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  It’s International Women’s Day and it is a day worthy of reflecting on the place of women in governance in Nigeria. Over the past few decades, so much has been said about getting women to walk on the same footing as men in leadership spaces, yet the goal is barely achieved. So much funding has gone into setting up structures to mitigate the dearth of women in governance. Even much so, a lot of other women, thus, felt entitled to a quota of governance spaces without putting in the work or rising to the occasion when the need arose.
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Historically, women have surfaced in the space of political leadership at certain crucial points in Nigeria’s history. The Aba Women’s Riot and the Egba Revolt which staunchly opposed draconian policies in the colonial rule were led by women. Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti and so many others have been mentioned in the class of the founders of independent Nigeria for this same reason. However, in a largely patriarchal society, more women still find it difficult to climb into other positions of power across the diverse facets of leadership in Nigeria. Firstly, equipping women and young girls with the necessary education to succeed in life should be a priority. Coming from a society that used to be largely opposed to female education because they would soon be married off to males in society many decades ago, the gap in prioritising women’s education is now fast closing. Similarly, other factors unrelated to education seem to be holding back getting women to high-flying careers/achievements which can give them grounding and a better pedigree for leadership. Also, while the realities of our nation remain posed against Nigerians of all genders, the societal biases pose even higher odds against the free flow of women into government spaces. Another factor that has impeded the funnelling of women into the leadership space in Nigeria is the natural burden of procreation on them. Women literally have had to do at least 80% of what it entails to rear children. The childbearing and child nurturing which women are largely responsible for cost the less privileged lot of them clear and uninterrupted pathways to leadership opportunities. Many women have had to resign, overlooked or forgo career opportunities because they can hardly shuffle their demanding careers with child nurturing. The ones who had broken some of nature’s glass ceilings to achieve great things have mostly done so in spite of their limitations and some by the privilege of their liberated background. In February, accomplished economist and former Nigerian minister of finance, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, was unanimously elected by nations in the world as the World Trade Organisation (WTO) Director-General. Without shirking her familial responsibilities, Ngozi rose many years ago to become Managing Director at the World Bank before being poached to serve the nation in the Olusegun Obasanjo administration.
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To date, she remains one of the high flying ex-public servants alive with loads of other personal achievements. Definitely, the opportunity of serving in higher leadership roles met her own preparation at a timely juncture of her life. For our nation to start seeing more of the difference women can make in leadership, very populous societies such as Nigeria will have to stop seeing women just as vessels of reproduction or ones that always have to pander to the needs of men. Again, as not many women are naturally disposed to taking the kind of risks men are wired to take, the few times that women have risen up to take the bull of leadership by its horns have been very significant. No doubt that the twist women bring in governance is equally needed in our nation. Let us take the role women played in how the #EndSARS movement and protests became far-reaching. As far as it was – it took a few women such as Aisha Yesufu, Rinu, Feyikemi (FK) Abudu and the other women in and out of the Feminist Coalition (FemCo) to stand up to mobilise and organise a huge population of youths across the world. It took the courage of DJ Switch to stand her ground at the Lekki toll gate on 20th October 2020 to dare lead the live documentation of the massacre. It is a great thing that the events of the year 2020 have shown other young girls and the society at large what women are capable of if well prepared for great moments. As International Women’s Day is marked today by remembering the accomplishments of the few who have blazed the trail, we must also never forget the exploits of unsung heroines whose efforts at raising a lot of humanity while standing out gallantly were never eulogised. And while doing this, we must be careful not to merely hand out leadership positions to women on a platter lest it seems like they did not work for it. There is always a need for balance in getting women into governance. Merely handing out leadership slots could be counterproductive, but instead encouraging more women to believe in their God-given abilities and to seize the day whenever the need comes calling should be a societal call. Featured Image Source: Latest Report
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This article was first published on 8th March 2021


Macaddy is mostly a farmer in the day who also dabbles into technology at night, in search of other cutting edge intersections. He's on Twitter @i_fix_you

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