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Political Parties In Nigeria And Women Leadership

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In Nigeria, the startling statistics of women’s performances at every poll at elections are a thing that needs be seriously addressed and urgently too. Rwanda has nearly conquered this problem of gender parity, recording 40% women representation in their Parliament, South Africa has 50% women in the Cabinet.
Women leadership in political parties is a very important and critical issue as regards remediating women’s hopelessness in every political party power-sharing processes. These women leaders are the entry points or gate-keepers in political parties and so are very strategic for women participation in politics. Unfortunately, most of the women who had held the position so far had failed the women as they have not adequately represented the women.
This is one of the reasons why women have often recorded abysmal results at every elections. At the last concluded elections, the story is not different. Only 7 (seven) women out of 109 composition in the Senate and about 36 women out of 360 at the House of Representatives made it at the polls. This is way down from what obtained at the previous elections.
In Rivers State, no woman in the State House of Assembly, one woman Deputy Governor, three Commissioners out of 23. These scores can never make for good representation for women in politics even in another generation if steps are not taken to correct the trend.
The role of women leadership in political parties is not well conceived by the occupiers of those positions. There is therefore, the urgent need to illuminate on what actually a woman leader in a party should buy herself on and so make the position worth-its –while for women’s progress in the political development and empowerment of the teeming and willing female political population who remain perpetually on the back seats in the political boats.
The role of women leaders in political parties are multi-faceted. They include among others; mobilization, advocacy for women issues, help in legislation of women issues, raising funds for women political participation, economic empowerment of women, involvement in peace process in the party, environment protection collaboration with other stakeholders, monitoring and evaluating programmes for women development and participation in politics.
Women leaders in political parties it has been discovered, have only been able to accomplish just one out of the myriads of functions in the leadership of their organizations. They are still great mobilisers we agree. But mobilization is just one of the functions of leadership in a political party. These women busy themselves on mobilizing women for the benefit of men who are aspiring to hold great political positions. Women leaders in this country busy themselves in cheering men into positions of authority, cook their food and make them (the men) generally comfortable. Women leaders should know that their role of mobilizing is also to position women who desire and deserve to sit on positions of authority in the party and by extension in power-sharing in the polity of the country. As gate-keepers, women leaders must change their dance steps and see to it that women record successes in the polls.
Women leaders must pioneer advocacies on women power sharing in the party and placement of deserving women in decision-making positions from local government, state, and at the national level including the welfare of women in the party.
They must work with other women, organizations or seasoned women leaders in the state by way of networking with them to achieve women’s goals and purposes in the country. Here the Women Affairs Ministry both at the national and state levels must join hands with the women leaders like the NCWS, the great umbrella for women organization in Nigeria to boost women issues.
Being the egg-head of women participation in parties. Women leaders must with the help of other organizations, like FIDA, National Council of Women Societies (NCWS) and other vibrant women organizations push those debilitating laws and cultural practices that harm women’s development for legislation in the state Houses of Assembly. They must make sure more women are voted into the state House of Assembly and at the National Assembly. By so doing, it is obvious women’s issues when brought to the Houses of Assembly for debate would make easy passage in their deliberations.
Another role of women leaders in the party is to organize programmes for raising funds for effective women’s participation in politics. We are all aware that men have a way of supporting each other financially and otherwise but women lack this aspect of working for other women to succeed. This is a habit the women leaders of this post millennium must imbibe and transmit to their followers.
We are all too familiar with the way and manner the men go about empowering their fellow men. There is a male commissioner in one state who made his male personal assistant a commissioner in that same state which woman leader has done that?
Perhaps women would argue they are not too rich to empower their fellow women. This is true to some extent, but if women leaders can formulate programmes and projects using their parties as platforms, this goal could be achieved easily. If proposals on economic empowerment of women are well written, well-articulated and forwarded to the party hierarchy, I am sure if six proposals are sent across, there is every likelihood that two or three of these proposals would scale through. This will no doubt empower a crop of women who are well positioned to contest in any elections.
Since development can only come when there is peace in any organization, the woman-leader there to make in the various sectors of the party with her team of followers. Most times the gladiators (male of course) in the party fight themselves out leaving the women and their issues to the back burner. Women leaders must initiate peace building amongst warring factors in the party.
Women leaders must not restrict their activities to only political matters. They must go beyond politics and see to their ailing environments. Women leaders must engage their followers in clean-up exercises around the party, state, etc. if there are oil spillages and toxic wastes in their environment, they must be part of the solution to such problems in their localities. This makes them to be recognized persons in the community all the time and would be called up for other or higher responsibilities in the community.
As a matter of obtaining absolute effectiveness to pursuing women’s issues to the front burner, there must be a tripartite arrangement, the governor’s wife, the Ministry of Women Affairs and the woman leader. The three must work together on the various programmes and projects.
The woman-leader who is a grassroots person, could set the agenda for programme formulation. She will first of all identify the women’s problems, and then formulates the programme which will be brought to the notice of the wife of the Governor and the Ministry of Women’s Affairs for discussion. With these three working together with one voice and committed to changing the hopeless situation of women, they can achieve a lot in the shortest possible time. As the saying goes, there is strength in collectivity and two heads are better than one. Any of the programmes could be initiated by any of the three persons mentioned above. The bottom line is if the trio could work committedly there will not be any friction amongst them. Each will need the other to let the boat sail to shore.
Very importantly, projects and programmes monitored and evaluated periodically to assess the rate of success of each programme and adjust with new strategies whenever, to obtain maximum result.
In conclusion, women leadership in political parties is critical and must be seen as a great opportunity for rendering a service to the impoverished, rejected, dejected and voiceless women in the community. The woman leader is a rallying point for women.
Nimi Thom-Manuel is a social critique in Port Harcourt.

