By: Joy Odor/Kaduna
The President of Kaduna Women Network Consultative Forum, Hajiya Zulai Shehu Bello has vowed that women will no longer occupy the position of cheer leaders for men politicians as they clamor for female political representation.
According to Hajiya Zulai Bello who made the vow during the presentation of Charter of Demand for Increased Women Political representation in Kaduna, North-West, Nigeria on Tuesday, 4th of September, 2018 said this narrative needs to change, saying if democracy allows for diverse opinion and participation of different groups, then it cannot thrive by excluding women, who effectively constitute half of the country’s national population.
She stressed that in Kaduna State there is currently no woman in the State House of Assembly and none in the National Assembly while on the ministerial positions, 48 countries in Africa have more women appointed as ministers than Nigeria, adding that the more devastating, is that Nigeria had never had a female state governor in its history.
Hajiya Zulai Bello therefore called on all political parties who seek to benefit from women’s strength in numbers and their ability to mobilize grassroots support, to ensure that all political parties reserve 35% of all party tickets for women in the upcoming 2029 general elections.
The President of the Forum added that the figures show that the number of women in elective and appointive positions in Nigeria is shamefully low and most worrisome is the fact that the numbers keep decreasing with each general election.
She stated that the global ranking of women in national parliaments places Nigeria at 181 of a total 193 countries and the lowest in Africa, stressing that Nigeria shares bottom of the table with countries like Iran and Thailand considered undemocratic.
Hajiya Zulai Bello was of the opinion that research has shown when women societies thrive and prosper, everyone benefits and there is a positive economic turnaround of 6% increase in GDP the year after elections.
The President of the Forum advocated that all political primaries should be conducted democratically with clear and transparent rules that allow party members the chance to select candidates of their choice and not foisted on them by the party.
She also pointed out that party activities should be devoid of violence as women are less likely to get involved in politics or contest for political office and demand that all political parties provide adequate security during political activities such as rallies and primaries so that women can actively participate and not fear for their lives.
Hajiya Zulai Bello noted that the reasons for low political representation of women in Nigeria has been attributed to lack of internal democracy in political parties ranks for poor female representation and participation.
“Emphasis has always been laid on women’s numerical strength; however, translating such into attainment of power has been very difficult as women are perceived as the supporters club, team cheerers and the clapping wing of political parties in contrast to their male counterparts.
“As we look forward to the 2019 elections, women will do what they do best, ‘overwhelmingly mobilize grassroots support and notes’ only for parties that field women candidates” she stressed.