Ensuring Women Inclusiveness in Governance

The foot had long taken a staggering stance. The audible breath for all-round inclusion of women in the running of things generally has come a long way. No doubt, the fierce revolutionary struggle for women’s political, cultural, social and educational rights has come a full circle.

Manifold capacity has been shown by different calibre of women in Nigeria and beyond in a bid to prove their mettle in leadership capacities.

Similarly, women are rising daily against the open and secret hostilities meted on fellow women and the madcap suppression of women’s basic rights and privileges obtainable from time immemorial up untill now.

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While women in other climes are grossly being denied basic human rights such as the right to vote and be voted for, for instance; others are oppressively deprived the freedom to choose their choice candidates and independently bare their views on critical political matters, no thanks to repugnant laws, culture and archiac mentality which puts the final say on the male gender.

The situation is not strange in Nigeria where women face stiffer opposition and obstruction in their bid to vote or be voted into political offices.
In terms of wielding political appointments to women, Nigeria is yet to raise the bar; women in Nigeria have not only been robbed of their dazzling political presence but also had their political strength put under siege.

According to data compiled by the Inter- Parliamentary Union(IPU), released on January, 2021, Nigeria ranks 180 of 198 countries in the world in representation of women at the Parliament. A breakdown of this data shows that, at the last House of Representatives election which held on February, 2019, of the 360 seats in the lower chamber, only 21 seats have been occupied by women, amounting to 5.8% representation of the feminine gender in the House.

At the Senate, of the 109 seats in the upper chamber, only 8 seats are occupied by women, amounting to 7.3% representation of women.

Here is another fact to look at. Ministers of the Federal Republic of Nigeria are nominated by the President and approved by the Nigerian Senate. A peep into the current cabinet of the Muhammadu Buhari led administration shows that, of the 44 Federal Ministers; Minister of Petroleum inclusive, 37 are men and 7 are women. By the foregoing, the seven women represent 15.91% and the thirty-seven men represent 84.1%. in the current cabinet. Many questions bugging my mind. Going by this poor representation of women in the cabinet, is President Buhari indirectly signaling Nigerians that most women are intellectually deficient, weaklings and incapable of to saddling the affairs of 15 to 20 ministries? Or is this to buttress the president’s strong view of women’s place being the kitchen?

Another worrisome and heartbreaking tale about the feminine gender in Nigeria is the triviality accorded female education.

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A case in point is the Northern part of the country where female children are not allowed by their parents and so-called early marriage culture to access western education despite the fact that education is free in government owned secondary schools. It is really appalling to discover that a good fraction of female children in Northern Nigeria especially those in interior villages cannot even speak as well as understand the official English language. Because the teenage children end up being dumped in a man’s house in the name of marriage, they can’t intellectually compete anywhere. Sadly, some happen to live and die within the ambit of their community and village without exploring other local governments in their states or outside their state.

According to information on literacy rate by zone and gender as complied by statista in 2018, out of 100% literacy rate amongst male and female in the North, North Central recorded 72.9% for male and 49.6% for female; North East recorded 50.5% for male and 31.8% for female; and North West recorded 59% for male and 29% for female. This data underscores the low standing and retardation of female education in that region.

Do you also know that it doesn’t even stop at acquiring quality education alone? Are you aware that to some extent, one’s acquisition of quality education no longer counts? There are intellectually sound women in Nigeria who’ve been denied their rights of being gainfully employed. Why? In our clime, women are seen as sex objects and to be gainfully employed, most often than not, their supposed male employers demand sex for job.

Frankly, Nigeria is a dangerous terrain for the feminine gender. According to data published by World Economic Forum, Nigeria ranks 128th of 153 countries in Global Gender Gap Index 2020. This is an eye opener to the deep-seated gender inequality in Nigeria.

American Writer, Frederick Douglass once said, “if there is no struggle, there is no progress.”

International Organizations, women activists, Human Rights Groups and individuals generally have overtime risen to demand for gender equality in Nigeria because what’s good for the goose is good for the gander.

Some of them like the UN Women, Association for Work Rights in Development, PLAN International, Women for Women International, Equality Now, Global Fund for Women, Amnesty International, Women’s Right Advancement And Protection Alternative, Women’s Consortium of Nigeria, Nigerian Chapter of the International Federation of Women Lawyers, Feminist Coalition, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala Damilola Odufawa, Odunayo Eweniyi, Martha Udom Emmanuel, Emem Ette, Mary-Grace Enyong, Itohowo Aniekan Bassey etc have had strong says on this subject matter overtime.

As women over the globe celebrate the International Women’s Day today, 8th March, 2021 with the theme choose to challenge, it is pertinent to applaud these International Organizations, Women Activists, Human Rights Groups and individuals forging for the reign of gender equality and respect for women’s rights.

As women today take counts of their achievements and setbacks in the fight against gender equality and other unwholesome violence against women, Government at the national, state and local level should not just pay lip services in their support to women but determine, henceforth, to bridge the gender gap through more inclusion of women in politics.

They should place top priority on female education through instituting women friendly educational policies and making tangible budgetary allocation for education.

Government should take practical steps to end unhealthy cultural, religious, economical and social practices detrimental to women.
These would ensure an overwhelming and balanced society where everyone is made to contribute their quota for all-round success.

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