 

Nimi Thom-Manuel

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COVID-19: Be Creative In Foods, Others’ Packaging, Women

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Women have been admonished to be creative and begin to do proper packaging of foods and other household consumables and products for sales in the markets or to targeted customers in order to attract good patronage, especially at this critical time when the novel Coronavirus is ravaging the world.
They were also told that they would only attract customers and get constant calls for home deliveries if they observe best practices, and ensure that due protocols in personal hygiene were adhered to at all times.
Speaking during a recent programme organised by Kebetkache Women Development and Resource Centre, in Port Harcourt, the Permanent Secretary, Rivers State Ministry of Women Affairs, Mrs Uche Chukwu said that part of ways to cushion the sufferings of women, especially those that were bread-winners was for them to do proper product sales packaging in efforts to boost market penetration and increase customer confidence.
Chukwu stressed that women were most hit by the COVID-19 lockdown because they form the bulk of traders and small business owners, saying that following the shutdown of most markets across the country, women were facing severe stress in meeting their expectations and needs, just as their revenue earnings have plummeted.
She regretted that most devastated by the lockdown were those, who were not ready to explore other means of survival, and were not ready to tap into their creative and innovative skills to design new ways of adapting to meet their customers’ changing demands and expectations, emphasising that with proper sales packaging, no woman would be affected by the COVID-19 lockdown.
Chukwu advised women managing restaurants, food-is-ready, or food vendors in markets and shops to take full advantage of the lockdown to expand their network of customers or delve into other meaningful ventures to feed their families.
While listing some of the ventures they can delve into as cooking of all kinds of food, production of hand sanitisers, soaps, face masks, and other household items, added that, “with a sachet of Hypo mixed with detergent, hand sanitiser can be made.”
The permanent secretary further explained that the hand sanitiser can be used for washing of hands, mopping of floors as well as wiping of doors, windows, and cleaning of tables, among others, adding that women should not dwell on the challenges, but device ways out of the situation in order to be able to put food on the table for their children.
The woman activist stressed that women were psychologically prepared to package foods properly at home, and smartly distribute and sell same to those in dire need without flaunting the COVID-19 lockdown regulations.
She said: “Women must engage in other meaningful ventures during this period of COVID-19 lockdown in order to avoid harassment and abuse by security operatives deployed to enforce the law. It is too painful to hear that women are being de-humanised by police officers, but there is nothing women activists and groups can do when they flaunt COVID-19 lockdown law.
“There are high demands now on hand sanitisers and face masks. Women should make proper use of this opportunity to think outside the box and start preparing hand sanitisers and cook neatly packaged food for sale since there is hunger all over the land. Those who cannot cook good food can use their money to place orders from others who are endowed for home delivery without violating COVID-19 regulations,” she stressed.
Earlier, the Executive Director, Kebetkache Women Development and Resource Centre, Mrs Emem Okon, had stressed the need for the centre to mainstream COVID-19 into its programme of activities.
Okon added that by so doing, the centre would be able to address some of the immediate and long-term needs of the people of Rivers State, stressing that the government alone cannot do everything for the people.

