Chichi Aniagolu-Okoye, Oxfam country director, wants more Nigerian women to get involved in politics in order to provide more transformative leadership in the country
| By Ody Chukwube | Feb. 3, 2014 @ 01:00 GMT
OXFAM Novib, an international not-for-profit organisation, is trying to get more Nigerian women to take more than a passing interest in the 2015 general elections. Oxfam recently organised a stakeholders consultative forum on women’s political participation in Nigeria. The meeting, which held in Abuja, brought together civil society organisations, gender-based groups and other stakeholders who share common passion for increased women participation in the political process of Nigeria.
Women participation in Nigerian politics is deemed necessary because they constitute more than half of the population. But unfortunately they are under-represented in all the arms of government in the country. For instance, in all the 36 states of the federation, there is no female governor. There are also a few of them in the National Assembly. In the 100 years of Nigeria’s existence, there has not been a woman vice president not to talk of one becoming a president. Even in the various elective decision-making positions in the various sectors across the country women are not fully represented. Needless to say that this is telling on the country since women are not given the chance to contribute their quota to national development.
This must be why Chichi Aniagolu-Okoye , Oxfam country director in Nigeria, while declaring open the forum stated that Oxfam is leading the charge for increased women participation in politics because of its conviction that “women can provide the transformative leadership we seek in Nigeria”. Aniagolu-Okoye noted that the nation would not make the desired progress unless more women are brought to positions of authority in the country. She declared that the advancement of Nigeria is tied to increasing active women participation in the political process of the country.
“There will be no Nigeria without women. That is why women matter; because the very fabric of our society is held together by women. When a society, culture or government does not understand that, development is harder to achieve,” she said. The country director of Oxfam pointed out that the more political space being demanded for women “is not just because of Beijing or the African Charter on Women, it is because research after research, statistics after statistics shows that countries where women’s rights and freedom are recognised and protected and women are at liberty to exploit their full citizenship, fare better economically, politically, culturally and socially”.
She blamed to slow pace of Nigeria’s development on the absence of enough women in commanding heights of the nation’s legislative, judicial and executive arms of government.
Aniagolu-Okoye therefore urged Nigerian women to close ranks and work towards gaining more political visibility in the country. According to her, “women have to organise, mobilise, raise funds and most especially support each other.”