As women worldwide celebrate the International Women’s Day, their counterparts in Plateau State have called for equal opportunity and gender balance to enable them contribute their quota effectively in building the society.
Speaking with newsmen in Jos, Helen Dabup, an elderly politician who is mentoring young women in politics, lamented the disadvantaged position that women are being relegated to and called for a change.
According to her, “25 years after signing the 1995 Beijing Platform of Action, not much has been achieved in the empowerment of women, raising their status and granting them equal opportunity to all spheres of life to realise their potential in our country. While more women have attained formal education and are engaged in economic ventures, the political sphere has remained dire.
“Indeed, we seem to have regressed in women political representation in the last 10 years. The 30 percent affirmative action as agreed by the UN and accented to by Nigeria is yet to be domesticated. It was raised to 35 percent by the 2006 National Gender policy, all to no avail. Currently we have only seven female Senators out of 109 and 11 female representatives out of 360 members. The political arena remains key because of the policies, projects and programmes that get implemented by political leaders.
“Remember the Plateau state has never had more than two women in its 24 member Assembly. Only one female from 2015-2020. In some States in Nigeria not even a single female.
Electoral violence and the commercialization of the process have kept many women away from full participation. Most women participate only as voters.
“Electoral violence must be punished and the cost of electioneering must be reduced to enable credible people, including women, participate fully. As at today, only PDP by its 2017 amended constitution has granted women 35 percent representation in the party, elective and appointive positions. This is a challenge for the other political parties. It also remains to be seen whether or not the women will seize the opportunity to get on board.”
Speaking on the way out, she added, “Equal opportunities should be given to all genders right from the family level to participate in household chores and acquiring formal and non formal education in order to realise their potential. Secondary socialising agencies like schools, religious institutions and the media, should be encouraged to train and project the females without biases and discrimination.
“The legislature should proceed to domestic all international protocols that protect and promote equal opportunities for all and criminalise failure to do so. The Federal Character Policy should include gender, the Electoral Act amendment should compel the political parties to include equality of genders in the party structure and in elections and appointments. Government responsibility for providing basic infrastructure like good roads, accessible quality education, power, health facilities and portable and clean water etc. are all necessary for the improvement of the well being of women and the society at large.
“If these infrastructure are accessible, it would reduce women’s labour and time so that they can channel their intellect and energies to other useful ventures. The financial inclusion of women in all economic ventures will empower women to improve on their family status and thus the entire society.
“#EachforEqual should not end with 2020 but should be a movement with each person regardless of gender, making a difference and improving on the protection and rights of the all genders, especially the female, who has hitherto been emasculated by culture and tradition. Every opportunity I get I use it to advocate for the protection and rights of women. It should be a movement so that generations to come will meet a more balanced world within which to function and give their best.”