The COGEN boss explained that, there is nothing that says because candidate “A” is a female, hence she should vote for her as a woman; “No! When we approach it from the position that, oh, it is a woman, women should vote for them then, we miss the mark.
By: Mayen Etim
KADUNA, North-West, Nigeria – A NGO, Connecting Gender, (COGEN), says one of the things militating against women active participation in politics in Nigeria is caused by society driven by patriarchal attitudes and thoughts that does not allow space for women.
Executive Director of COGEN, Ngukwase Surma, stated this on Monday during a reflection seminar with the media tagged: “Breaking new grounds in the Advocacy to Increase Women’s Political Participation and Representation in Governance in Kaduna.”
The seminar objectives were to identify media champions who will promote and highlight the benefits of having more women actively engaged in politics in Kaduna state, and to link female candidates for the 2019 general elections with the media to raise the profile of the candidates.
Surma said that the reason always put forward that women were the problems to themselves when it comes to politics, is a patriarchal expression, which unfortunately, is what everybody believed in over the years.
According to her, when discussed further it would be discovered that underneath it all is a lack of supports, noting that these supports could be in various forms, and one critical support is funding, saying one cannot really be a politician without having a financial support or base.
“If women financial base is not strong, not the woman herself having the funds, but that she is surrounded by queen makers who would support and get her into that office. A lot of men who didn’t have any money got into offices because there were king makers who made them. So I supposed that we need to have more queen makers.
“Men equally fight themselves, but people don’t talk much about that because we realized that men are not a homogenous group, and in the same manner, women is not a homogeneous group.”
“What I mean is that women should be able to market themselves and not go in there to contest elections, expecting that every woman would vote for them. There are patriarchal attitudes driving those kinds of comments
“It is the same thinking that would now say to another woman, oh she didn’t vote for you and she is a woman. This just further ensures that women further work against themselves. Because no one says to the man, the other man is contesting against you. So women have these attitudes they have to deal with when they go into contest for elections.
“We need to tell ourselves that women will not always vote for women because they are not homogenous. Women have different interests, they belong to different political parties, and also have candidates just like the men,” she said.
On the issue of the 35 per cent reserved for women in Nigeria. Surma, said that the national policy on women is still in the process of being reviewed. She said that the 35 per cent has not been institutionalized, to enabled electoral laws pick up and say political parties must have 35 per cent of women as candidates.
“Neither has political parties made it part of their constitutions and laws that there must be 35 per cent of women candidates. Except those two things happens. It doesn’t exist there is no binding law in Nigeria that says women must have 35 per cent reserved for them to get into elective offices.
“That in itself is a problem as the political terrain is so tough in the country. If there is a 35 per cent reserved in the laws of the country, that would give the women a step up so that they could get in and expand those spaces,” she said.
Surma further explained that COGEN with its sponsors, the National Democratic Institute, (NDI), will continue to work with different constituents like the meeting with the media as the sector is very crucial and central to ensure that people know that there are female candidates in the state.
She said that COGEN will further hold discussions with several other stakeholders in the next few weeks preceding the general elections to get them begin to work with these women that have emerged so that, the communities get to know them and begin to interact with them.
“I can assure you that some people in Kaduna state who have voter’s cards do not know that there are female candidates in the 2019 general elections, but with the media disseminating this information, more people will begin to know there are female candidates.”
She said the female candidates at the seminar were privileged to be contesting election within the state capital where all media organizations are located, and urged them to explore the opportunity, as the media present have all agreed to accommodate them, which some of them have already started.
Thirteen female candidates, eight from Zone 1 and 2 senatorial districts, five from Zone 3 senatorial district of the state who are contesting various positions on different political parties in the upcoming elections, were present to interfaced with the media.