Minister of Women Affairs and Social Development, Hajia Zanaib Maina and Wife of Ekiti State governor, Erelu Bisi Fayemi, have identified lack of access to fund and fear of seeming male dominance for the dwindling political fortunes of women in the country.
This was their opinion during a visit to the minister by the executive and advisory board members of the Nigerian Women’s Trust Fund, in Abuja.
The two women leaders, therefore, advised technocrats and qualified females to venture into politics, which they said was the only way they could fight for political space with male politicians.
The Ekiti First Lady led the delegation to the minister’s office in her capacity as the chairperson of the advisory board of the fund.
The governor’s wife, however, solicited for financial and political support from the ministry to enhance the political fortunes of female politicians aspiring to elective offices at all levels.
She expressed optimism that proper funding of the NWTF would assist it to discharge its responsibility of ensuring that women who want to run for political offices had access to fund.
The Federal Government had inaugurated the NWTF, in March, this year, as a platform to increase the number of women elected into political offices at all levels of governance.
The fund specifically seeks to generate resources to provide financial and technical assistance to female politicians vying for elective positions.
Fayemi said that the goal of the NWTF was to ensure that women had level playing ground in decision-making, as a follow-up to several conferences held over the years in this direction.
She noted that the country was blessed with promising and able women who have value to add to governance, but who face serious challenge of finances.
According to her, donor partners are often willing to contribute to capacity building, but were mostly found wanting when it comes to financing elections of women to enable them to occupy high decision-making positions.
The NWTF board chairperson said,
“I would like to assure you that this initiative is indeed the first of its kind, and when it was first established, some of us received a call to support it, which we have actually been doing.
Finance is a major obstacle confronting women when they want to stand up and be counted during electioneering and this gave birth to the trust fund.
In my state, I’m happy to inform you that we have started from zero level in the past to an appreciable level. At least we now have four female legislators in our state Assembly and they are doing well.
And at the national level, what we did not get in terms of having more women elected into the National Assembly, we were able to achieve through a significant number of appointments at the federal cabinet.
For the first time, we have at least 35 per cent of women in decision-making at the federal level. And this is something that we are very proud of. But, like Oliver Twist, we want more.”
Ahead of the next general election, she said that the ministry should stand by women to position them to compete favourably with male politicians.
The minister, who described the Ekiti First Lady as a comrade in the democratic and social struggles, commended her for her efforts at improving the status and integrity of women at home and abroad.
Given her knowledge of the pedigree of Governor Kayode Fayemi and his wife, the minister was upbeat that the couple would turn around the fortunes of the state with support of the stakeholders.
Without prejudice to her affiliation to the Peoples Democratic Party, the minister expressed optimism that the governor, who was elected on the platform of the Action Congress of Nigeria, would occupy the office for the constitutionally-allowed two terms.
Responding to a reminder by the chairperson of the NWTF advisory board, Maina vowed to redeem the pledge by the FG to the fund to enhance its operations ahead of the 2015 general elections.
Lamenting the paltry budgetary allocation to the ministry, the minister said her ministry would devise ingenious ways of raising fund from philanthropists, development partners and FG to achieve its objectives.
“With the calibre of women in government today, I can say that we have 50 per cent affirmative action, because when you consider the portfolio of our female ministers you will know what I’m talking about.
Female ministers are in charge of petroleum, finance, education and other key ministries. But, in the next election we will strive to get more women elected as against appointed. When you are elected, you are guaranteed four years unlike when appointed.
This is why I will encourage technocrats to come out and take risks during the next general election. Women should take their destiny in their own hands. For instance, we want more female legislators at State and National Assemblies.
Women of Nigeria have the numeric strength to achieve this. We can even have a female governor or vice president if we are determined. I know that fund and fear of male dominance are factors, but we will assist the NWTF to secure more funds for their activities.”
Last modified: April 2, 2011