“It does appear that the huge and overwhelming representation of women at most political rallies has not transformed to increased opportunities for women to contest election”.
Election time is once again upon the nation with candidates already declaring their intention to vie for one office or the other. From the office of the President, to Governorship, the National and State legislatures, politicians have begun their meetings and political alignments all with a view to electoral victory. Given this development, I consider it pertinent to draw attention to a matter that has often escaped serious discussion in the Nigerian political landscape and this is the need to provide more opportunities for women in politics in Nigeria. This is so evident when one considers that women in Nigeria today still suffer a lot of discrimination particularly when it comes to participation in politics. I therefore intend to examine this issue as it continues to attract much concern not only from the women folk of our great country but also from every Nigerian who is appalled by the limited opportunities afforded women to effectively participate in politics in Nigeria.
I have used the word “effectively” advisedly as it cannot be disputed that women do participate in one form or the other in politics in Nigeria. Virtually all Political Parties in Nigeria have strong women wings which are designed to coordinate and maintain the support base of each party amongst women. Women after all are universally acknowledged to constitute an important unit of any electoral or political demography. It is however sad that Political Parties seem to be content with letting women bear such titles as “Women Leader”, “Deputy Women Leader”, “Chief Women Organizer” etc without really affording them a real opportunity of contributing politically to the development of this Country. Sadder still is the fact, as suggested by available data, that our women due to decades of forced submission to outdated ideologies regarding the role of women in society, may have come to regard themselves as eternal followers in the political schemes of events, only to be seen and never to be heard. Happily, and I do derive enormous satisfaction from this, increasing public discourse on the role of women in politics spurred by women themselves leave no room for doubt that Nigerian Women recognize the fact that much more can be achieved from their increased participation in politics and are not prepared to seat idly by whilst waiting for such opportunities which history teaches are seldom given freely and must on the contrary be demanded and when granted be protected.