability, transparency, and participation outcomes.”

Shettima,  noted that the foundation was trying to stimulate the energy of Nigerian women to envision a corrupt-free society as part of a strategic design template for governance.

“Having women lend their voices to what they will do against corruption if they have a shot at power, ​ is also very appropriate because corruption is the reason misappropriated funds leaves women vulnerable to the deficits occasioned by lack of the infrastructure or amenities that guarantee relative comfort for women more than men.”

He, however, expressed concerns about the drawbacks in the patriarchal-dominated political/governance environment, especially in Nigeria, saying that this is why the platform for women and girls is germane as we continue to raise the bar in gender inclusive or gender parity narratives.​

“While the prizes at stake incentivise voice action, the contestants present today should begin to embrace the bigger picture, which is how this exercise by one of our grantees, the Akin Fadeyi Foundation opens such vista for them to play a part in mainstreaming gender as a crucial theme in our nation’s policy formulation.”

​The Head of Programmes at Akin Fadeyi Foundation, Mrs Oluwatomi Okeowo, promised that the foundation has taken up the baton to push for good governance, and this can only be attainable when there is fairness in the level of gender representation in Nigeria’s governance structure. She, however, promised that until this cause is won, the foundation would continue to champion efforts like this.

Abraham ​thanked the Akin Fadeyi Foundation for the platform she was given for the amplification of her voice in the cause for gender-inclusive governance. She promised not to relent until the seemingly impossible task of having more women in governance is achieved. She also thanked her fellow contenders and enjoined them to keep the conversations alive in their respective spaces.

“I am an apt believer that the growth of Nigeria has been stifled by awful governance, and we are yet to scratch the surface of our potential as a country. People often underestimate the effects of bad leadership, so it is important that as we look for solutions, we consider that the leadership we seek as a nation is not limited by tribe, ethnicity and, most important, gender,” she explained. “The opportunities that allude women in Nigeria, particularly when it comes to leadership, is as a result of our lack of understanding as a people that a good leader lies in the quality of a person and not in their skirt or trouser.”​

Abraham added, “The ability of a person to inspire and advocate for change whilst proffering excellent solutions to support that change is what makes an excellent leader, and this view must be adopted by all Nigerians for us to reap the benefits of our land flowing with milk and honey.”

In her remarks, Miss Oreoluwa Aladejuyigbe said, “I’m optimistic that we can build a corrupt free gender inclusive relationship if we continue to educate the public about imbibing the right anti-corruption practices, maintain ethical standards in our public offices and strengthen our laws to discipline corrupt persons.”

The Senior Programme Officer, MacArthur Foundation, Dr Amina Salihu, expressed excitement that​ the ‘What Women Can Do’ finals coincided with the 2022 International Day of the Girl. She​ decried how the girl child had had to deal with the dynamics of politics of​ segregation right from birth and how this has negatively impacted her mentally and psychologically.​

She described the AFF​ finalists as amazons who have brought a spirit of positive competition to the table, especially as women have always been doing a lot but struggle with opportunities to demonstrate their importance and show their mettle.

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