By Samuel akin Fadipe
Dr Ajoritsedere Awosika, Chairman, Access Bank Plc, has called for the active participation of women in political leadership in other to move the nation forward.
Awosika made the call at the Vanguard International Women’s Day Conference held on Thursday at Radisson Blu, Victoria Island, Lagos.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the conference had the theme: “Walking The Talk: Towards a Gender Balanced Polity – The Time is Now”.
Awosika explained that leaving behind 50 per cent of women which constitutes the population of the country would translate to insignificant progresss and development of the nation.
“It is illogical to neglect women in decision making when they represent about 50 per cent of the population.
“At the moment, women represent about 49.3 per cent of the Nigeria population. Will any one say that is not a significant figure?
“Neglecting such number of your population in decision making will be at your own detriment because the level of progress will be very slow.
“What it means is that you have decided that this nation will not move forward. We therefore need a redistributive agenda which will help in leading to socio-economic development,” she said.
Awosika noted that as the next general election approaches in February 2023, Nigeria cannot afford to leave Women behind.
She said getting women into positions of political leadership should be prioritized and treated with urgency.
The Access Bank Chairman said that women are more positioned to lead than men, they just need to overcome biases against them.
“Women just need to overcome the systemic and cultural bias against them. They need to rise above that mental blockage and break through the glass ceiling. ”
“However, women will continue to face outrageous financial and social costs when they aspire to run for public office or succeed in obtaining leadership positions.
“You and I need to start the process. We understand the Bias. We also understand gender inequality and the drivers,”She said.
Similarly, Mrs Imaan Sulaiman-Ibrahim, Federal Commissioner, National Commission for Refugees, Migrants and Internally Displaced Persons said women in politics could change the nature of power and politics by bringing more accountable, collaborative, and transparent political practices.
The Commissioner noted that working across party lines in parliamentary women’s caucuses and championing issues of gender equality like ending Gender-Based Violence, childcare, pensions, gender-equality laws and electoral reform are some of the ways women demonstrate political leadership in politics today.
“To put it another way, women would bring a fresh perspective to politics and be more responsible in their use of power. It is in this way that women’s participation in politics may help to alter the world around them.
“Women should never hesitate for a moment, to work jointly to challenge injustice head on and establish an atmosphere for change.
“History has proven that women have, most of the times, drawn on the authority of combined action to alter the world,” she said
Sulaiman-Ibrahim noted that if women were to rule the world, everything would be different.
According to her, Politics would become more collaborative, businesses would become more successful or productive, and society would improve.
She said: “Women who actively participate in politics will make the world a better place. Therefore, the time for women to take their rightful place is now.”
Sen. Joy Emordi (Anambra North constituency), in 2005, advised intending female politicians to be persistent in mobilising people.
Emordi encouraged grassroots mobilisation adding that they must never be intimidated irrespective of whose ox wad gored .
” You must rally round support from both youths, men and women and note that position is not given on a platter of gold.
“Don’t ever feel because you are a woman you should relax, you must prove your worth because performance is everything and as a woman you must be everly ready to work extra mile,” she said.
The Senator who spoke on the theme: “Women Empowerment in Nigerian Politics and How We Have Fared” said to break the bias restricting women to participate in politics, women need to be involved in politics.
“Bias imposed on women by the society, stereotypes, patriarchal bias are caused by women themselves. Honestly, to be a senator from Anambra is not a child’s play. I am the first Igbo woman to be a senator from Anambra State.
The Senator recounted her ordeals while going into politics but explained that persistency and political will saw her through.
“When I started I was a reluctant politician, it was in 1994/ 1995 constitutional conference.
“Then I was still very young and then going for election, the women and the youths said they wanted me to contest, but we have this very strong Igbo organisation Ohaneze, they said I should not even try it.
“They said a woman should not even attempt that I will go to Abuja to be carrying hand bag up and down.
“But the youths and the women decided that I will contest. I didn’t even have the type of money my opponent had because they were supported by the rich men in Anambra State.
“But I was able to get the support of the youths and women. They helped me with mobilisation and fortunately I won,” she said.
A former Sports Journalist and Ogun Governorship hopeful, Mrs Modele Sharafa-Yusuf advised women to be confident in themselves and there should be a mind shift for women in politics.
She said women should not be discouraged to from political participation irrespective of culture or social backgrounds.
“Political parties should be restructured in ways that allow more women in leadership roles such as executive positions, party chairmen, governors and so on.