Women must go beyond asking for 35% participation – Ngozi Olejeme

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Chairman, Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSTIF), Dr. Ngozi Olejeme has attributed the low participation of women in politics to the prevailing social and economic regimes as well as the existing political structures.
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These hindrances, she said, must give way for the African woman to realize her full potential and contribute meaningfully to nation building and democratic governance.

“The absence of the African women from political decision making has a negative impact on the entire process of democratization, as it undermines the fundamental concept of a democratic form of governance”

Olejeme spoke on the role of African women in promoting development in democratic governance at an interface between the Peoples Democratic Institute and the International community in Abuja.

Olejeme who declared that the place of the African woman in systemic development has not been properly captured and therefore remains unappreciated because of primordial perceptions about her, said “women involvement in the democratic process is essential to broadening and deepening the commitment of the societies to democratic governance”

“The African woman has been a major target of extreme forms of violence in the region. Women in the horn of Africa have experienced the full impact of violent conflicts as civilians and combatants. But the truth remains that they are usually excluded from the decision making processes that ignite wars or put an end to hostilities”

She urged the women to go beyond asking for 35% participation.
“African women have proved over the years that they can be trusted as they have delivered in several areas they had occupied in government. The persistent exclusion of women from formal politics raises a number of specific questions regarding the achievement of broad-based democratic transformation” she said.

The NSITF boss called for gender balance in all bodies and measures put in place to advance the rights of women in politics as well as a clearly defined programme with robust women’s agenda targeted at literacy of the African women, health, income generating activities for women, micro credit, prevention of violence, and gender justice.

“The African women should be supported during campaigns and should be helped to increase their capabilities in the areas of negotiation and legislation. Governments within the region must demonstrate a political will to promote gender equality by playing a catalytic role in gender mainstreaming across all sectors of government. The Civil society organizations should also come in by documenting the experiences of women ex-combatants and identify measures to reintegrate them into the society”

Olejeme also suggested the need to organize public discussions and lobby for women to participate and hold decision making positions in all committees and commissions.

“We must promote gender-awareness campaigns to develop an understanding among both women and men that women’s participation is a key component of good governance” she added.

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