 

By: Susan Serekara-Nwikhana

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COVID-19: Women Front And Centre

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One thing is clear about the COVID-19 pandemic, as stock markets tumble, schools and universities close, people stockpile supplies and home becomes a different and crowded space: this is not just a health issue. It is a profound shock to our societies and economies, exposing the deficiencies of public and private arrangements that currently function only if women play multiple and underpaid roles.
With children out of school, mothers at home may still work, but many have also become teachers and caregivers, with consequences for those previously employed in those roles. For the 8.5 million women migrant domestic workers, often on insecure contracts, income loss also affects their dependents back at home. As schools close in more countries, the number of mothers facing this across the world rises and the consequences accumulate.
By the middle of March there were 207,855 confirmed cases in 166 countries, areas or territories. Without data that is disaggregated by sex, however, these numbers give us only part of the story of the impact on women and men. We need far more sex-disaggregated data to tell us how the situation is evolving, including on differing rates of infection, differential economic impacts, differential care burden, and incidence of domestic violence and sexual abuse.
Even without this, experience from previous major epidemics points us to specific strengths and vulnerabilities that we can look out for and be proactive to safeguard. Where governments or businesses put income protection in place, this can ease these dilemmas, sustain incomes and avoid driving households into poverty. This response must also include those in the informal economy, where most women who work outside home make their livelihood. Such social protection is best directed specifically to women.
The 2014-16 Ebola outbreak in the West African countries provide essential, gendered public health and socioeconomic lessons. Women in those outbreaks were exposed to both health and economic risks, as they are again now, in ways intrinsically connected with their roles in the community and responsibilities as caregivers within the home and family.
For example, both Ebola and Zika infections are potentially catastrophic for pregnant women. Yet during both previous outbreaks, access to family planning services were very limited, and pregnant and lactating women were excluded from vaccination against the viruses. This underlines the importance of sustained maternal health services to avoid a resurgence of birth-related deaths, and equal access for women to the development and use of all medical products including vaccines once produced.
This is a moment for governments to recognize both the enormity of the contribution women make and the precarity of so many. This includes a focus on sectors where women are over-represented and underpaid, such as daily wage earners, small business owners, those working in cleaning, caring, cashiering and catering sectors and in the informal economy.
Globally, women make up 70 per cent of frontline workers in the health and social sector, like nurses, midwives, cleaners and laundry workers. We need mitigation strategies that specifically target both the health and economic impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak on women and that support and build women’s resilience, as we saw in Liberia and elsewhere. And to make those responses as well designed as possible, women should be fully engaged in their creation, be priority recipients of aid, and partners in building the longer-term solutions.
We are learning more every day from the arc of the pandemic in China. We have been working closely there with country leadership as part of the UN collective response. Joint campaigns have reached 1 billion people, with communications that raise awareness through public health information, combat stigma and discrimination, reflect women’s specific needs, promote women’s leadership and contributions and develop recovery plans that link equality, health and the economy.
All of us engaged in this effort, whether public or private sector, need to take a coordinated, people-centred approach to rapidly building health system capacity in both developed and developing countries, making a conscious effort to put women front and centre. For example, creating better access to appropriate personal protective equipment for home-based caregivers, and removing obstacles to their work, by promoting flexible working arrangements, and ensuring supplies of menstrual hygiene products. These needs are even more important for areas under lockdown or quarantine. So too are considerations of gender-based violence that are exacerbated by these conditions, but may not receive the attention they need, in the drive to respond to the pandemic.
Violence against women is already an epidemic in all societies, without exception. Every day, on average, 137 women are killed by a member of their own family. We also know that levels of domestic violence and sexual exploitation spike when households are placed under the increased strains that come from security, health and money worries, and cramped and confined living conditions. We see this frequently among displaced populations in crowded refugee camps; and reported domestic violence has tripled recently in some countries practising social distancing.
COVID-19 provides us with an opportunity for radical, positive action to redress long-standing inequalities in multiple areas of women’s lives. There is scope for not just endurance, but recovery and growth. I ask governments and all other service providers including the private sector to take this opportunity to plan their response to COVID-19 as they have never done before, and fully take a gender perspective into account, proactively building gender expertise into response teams and embedding gender dimensions within response plans. For example, include surge funding for women’s shelters so they can provide for women who need to escape violent relationships, and aim economic support and bail outs specifically at retail sectors, hospitality and small businesses where women are predominantly employed on precarious contracts, if any, and are most vulnerable to forced cost-saving.

