December 12, 2022
4TH FOWOSO SUMMIT CHARTS ROADMAP FOR INCREASED WOMEN PARTICIPATION IN POLITICS
By: GELE AGBAI
Nigeria is said to have a population of about 200million people with women constituting half of the population.
What this means is that there are about 100million women in the country. This huge population is a huge resource for all of the country’s sectors.
It is expected that the country will seek to harness this huge resource for all of its sectors for its well-being. But this is not so especially in the political arena where statistics shows that only 6% of the country’s women (about 600,000) are active participants.
At present, less than 5% of the National Assembly and state Houses of Assembly members are women.
And the expectation that there will be increased participation of women in the forthcoming political dispensation is not likely to be realized because according to a report by Women in Politics Forum, only 18.9% of women make up the party list of contestants for the 2023 general elections, with only the Allied People’s Movement (APM) fielding a woman as its presidential candidate.
Tune to any news network, the APM’s presidential candidate is hardly mentioned. Low participation of women in the country’s politics or governance is therefore a reality.
What factors account for this? Why have women not used their high numerical strength to gain political mileage more so when it is mostly women that vote during polls? What should be done to reverse the trend?
The 4th summit of the Foundation for Wives of Ondo State Officials and Female Political Appointees, FOWOSO, held on Wednesday, December 7 and Thursday, December 8 at the International Culture and Event Centre (aka The Dome) and Arcade Ground Igbatoro Road Akure centred on improving the participation of women in the governance of the country. It also examined other issues on the emancipation and empowerment of women in the country.
The theme of the summit was “Bridging The Gender Gap In Political Arena: A Case Of Nigerian Women”. There were other sub themes such as “Growing A Business From Scratch: The 4Ps Of Marketing”; Sex Education In Schools; Fertility Options In The 21st Century: Can A Woman Decide Alone? and High Level Of Insecurity: Has Nigeria Failed As A Nation”.
In his presentation on ‘Growing A Business From The Scratch: The 4Ps Of Marketing’ moderated by Laurel Ojo Ademola; a marketing guru, Arthur Otouamun regretted that many Nigerians were fleeing the country in search of greener pastures when there are opportunities staring them in the eyes.
Instead of running away, he advised such Nigerians to tap into opportunities at home and make a success of them.
He identified the 4Ps of marketing otherwise known as the marketing mix to be product, price, place and promotion. Otouamun said the 4Ps are not just for large corporations, but also for small outlets, which could leverage on them to grow.
Of course, understanding one’s product is key. This will help one to identify those that need it and why. Are there other similar products already in the market and what edge does one’s product has that other existing brand(s) do not have?
Otuamun said; “The job of the marketer is to define the product and its qualities and introduce it to the consumer. It might be a product like soft drink in the beverage industry or a dress in a clothing store. Or these days, it may even be an App in the tech industry. It could also be services such as consulting or a paid speaking gig or even a therapy session”.
The marketing guru said the logic is to fix a price that doesn’t just drive the most amount of sales but also drives the most profit.
He charged business owners to find locations that suit their products/services. For example, he said that anyone who attempts selling ice to the Ekimos or sunshine in the Sunshine State will be a big flop because he wouldn’t receive any patronage.
In promoting one’s business, he advised choosing the appropriate media platforms that will get one’s product to customers.
The question: Are men/husbands to be blamed for low women participation in politics? attracted a yes and no answer.
Aiyedatiwa maintained that economic empowerment was key for increased women participation in politics. He therefore urged women to work for economic empowerment even as he noted that culturally, men hardly believe in women leadership.
The Ondo First Lady and founder of FOWOSO, Chief Betty Anyanwu-Akeredolu urged women not to give up or give in but to adopt the Adamawa State example. This model entails a situation where the women teamed up and voted for the emergence of a fellow woman as the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress APC in the state. In other words, the women deployed their voting strength to gain a political mileage.
Mrs. Akeredolu also canvassed the scrapping of the office of woman leader which parties dangle before women in a bid to give them a sense of belonging. She stated that women are no longer interested in the tokenism which includes hiring them as hailers to launder men’s ego, insisting that women deserve better.
The first lady disclosed that FOWOSO has every reason to pat itself at the back owing to the litany of successes it recorded within the five years of its existence.
According to her, FOWOSO has been playing major role in enhancing the status of women in the state. She revealed that the foundation participated in the organization of the 2022 BeMore Boot Camp, partnered with Breast Cancer Association of Nigeria, BRECAN, in advocacy campaign against breast and cervical cancer.
FOWOSO, she further disclosed laid the foundation of its multi-million Naira centre on November 7 and championed the maiden edition of Ondo State Skill Acquisition and Empowerment Programme (OSSA-EP).
She listed other achievements of the foundation to include getting government to sign into law the Violence Against Persons Prohibition (VAPP) Bill; frontally fighting gender violations in the state and improving the number of women in appointive and elective positions including facilitating the appointment of the first female Secretary to the Ondo State Government. Ondo State has had 16 SSGs and only the sixteenth is a female.
Earlier, the Chairman, Organizing Committee of the summit, Princess Dora Rose Kayode Aroloye had praised the Ondo State First Lady for initiating FOWOSO with which she had been championing the cause of women, their empowerment and self-actualization.
Describing Mrs. Akeredolu as a gender advocate par excellence, she listed her other initiatives to include Betty Anyanwu-Akeredolu Foundation (BAAF), SOLAYO, BRECAN, Tennis Summer Boot Camp, Bemore for Girls and Bemore for Women.
Oluwatoyin Adegbenro and Pastor Bolaji Idowu agreed that sex education should be taught to children to enable them understand the workings of their bodies especially on reaching puberty.
But Abdulazeez differed on where the children should obtain this all-important sex education. He insisted that sex education should be taught children at home by their parents instead of by their teachers at school. According to him, any parent who fails in this duty should be ashamed of himself. Other panelists submitted that owing to the demands of modern life, most parents do not have the time or are not trained to inculcate sex education in their children and wards.
Fertility has often posed a challenge in marriages. Marriage is often seen as mainly for procreation purposes, but if this could not be achieved within few years of marriage especially when the couple must have engaged in unprotected sexual liaison, concerns are raised. More often than not, it is the woman that is seen as being responsible for the inability of the couple to achieve pregnancy.
Speaking on the topic; Fertility Options in the 21st Century, Can a woman decide alone? moderated by Oby Chukwuemeka-Otti, Dr. Akinyemi Olaleye said ideally the couple should be seen together to ascertain the exact causes of childlessness. But in a situation where a woman wishes to pursue motherhood alone, Dr. Olaleye said it is her right.
He said she could do so through Invitro fertilization process, stressing that she could engage a third-party such as an egg donor, sperm donor or gestational surrogate. Hear him; The fact remains that if a woman has desire to build her family as a single parent, it is her right and IVF treatment is ultimately one of the best options available.
FOWOSO is geared towards promoting the socio-economic advancement of women in Ondo state. This task it has performed creditably since inception. As the curtain fell on the summit and delegates leave for their homes, the zeal and zest to contest and compete for elective and appointive political positions resonates in the hearts of the women. Apart from political offices, the women who were empowered with skills and tools are rearing to set up their own shops and ply their trades.
Participants hinted that they are looking forward to the 5th summit which comes up in December 2023. The 5th summit promises to be bigger, more enriching and rewarding.