2019: W4W sets pace for women aspirants, others

As preparations towards the 2019 general elections goes into full swing with the sale of nomination forms by political parties to aspirants, Women4Women, FCT Chapter, has set the pace for female aspirants with the recent Town Hall meeting organised to sensitise female aspirants, female political office holders as well as wives of office holders on voting ethics.
CHIZOBA OGBECHE reports.
The level of women participation in politics remains a cause of concern for women leaders, women organisations as well as Non-Governmental Organisations.
Worried by the decline in the number of women in decision making positions and in a bid to ensure increased participation of women in the 2019 general elections, Women 4 Women/He 4 She, FCT Chapter, recently organised a one-day Town Hall meeting for female aspirants, female political office holders as well as wives of office holders in the territory.
The Mobiliser, W4W FCT, Hajiya Binta Ibrahim, in her welcome address during the meeting with the theme: Sensitising Women at the Grassroots on Voting Ethics, said that the idea behind the meeting is not only to sensitise women on the need to vote during elections and ensure their votes count, but also motivate women towards running for political offices.
She explained that the group is a nongovernmental and not politically affiliated with primary aim of supporting any woman that is interested in seeking political office, not withstanding party affiliation, as well as to negotiate a better deal for women and children.
The Mobiliser, who is a former President of National Council for Women Societies (NWCS), FCT Chapter, decried the low level of women participation in politics, noting that it hampers women from contributing their quota to the development of the country.
While urging women to rise above any form of discrimination and strive to make a difference, she assured the forum’s readiness to support women running for political offices, irrespective of their political affiliation.
According to her, “We recognize the fact that women are not encouraged to run for elective positions or actively participate in politics, this must stop, women’s rights are human rights.
“In order to ensure active participation of women in politics, Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and Non-Governmental Organisations (NGO) at all levels as well as political parties should increase the level of awareness of women by organising seminars/workshops not only in the cities but also in the villages.
“This Town Hall meeting was organised to urge wives of the six area council chairmen in the FCT to mobilize women at the grass to be actively involved in politics because if we can get it right from the grassroots that will help people to understand better.” She maintained that female aspirants needed to understand the workings of the political terrain in order to make a difference, just as wives of political office holders have the responsibility to task their spouses on women and children friendly policies.
In her Keynote address, W4W National Administrator, Ms Monique Tawo, said that the meeting is basically an interactive session between women leaders, political office holders, their wives and aspirants on what to do prior to the elections.
The administrator, who that said W4W is collaborating with INEC on how to proceed, said that the meeting is also to sensitise women that they have the power and the power is in their hands because as wives and mothers they have the ears of their spouses and their children and wards.
She maintained that women vote more and can convince their spouses, children, and all who look up to them, on how to vote, even as she decried the fact that women voices are disappearing because they are not coming out.
She said there was need to reiterate the fact that government owes women recognition and challenged the women to serve as change agents by voting credible candidates in the forthcoming general elections.
According to her women must rise to their responsibilities as mothers of the nation, just as government must go back to the drawing board to understand that the women needed to be given their part in nation building.
She urged every woman whose husband was aspiring for political position to ask for the agenda for women and children, especially the girl-child and what they intended to do with the affirmative agenda.
“Not participating in politics causes more harm than good bearing in mind that politicians make decisions that affect all of us.
We should sensitise our children, husband on why all of us should get involved.
“We can play politics in a way that it would not affect our religious belief but we need to be t the forefront and make government know that we should be at the forefront.
“Women are better leaders and remain very relevant in the scheme of things.
We have to keep reminding ourselves and the government of the need to attain gender parity, though we are not unmindful of the fact that 35 per cent affirmative action is yet to be achieved.” Speaking further she said that: “We have not less than 200 women contesting for various positions on different platforms, we must support women, regardless of their party, ethnic or religious affiliation.
“Only women understand the pains of other women.
We are no longer our own enemies, gone are the days when women were seen in that light.
We need to set the agenda but we are not going to take over from the men.
We are a team, standing firmly behind our men.” Also speaking, one of the aspirants, Lois Outa, a person living with disability (PLWD), who is contesting for the House of Representatives (AMAC/Bwari) on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC), said exclusion and marginalisation of the vulnerable groups including the elderly, PLWD, as well as women and children, motivated her to join the race.
Outa, who said that the choice of the platform was informed by the fact that the administration has identified with persons living with disabilities and have shown that they have rights and potential that could be developed.
According to her, the President Muhammadu Buhari led administration is the first to appoint a Special Adviser on Disability Matters to the President as well as in all the 36 states and the FCT.
She decried the fact that beyond challenges of living with disability, she has encountered as challenge of being a woman as well as not being an indigene of the FCT in the course of her campaigns.
While soliciting the support of residents, especially women and youths, she promised that she is in the race to change the statisquo by sponsoring bills that will factor in PLWD and other vulnerable groups in programmes and planning.
On her part, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) officer in charge of Voter Education, Mrs Idong Esit, assured women of the readiness of the commission to provide a level playing round for all contestants and encouraged women to take advantage of the important role that they play in electoral processes.
She commended W4W for creating an opportunity for women to talk to women, pointing out that there was need for more women to participate in politics.
While making case for increased participation of women in the electoral process, she urged women to register and collect their Permanent Voters’ Card (PVCs), noting that the men won’t women positions on a platter of gold hence the women have to work for it and insist that they would not be relegated to the background.
According to her, “If women can take care of the home, their husband and children, then it follows that women can take care of the larger society which is an extension of the family.
Gender constraints can be conquered through education and socialisation.
“Women can bring change to the society but if we can’t support each other then we won’t make hence there is need to change the mindset that we can’t work together.” In the same vein, an expert on Political Ethics, Mrs Stella Esu, while speaking on grassroots on voting ethics said it was time for women to get it right.
Mrs Esu maintained that mothers are teachers and instill morality in the child so they are not deviants hence they should take the morality into politics and change the statusquo.
“Women play transformational politics because of their nature as against men’s transactional politics which sees them defecting from one platform to another.
“Politics is not all about mobilising, dancing and chanting slogans.
Women should play politics of ideology; have a core value even if it means standing alone.
We have to play politics with a difference, into to be corrupt, bring love into it, bring God into it, and bring moral into it,” she declared.
On her part, the Deputy Mobiliser, FCT W4W, Mrs Onaiwu, urged women to shun vote buying, whether for money or food items, because such acts will mortgage their future and that of their children.
She urged the women to educate their children and wards on the dangers of political thuggery, noting that children of political office holders and other politicians do not participate in electoral violence because they are being shielded from the inherent dangers.

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