The recent rejection of five gender equality bills among 68 amendment bills presented for voting in the constitutional review by the National Assembly has further energised women in Kaduna State to push for elective and representative positions.
Among the five gender bills rejected by the parliament are the affirmative action bill to ensure 35 per cent positions for women, the bill on ministerial or commissioner nomination and the reserved seat bill to create additional seats for women at the Senate, House of Representatives and the states houses of assembly.
Daily Trust reports that there is currently massive sensitization and mobilization of women across different political parties and other groups in Kaduna State to gear them up ahead of 2023.
Presently, there are only 21 women legislators in both chambers of Nigeria’s 469-member National Assembly with 13 of them in the 360-member House of Representatives and eight in the 109-member Senate.
Also, in the state assemblies, only Cross River State has five women in its 25-member assembly. While states like Enugu, Ekiti and Ogun have four females, Ebonyi, Lagos and Bayelsa three each and Akwa Ibom, Benue and Delta states two females.
Unfortunately, in the North West region, only Kaduna State has a single female legislator which informed the new found synergy among women in the state to have more opportunities in 2023.
Women engaged in the governance of Kaduna have made invaluable contributions and unrelenting efforts to drive development and growth in the state, the state’s deputy governor who is a woman, Dr Hadiza Sabuwa Balarabe, stated.
She is of the opinion that women in positions of leadership have shown competence and diligence in their service.
According to her, “There are various strategies being taken in Kaduna State to strengthen the capacities of young people and women on policy and influence towards taking leadership positions to drive positive change. It is a deliberate effort for improved participation of women and youth in leadership and governance processes.”
She said that will help consolidate the efforts by both government and civil society organisations, in line with the global call for action, to ensure that women are carried along in all spheres of society and they are duly present, represented and heard.
The state’s Commissioner of Human Services and Social Development, Hajiya Hafsat Baba, another woman holding a key position in government said more must be done to push for an increase in women in elective positions in the state.
Even though women in Kaduna have 46 per cent in appointive positions, more needs to be done to ensure they run for elective positions, especially as 2023 draws near,” she stressed.
According to her, “We have not done well in elective positions and I do not know what we are going to do differently to get women into elective positions.
“It is a shame that in the whole of the North West, we have only one woman in the state assembly, but fortunately for us, the state is Kaduna, this is something that worries Malam Nasir El-Rufai because he is a gender person and I know if it is something he could have done apart from picking a woman as his deputy in 2019, he would have done it.”
She called on women to support each other saying that was the sure way to success in 2023, “I have contested twice and I know what it means to contest: it is very tedious and financially straining. I hope women will come out early as 2023 is around the corner.”
President of the Jam’iyyar Matan Arewa (JMA), Hajiya Rabi Musa Saulawa, said with the happening at the parliament, women must talk about the problem at hand and find a lasting solution, saying “women of the North are the ones that are really suffering.”
“After what happened at the National Assembly recently, whereby women’s bills were rejected by the men, because it is mostly men that are there, we decided to come together and talk about the problems that are facing our female politicians in the North because we the women of the North are the ones that are really suffering.
“There is only one woman in the Kaduna State House of Assembly, in the whole of North West, that is why we have brought in women who have been in the political system to come and tell us their problems so that we can find solutions to the problems facing female politicians,” she said.
She called on the government to do more in securing the state and the country at large, especially as 2023 draws nearer and urged women to unite to fight the men.
The Resident Electoral Commissioner of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Kaduna State, Hajiya Asmau Maikudi, described women as pillars of support.
She maintained that any nation that does not recognise its women is doomed to failure.
She then called on men to support women to achieve their full potential and bring in their expertise to move the country forward.
A former member of the House of Representatives, Florence Aya, who is a grassroots politician, said she mentors young women for political and leadership participation.
She urged women to support one another saying, “We cannot ask the National Assembly to support us until we support one another. We should stop fighting each other, we should stop being jealous of one another but we should encourage ourselves so that we can come together and reach our national level if not, the men will continue to laugh at us.”
While listing finance, culture and religion as major challenges facing women in politics, however, she expressed optimism that women would overcome the challenges and forge ahead.
Daily Trust reports that as part of the strategy to push for more women in elective positions, there is presently an ongoing community sensitization and mobilization programme tagged ‘We-You Project’ to prep women and young people up to compete with political veterans in the forthcoming 2023 elections both at the state and federal levels.