From the local to the global levels, women’s political participation and leadership are restricted. Women are underrepresented as voters, as well as in leading positions, whether in elective office, the civil service, the private sector and the academia. This occurs despite their proven abilities as leaders and agents of change, and their right to participate equally in democratic governance.
Women face several obstacles to participating in political life. Structural barriers through discriminatory laws and institutions still limit women’s options to run for office. Capacity gaps mean women are less likely than men to have the education, contacts and resources needed to become effective leaders.
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These are known facts. The recent exploits of a group of women led by the First Lady Hajiya Aisha Buhari in advocacy for the passage of women affirmative action bills at the National Assembly which failed because of high level of resistance from the established status quo is a testimonial of the intensity of this matter. We thank Her Excellency for her unmatched efforts and that is why we have taken it upon ourselves to complement her effort.
With or without affirmative action, we have decided to pick forms and run for offices. And by running, we do not intend to sensationalize the issue of gender inequality in the political space, but to clearly and objectively establish valid reasons why women with the capacity, competence and the determination for public service should be given equal chances on the basis of merit.
Hence, our resolve to pick expression of interest and nomination forms for various offices even without structural, legislative and institutional support and encouragement. In Kaduna for example, 15 of us women have declared in APC. We are committed to contesting the primaries and we’re optimistic of winning. We hold the strong conviction to contest the general elections, and we will win for APC, we will win for Women, we will win for youths, we will win for our entire constituents.
And Insha Allah, our success will signal a new beginning; a paradigm shift in politics and governance characterized by equal chances and opportunities for women on strict meritocratic basis.
Khadija Muhammad Sani (Majida) is an aspirant for membership of Kaduna State House of Assembly, she writes from Zaria