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NEED TO MAKE, IMPLEMENT POLICES AND INCLUDE WOMEN IN GOVERNANCE

In Nigeria’s Delta State, elections for the post of governor are fast approaching. It is disconcerting and disappointing that women’s issues and rights are being consistently ignored and or trivialized by the candidates for this important office. This lack of attention is manifest in a pronouncement by the ruling people’s Democratic Party, PDP, Governorship Candidate, Dr Ifeanyi Okowa. The objectives that he has put forward do not represent the right kind of causes that need attention where women are concerned. Moreover, these objectives have a questionable and frugal understanding of the appropriate degree of representation and attention that women and women’s rights should be duly given.

Here is a list of issues that are not being addressed at all:

  • Dr Okowa puts forth his manifesto here. He talks of unity as a basis for the state to progress, but he does not address gender equality. Sustainable peace and longstanding equality and justice cannot be achieved without gender equality. The UN recommends that 30 to 38% of government positions should be held by women, but this has not been done.
  • Dr Okowa says that though there has been progress in different areas in the government, it has opened up new challenges and so he plan to consolidate and about advancing progress. But this is not possible if a whole segment of the demographic is ignored. Strong attention must be devoted to the impact of development on women.
  • In his vision of Delta State as the pacesetter in the Nigerian Federation, Dr Okowa claims that he will achieve this status through specific action areas of gainful and productive employment; poverty reduction programmes; peace building and security; housing and urban renewals; agriculture and agribusiness; health and education. But, he makes no mention of gender, of providing for beneficial policies that will suitably involve women, or of ensuring the smooth functioning of society by empowering women. There is no demographic data or monitoring and evaluation system. Also such initiatives implemented across the country are often hacked by influential people.
  • Dr Okowa says he will focus on industrialization. Yet, no attention has been devoted to the gender quotient at the work place, the issues of sexual harassment and creating safe workspaces, equal pay for equal work, maternity benefits and other similar benefits for women. The rate of sexual harassment in schools is high, and cult killings occur there. He makes no mention of these important issues.
  • Dr Okowa plans to focus on a five point agenda in his work, which comprises employment generation and poverty reduction; agriculture and industrialization; health and education; security and peace building; environment and urban renewal. This agenda reveals that he does not even recognize that gender is an important factor in all of these areas. The rights of women are centered within these elements, and by ignoring the gender quotient, his policy has no sustainable value.
  • When politicians use the term “women leaders”, they are not referring to educated women. They refer to women who are mobilisers at the grass roots level; often a segment whose level of education is mainly teachers training certificate. Most of these women serves as uniform wearers whose function is to clap and dance at campaigns and shout “women oye”. A very small percentage of these women are offered political appointments in such areas as welfare and women’s issues. While this is good, this class of women barely understand women issues and cannot even identify them because they are often ill-equipped to handle such complex issue. Highly educated and qualified women and other class of women; professional and technocrats are left out under the pretext that they may not understand the need of other classes of women, an assumption which is very erroneous and serve only the interest of very men who feel threaten by the advent of intelligent women in governance and politics.
  • Looking at his campaign, all of the women in the list either hold positions in the current administration or were nominated by godfathers. None of the new age women in Delta who show intellectual capacity, knowledge and flair in significate areas in politics or even women issues; some of them who showed their and committed to nation building even on social and print media are glaringly omitted in the great campaign list of the PDP. Now the question is will Dr Okowa remember these sisters when the time of appointed? Will the prescribed 30 to 38% of women be reflected in worthwhile appointment?
  • Microcredits was not properly addressed – the soft loans which should be available to enhance the startup of small business for women is normally misdirected these by these “women leaders” – it doesn’t get to the grass roots to where it is meant to make a difference in the lives in the rural community. There are no set KPIs, nor is there a system of oversight to monitor this initiative, also it is not sustainable and they are not addressing different classes of women and their needs – because their needs vary. It was not addressed – and if the issue did get attention, it was invariably hijacked. Lumping all women together in one category for loans regardless of their education and capacity is quite retrogressive.
  • Support and empowerment should be given to educated women, or other class of women who indicate interest in being position of power. How many women really have good positions? How many women head high profile teams? They are appointed to head only welfare, basic health and mobilization. Do women lack the intelligence to do more? The government is leaving the educated women out of empowerment. They think that empowerment is only for poor people. But, when an educated woman leaves school, she needs a good position without a godfather. What is being done to ensure that women are guaranteed a good position? We need women who can help all classes of women, and not women who will help only one class of women. Why are women appointed to head only welfare, basic health and mobilization when they are capable of doing much more?
  • We want women to have good positions, good pay and good opportunities. Women should be given good leadership roles. How many women are heading committees and are being given leadership positions here? Why is there an emphasis on welfare, basic health and mobilization activities as the only roles for women to play? Aren’t women capable of much more?
  • It is also a matter of grave concern that, during the PDP flag bearer’s primary campaign, unprintable and derogatory comments were written by Dr Okowa’s online campaign team about current top women in government and other campaign teams. Why is Dr Okowa media team and yet the PDP media campaign/publicity made up of predominately men, so I ask the question are their no women in delta that they can be either equally good and bold in the field of media and publicity? Did we not have one of the front line candidate in PDP primaries who has a women leading the social media and demonstrated that she can take on the men and hold the press and publicity competently from above? Yet her name was not included in their media /publicity campaign list.

In every level of a democracy, it is extremely important to have the promise of a bright future with leaders that not only appear to have potential, but who project that potential even before the elections take place. The time for Dr Okowa and PDP to demonstrate that it intends in including serious minded women is now!

