By: Augustus Bill
In a clear illustration of elegance and apt decorum the Leaders of National Democratic Institute (NDI), today, in Awka organized a stakeholders meeting with weathered women in Anambra State to discuss the importance of Women in Politics (WiP) and chart a new path towards a strong actualization of the cause.
The meeting which was held at Royal Garden Hotel and convened by Halima Abubakar the program manager for the Institute created a serene avenue for discussions on the importance and implications of Women in Politics. As several corporate bodies, political parties and civil society Organizations were availed the opportunity to share their views.
Delivering her keynote address, the Dean of Social Sciences, Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Prof Stella Okunna highlighted the impairments that have kept the activities of women in politics very invisible. According to the professor of Communication, she said that women are smart and very active in politics, as they lead the campaigns, singing and dancing during campaigns but have still remained invisible when it comes to elections and appointments.
She said that a research carried out by her team few years ago had placed the number of registered women voters in the state over the men, and that gives them the electoral power of numbers to win elections, but it is disheartening that even women do not support their fellow women as they aspire for political positions.
Okunna, advised that women can no longer continue hoping on Appointments because the men are not ready to appoint them and no man would love a woman enough to raise female issues above male ones in any legislative process. She stated that the only way for women to be active in politics is to contest in elections, since they can control elections but not appointments.
Adding her voice to the discussions, the program Manager for National Democratic Institute, Halima Abubakar, stated that women are already doing a lot in politics, but there is no awareness or media coverage for these achievements as opposed to the media coverage and dominance their male counterparts receive. This has prompted her Institute into engaging the media to portray the works of these women and their achievement in politics.
She also hinted that the initiative of Women in Politics would work closely with religious and traditional institutions, as they are part of the institutions that deter women from active participation in politics.
Dr. Ojiako Uche who represented Rt. Hon. Rita Maduagwu, the Speaker of Anambra State Assembly, advised women to build on their values, as such values are the biggest virtues they need to conquer in the realm of politics.
Aisha Edward, a moral crusader and coordinator of Persons Living with Sickle Cell Disorder was not left out as she strongly worded that women should not be cajoled into believing that their roles ends in the kitchen and other room as already trending in some quarters, after all it is in the same kitchen that they prepare the recipe for the men, as such not a bad idea that the women are there, and that doesn’t take the power away from them, rather it silently empowers them more. She said that though she believes that women has roles in those spheres, that they still have much bigger roles to play in politics like the likes of Late Dora Akunyili, Oby Ezekwesili, Okonjo Iweala and many others. She acknowledged the triumph of Anambra State in giving women voice in politics, but she also admonished that as much as the women find themselves in politics they should also ensure the security of their family and children, as they are their treasure not their pockets. Aisha stated that it is not about how many women in politics but the values these women impact in those positions.
Hon. Beverly Nkemdiche Ikpeazu confirmed that the program wouldn’t have come at a better time than now, as it was already imperative that women began seeing themselves ready for political positions, other than just side line supporters.
Other personalities who added their voice to the discussion included The Secretary of Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) Anambra chapter, PPA State Chairman, Comr. Mathias Ameke, Alex Obi of Labour Party, Representative of the Traditional Institution, Igwe Elias Nneli, APGA, ASATU, Mrs Appolonia Chukwuma, Director Awka Diocesean CWO, and other civic society organizations.
The event was organised by Women in Politics (WIP), National Democratic Institute (NDI) in collaboration with Civil Resource Development and Documentation Centre Nigeria (CIRDDOC) Nigeria and funded by Department of International Development (DFID).