Following the rise in the tempo of political activities ahead of the 2023 general elections, advocates of women’s right in politics and economy have suggested practical ways to ensure the implementation of the court ruling on 35 percent affirmative action.
They spoke at a virtual meeting hosted by the 100 Women Lobby Group in Abuja with the theme ‘Making the 35% Affirmative Action a Reality’.
Driven by civil society experts, the discussions were nothing short of firsthand experiences and reliable solutions from some of Nigeria’s foremost women activists.
National Coordinator of the 100WLG, Felicia Onibon, in her opening remarks, stated that the conversation on inclusion in governance will be decidedly inconclusive without analysing the fact that women are not given adequate opportunities to respond effectively in Nigeria.
Citing the recent lobbying and protest activities that took place at the National Assembly for the passage of the five gender bills hitherto rejected by the lawmakers, she said it was important to lend voices to improve the efforts made for women’s development.
The President, Women in Politics Forum, Barr. Ebere Ifendu, noted that several ministerial appointees that indicated interest in running for elective offices next year had resigned from their positions before the just concluded party primaries.
She, therefore, called on President Muhammadu Buhari, to replace the empty positions with women to demonstrate the government’s obedience to the 35 percent Affirmative Action judgment by Justice Donatus Okorowo in favour of women.
“We have sent a letter to the President informing him that women should replace the men as enforcement of the judgement is very important. The President as a matter of urgency must enforce the law as women’s groups will hold him accountable,” Ifendu stated.
While stating the importance of collaboration, Nkechi Ilochi-Kanny, the Manager of Women`s Right Program, Actionaid Nigeria, called for strategic partnerships to achieve the 35 percent affirmative action in Nigeria.
She further advised that women should not stick to only one strategy in getting the authorities to live up to their commitment of proper women inclusion in the right leadership positions.
Ilochi-Kanny said, “To ensure the court ruling is acted upon and we see the implementation of the law, we need to collectively strategize now to make sure there are mechanisms in place to make the implementation possible.
“We should be alert as there could be opposition groups working against the process of implementing this law. CSOs, feminist groups, and activists may need to come together in leveraging resources as a collective to deal with this issue.
“For the 35 percent Affirmative Action to be obtained, some institutions should be held accountable and responsible. It is a test to know how we can obtain it at various levels.
Deliberate and decide on the resources that will be required to obtain the implementation.
“Nigeria is a huge country. So, we need more than one strategy to win this war. We need to think critically and proffer suitable solution to ensure that the 35% Affirmative Action ruling is completely implemented.”
She also encouraged women to introduce unconventional ways to drive their demands home and also achieve results.
Amina Oyagbola, the Chairperson of Women in Successful Careers (WISCAR), speaking after the ActionAid representative, lamented Nigeria’ position at the bottom of the global development.
She went on to discuss the implication of this, commenting on how greater women inclusion in governance will address the situation.
She said, “The state of the nation is poor. Concerning infrastructure, insecurity, poverty and so on Nigeria is not performing well and this is because women are not fully involved and included in decision making.
“Women are a blessing to the nation, the portal through which everyone in the world is present. They are caregivers, nurturers, and the enablers of every success story.
“For that reason, women are entitled to their own place in the society and have to use the (35% Affirmative Action) judgement to drive home these messages.
“Also, we need to encourage all those whom this judgement and court ruling was targeted at, to not see it as a loss, but as a victory and progress for the nation and society which will strengthen our democracy as a nation.”