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Rape, Assault Allegation: NAWOJ Wants Unbiased Investigation

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The Nigeria Association of Women Journalists (NAWOJ) has called on the Kogi State Government to ensure accelerated and unbiased investigation of the alleged act of assault and rape committed by the state’s Commissioner for Water Resources, Mr Abdumumuni Danga.
The association made the call in a statement signed by its National President, Mrs Ifeyinwa Omowole, in Abuja, and made available to The Tide, last Monday
It would be recalled that in a video, which had gone viral on social media recently, a beauty queen, Elizabeth Oyeniyi, alleged that Danga abducted, assaulted and forcefully had sex with her over a Facebook post.
According to the victim, she had earlier appealed to the commissioner to assist his family member, who is also a friend of the victim, on her Facebook wall in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown.
Oyeniyi, however, explained that the commissioner got enraged with the post and ordered some boys to pick her and his sister from Okene to Lokoja where the commissioner personally flogged them and raped her.
She further alleged that her phone was smashed and the commissioner intimidated her to recant her Facebook claims through a make-believe video in which she apologised and spoke nicely of him.
Although, the state governor has reportedly suspended the commissioner and ordered an investigation into the matter, human rights organisations, civil society groups, including the National Youth Council of Nigeria (NYCN), have all called for justice.
However, NAWOJ in its statement, urged Kogi State Governor, Alhaji Yahaya Bello, to ensure that objective and unbiased investigation is carried out promptly on the allegation and the accused adequately punished, if found guilty.
“While the media is awash with false information that the commissioner had been suspended, NAWOJ reliably learnt that the commissioner was yet to be suspended and no punishment had been meted out to him.
“Although a probe has been initiated by the state Governor, Yahaya Bello, NAWOJ wishes to urge the panel and the governor to fast-track the probe and not unduly delay it.
“It is worthy of note that many days after this allegation, the said commissioner is yet to deny the allegation against him, pointing to the fact that he may be guilty as alleged.
“NAWOJ also notes that although the victim has already indicated interest to seek legal redress, the onus still lies on the state government, if it is not complicit, to take a decisive action against the erring commissioner.
“Governor Yahaya Bello must take a clear stance to be against violence and assault on women by taking a decisive action against the commissioner, an action that would serve as a deterrent to others with similar traits,” the statement read in part.
The association, therefore, called on the state governor to ensure that the accused is made to step-down as a public office holder so that he does not intimidate the victim or her family.
It added that other women groups and lawyers would be rallied to ensure that Oyeniyi gets justice.
“We can no longer have people in authority who should be custodians of the law breaking same laws with impunity and yet attempting to hold onto supposedly honourable positions,” it stated.

 

Stories by Susan Serekara-Nwikhana

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