In most parts of the world, it is a very grim and unfortunate reality that potential leaders promise certain things but don’t deliver. Worse still, in some places, even their promises are misguided – and in the consequential aftermath of the election, should they wind up winning it

As women who are global citizens and stakeholders in the future of our families, communities and nations, we deserve comprehensive attention for all of our rights and interests. These campaigns offer generic commitments and pay no attention to specific issues in our community.

Although women may be a demographic as a whole, there are vastly different segments among women. Older women need comprehensive healthcare. Younger women need safe working spaces, access to education and healthcare. Mothers need healthcare and safe spaces for their families. Little girls deserve a future. Professional women and their sisters who are technocrats deserve recognition and not marginalization, encouragement and not discrimination. These women are the future nurturers, parents, nation builders and the bedrock of strong family and community.

Consequently, it is very important that women are represented in the political circle. In the current scenario that precedes the elections in Delta State for the position of governor, women are not part of the leadership other than a few, all of whom were brought in like puppets by men in the campaign to whom they are close. In short, women are being used solely for mobilisation, which is not right. The women representatives who are present among the electoral candidates are not aware of the needs of every class or category of women in the region. Some of the women who are on this list are actually props being advanced by the party.

The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are among the core values that have to be adhered to by governments across the world. In the run up to the post-2015 agenda becoming real, it is important to set the foundation stone for the coming obligations by adhering to the MDGs. None of the three candidates who are standing for the elections have even mentioned in their manifestos any of the eight MDGs that pertain to various elements of education, healthcare, maternal health, gender equality and development that are important norms.

The future of educated women in Delta State is dismal. It may be true that women hold up half the sky – but it is not enough to have only a symbolic representation of women in the political set up. It is extremely important for women to be represented by the right kind of women – the women who not only understand the communities they represent, but also have the strength, vision and foresight to project the needs of their communities and to take up cudgels for reform on their behalf.

By providing vague, misguided and myopic campaigns that are seldom supported by anything more than an ignorant view of social structures, the future of Delta State does not look promising. Here is a shout out for support to demand comprehensive manifestos from our potential future leaders. We ask you to endorse our cause and to support our request for comprehensive policy, manifesto drafting and wholesome representation of women in leadership. This is a matter of basic right, and only this can ensure the rightful engendering of democracy.

Find herewith the statistics in the campaign list.

DIRECTORS...2 WOMEN OUT OF 16

ASSISTANT DIRECTORS. ...2 WOMEN OUT OF 8

1. PROTOCOL HEADED BY A WOMAN
11 WOMEN MEMBERS OUT OF 49

2. FINANCE HEADED BY A WOMAN
3 MEMBERS OUT OF 24

3. MEDICAL DEPARTMENT
3 WOMEN MEMBERS OUT OF 23

***TRANSPORT COMMITTEE HAS 30 MEMBERS NO WOMAN
***PLANNING AND RESEARCH HAS 6 MEMBERS NO WOMAN

4. CONTACT COMMITTEE
2 WOMEN MEMBERS OUT OF 28

5. WELFARE HEADED BY A WOMAN
33 WOMEN MEMBERS OUT 70

6. SECURITY
1 WOMAN MEMBER OUT OF 62

7. MEDIA TEAM
3 WOMEN MEMBERS OUT OF 52

8. YOUTHS MOBILISATION
7 WOMEN OUT OF 195 MEMBERS

VENUE COMMITTEE
3 WOMEN OUT OF 40 MEMBERS

NON INDIGENE AND FOCUS GROUPS
2 WOMEN OUT OF 69 MEMBERS

LG COORDINATORS
..OKPE HEADED BY A WOMAN
UGHELLI NORTH HEADED BY A WOMAN
BURUTU HEADED BY A WOMAN

LG EXECUTIVE MEMBERS
ETHIOPE WEST. ...2 WOMEN OUT OF 11
ETHIOPE EAST. ..1 OUT OF 11
SAPELE. ..2 OUT OF 10
OKPE. ..2 OUT OF 11
UVWIE. ..3 OUT OF 11
UDU...1 OUT OF 11
UGHELLI SOUTH. ..2 OUT OF 16
UGHELLI NORTH. ..4 OUT 15
BOMADI. ..3 OUT OF 15
BURUTU. ..2 OUT OF 15
PATANI. ..1 OUT OF 13
WARRI SOUTH WEST. ..2 OUT OF 14
WARRI NORTH. ..2 OUT OF 16
WARRI SOUTH. ..4 OUT OF 12
ISOKO SOUTH. .2 OUT OF 14
ISOKO NORTH. ...1 OUT OF 15
IKA SOUTH. ....2 OUT OF 14
IKA NORTHEAST. .3 OUT OF 13
UKWUANI. ..3 OUT OF 10
NDOKWA WEST. .2 OUT OF 15
NDOKWA EAST. ..4 OUT OF 12
ANIOCHA SOUTH. ..3 OUT OF 16
ANIOCHA NORTH. ..3 OUT OF 15
OSHIMILI SOUTH. ..1 OUT OF 11
OSHIMILLI NORTH. ..2 OUT OF 12

==TOTAL OF ALL POSSITIONS 1,025

==WOMEN POSSITIONS 132

==WOMEN IN GOVERNMENT 32

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Signed

Elsie Ijorogu-Reed
CEO/Founder
Deltawomen Ngo
Delta State, Nigeria.

ENDORSERS

Olutosin Oladosu Adebowale
Sotawaca, Nigeria

Sue Beizsley Ruby - Fellow
PREZEN Ngo USA

Chris Crowstaff, Founder & Trustee
Jennifer Timmons, Director of Field Partners & Managing Editor
Safe World for Women

Qamar Naseem, Program Coordinator,
Blue Veins, Pakistan.