Rahila Dauda is the first Chairperson, Young Women in Politics Forum (YWIPF). In this chat with ENE OSHABA she speaks on her journey into politics and why more young women should have interest in politics early.
What’s your background and how did you join politics?
I am a development lawyer with expertise in women and children’s right. I am also an advocate for gender, good governance and human rights.
I am amongst the 30 young women very much interested in politics and I privileged to be selected and trained by the Rule of Law and Empowerment Initiative also known as Partners West Africa Nigeria (PWAN) where I learnt a lot and has gone ahead to be more active in politics, hence my joining the Women in Politics Forum (WIPF).
I am also the pioneer Chairperson, Young Women in Politics, Abuja Chapter; which was created by the WIPF led by Barr. Ebere Ifendu. This made PWAN to spotlight me as one of the Young Female Achievers, this is very encouraging and I want to do more especially in enlightening more women to joining politics.
What inspired you to join politics?
What inspired me to Politics is the fact that man by nature is a political animal and one cannot separate oneself from it.
Also politics is a way one can contribute effectively to one’s society and community, and of course it is something that has been with me for a long time.
I have been holding leadership positions right from my primary school days so politics come easy for me.
There is also the need to get more women in politics as we don’t have a good number which is not commendable. I want to be an inspiration to other women and also mobilise support for women to be in office.
How would you assess politics in Nigeria?
Well, politics in Nigeria to me is elitist in nature, and it is not getting better with the proposed amendment to the Electoral Act which seeks to increase the threshold for campaign funds. This will be a disadvantage to a lot of women and young people.
Also politics in Nigeria can be violent sometimes, and we need to do a lot in this aspect because participation in politics is vital part of citizens’ human rights.
What is the status of women in politics?
Currently, the percentage of women at all levels of governance is very low. We just have 8 women in the Senate; and 13 women out of the 360 members of the House of Representatives. It is very low compared to the percentage of women in the country.
Young Women are not adequately represented as well even with the Not-Too-Young-Run Act. Winning an election in Nigeria is very expensive so most women cannot afford to run for office.
This is why I appreciate what Barr Ebere Ifendu is doing with WIPF and YWIPF by creating avenues for young women to participate in the governance of their country, not necessarily by being in office but by becoming more interested and active in other political processes.
This includes getting involved in public hearing on issues by the National Assembly like the Constitutional Amendment, organising capacity building workshops and so on.
Have you contested for any political position before and can you share your experience?
No, I have not but I am working towards that. Women have a lot to bring to the table of national development and I would be happy and privileged to contribute meaningfully to the growth of this country.
It is a process which I have started, I am learning through the years and only time can tell what the future holds.
What are your plans for the 2023 general elections?
I may not be running for an office in 2023 but I will be part of the democratic process. Currently, the WIPF is making sure more women get their Permanent Voters Card (PVCs) by getting registered to be able to vote in the forthcoming general elections.
We are also identifying women who are willing to run for office in the elections so as to support them and help in any way possible.
I am active in activities of the Federation of Female Lawyers (FIDA) Nigeria, which works to ensure an improved livelihood for women. Their activities have been eye opening and enlightening especially the interest in supporting less privileged women in the society.
That is what leadership should be, when those at the top care for and cater for the needs of those around them the society will be a much better place.
We also participate and join our voices to salient issues affecting women just like the on-going advocacy for withdrawal of clauses in the Electoral Act amendment Bill.
I am learning a lot as a young woman and all these will manifest as we continue to grow into getting our rightful place in the polity.
Are you saying that the polity is inclusive?
It is not yet inclusive though plans are ongoing to see that Nigerian political space is more inclusive. The Gender Equality Opportunity Bill for example seeks to increase more seats for women in the National Assembly.
Most women, especially young ones, don’t have interest in politics. What do you think is responsible?
Most young people don’t have interest in politics because as I stated earlier the politics in Nigeria is elitist and very expensive.
Also, with the way the leadership in the country is going most young people feel distant and discouraged.