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National Convener of the Tinubu Awareness Movement (TAM) and former governorship aspirant on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Dr. Fatimah Abdullahi, has expressed worries over the continued decline in women participation in politics and governance in Nigeria, calling on the incoming administration at the federal level to arrest the situation.
The former wife of the National Chairman of the APC, Abdullahi Adamu, who was a governorship aspirant in Nasarawa State, spoke at a press conference in Lafia, the state capital on Thursday.
While making case for enhanced involvement of women in Nigerian politics and governance, Dr. Fatimah Abdullahi expressed concern over the low representation of women in governance irrespective of the country’s National Gender Policy which provides for 35% inclusion of the female folks in all appointments.
She cited data that showed a continuous decline in women’s participation in public governance, with only 17% of women in leadership positions at the national level from 41% between 2003 to 2007, and “between 2007 and 2011 it had plummeted to 29%. It further declined to 25% between 2011-2015, dropped 23% between 2015 and 2019 and is currently at 17%.”
According to Dr. Fatimah Abdullahi improved inclusion in public governance would ensure prudence, transparency, and empathetic leadership, leading to efficient and results-driven performances at all levels.
On the backdrop of the emergence of women in leadership positions at the just concluded 2023 presidential and National Assembly elections, ushering in the 10th National Assembly, she noted that “it is glaring that women’s participation in governance (elected or appointed) in Nigeria is grossly deficient when compared to other parts of the world.
“Nigeria’s National Gender Policy provides for the allocation of 35% of all appointments to women, the affirmative action.”
She insisted that the steady decline in women inclusion “is not a good omen for a country that has had over four transitions in leadership and plays a leadership role in Africa.
“Currently, it is very disheartening to discover that, of the 360 members of the House of Representatives in the just concluded election, only 13 are women, and out of 109 senators, only 2 are women.
“Similarly, in Nasarawa state today, no single woman is in the State House of Assembly. The percentage of women in leadership positions is grossly inadequate, considering that with a population of over 200 million, women in Nigeria constitute about 49.47%, according to the world bank.
“Going by the current trend of events, women are restricted from emerging as leaders whether elected or appointed.
“This is despite our proven abilities as leaders and agents of change and our right to participate equally in democratic governance.
“Several obstacles are faced by women in political life. Political marginalization, structural barriers, norms and cultures and a lack of agency are some of the challenges that limit women’s options to run for political offices, even though women are the most active members of the electorate.
“As democracy gets entrenched, it is expected that women’s’ emergence in leadership positions will widen but the contrary seems to be the case”, Dr Fatimah Abdullahi said.
Observing that Nigeria is fast losing out on the many benefits of having women participate in public governance, she stated that “there is an established and growing evidence that women’s role in political decision-making processes produces catalytic results, and in leadership roles, will close the gender parity gap.
“Our participation will guarantee prudent, transparent, and empathetic style and quality of leadership, that will birth efficiency and results-driven performances.
“In countries where women occupy key positions, excellence is recorded at unprecedented levels. Women are known for their patience, sincerity, and endurance in dealing with the dynamics of political offices which makes them suitable for leadership and political positions.
“Statistics have shown that for every 10% increase in gender diversity, earnings before interest and taxes rose by a glaring 3.5%.
“From this data, we can suppose that women leaders have measurable impact on an organizations’ bottom line.
“When women become leaders, they provide a diverse set of skills and perspective that will advance a country.
“More importantly, female leaders bring strong structural and cultural enrichment, which drives overall effective solutions.
“This clearly demonstrates that the need for female leaders has never been more critical at this stage in our dear nation. When we consider the unending catalogue of data that supports this claim, it simply doesn’t seem right that there are so few women in leadership”, she said.
Tasks Tinubu On Decline
Dr. Fatimah Abdullahi then tasked the incoming administration at the federal level, saying, “To this end, we call on Mr. President-elect, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, to bridge this huge existing gap made more glaring by the outcome of the national assembly elections, by appointing more women in leadership and decision-making positions.
“Mr. President-elect should, as a matter of priority, deliberately consider more women in ministerial positions and as heads of agencies and parastatals of government, to encourage Nigerian women in realizing our full potentials.
“Mr. President-Elect should keep to international commitments to women’s representation as stated in the United Nations Programme, the Beijing Platform for Action, The Millennium Development goals and the Sustainable development goals that all seek to eliminate all forms of discrimination against women, uphold women’s rights to participate in public life, remove barriers to equal participation and progress towards gender equality, measured in part by the proportion of women in parliamentary seats.
“It should be the topmost priority of this administration to support women in all ramifications to ensure fair access to the political sphere-as voters, candidates, as appointed and elected officials.
“We equally call on the leadership of the national assembly to consider in its future amendments, a legislative candidate quota for the female gender, to further encourage women participation in politics and governance.
“Such an act will provide for women, the desired level playing field needed to unlock opportunities and embrace our capacity and capabilities.
“In the same vein, we passionately call on the national working committee of our great party, the APC, to join in encouraging the President-elect and the 10th Assembly and call all Governors to be elected on the 18th of March 20203, to support the female gender in providing commensurable space within the political firmament considering the huge sacrifices made by women during these electoral processes and beyond”, Dr. Fatimah Abdullahi said.