WOMEN UNFAIRLY TREATED BY POLICY MAKERS â€“ JONATHAN
Wife of the President, Patience Jonathan, has bemoaned the political fate of Nigerian women, noting that they are the least represented at all levels of governance. Speaking at the national summit on women's participation in politics in Abuja, Jonathan said: 'It is a known fact that women have not had the desired and adequate representation in governance. This, is in spite of the fact that the Beijing world conference on women marked a turning point in the struggle for gender equality and affirmative action around the world.
'The United Nations declaration of 1976-1985 as the decade of women has not helped much either. Although governments have been streamlining the status of women, little has been achieved because policy makers around the world have been paying lip service to effective implementation of the various international laws.
'In Nigeria, there are only six women who are cabinet members. In the legislature, there are eight women senators out of the 109 members and 25 female members in the 306 members of the House of Representatives.
'Current statistics show that women occupy fewer than ten percent of positions in government in Nigeria. This is a far cry from the recommended 30 per cent which was later increased to 35 per cent by former President Olusegun Obasanjo in 1996,' Jonathan noted.
Appealing to lawmakers to ensure that they make necessary laws that will guarantee the full implementation of the 'Affirmative Action,' Jonathan implored all political parties to entrench it in their party constitution so that it would be part and parcel of our electoral process.
Admonishing women on the way forward, Jonathan said, 'women must come together, support ourselves and avoid the 'pull her down' syndrome since together we stand and divided we fall.
'We must register, come out to vote and not trade in our votes because the president has said in 2011, every vote counts.
'We must be bold enough to seek elective positions during elections and take advantage of our population as we constitute the majority of voters during elections. For those of us who are not going to contest, there is the need to give our financial and moral support to those willing to go for elections. We must also pray for them because as women, we excel in prayers and I believe with God, all things are possible,' she said.
While noting that stripped of the active participation of women at all levels of policy making, the goals of equality, development and peace cannot be achieved, Jonathan further called on Nigerian women to avoid violence and advise their children against being used as thugs during campaigns and elections.
'I urge you to please remember that no matter our political ambition or position, our husbands remain the head and we should not forget our roles as wives and mothers.
'This is the time for us to say 'here we are, count us in' because we are ready and willing. I enjoin all progressive-minded Nigerians that just as you once entrusted your lives in our care as mothers, you can be rest assured that we will equally deliver to you, a truly, just, fair and sustainable democracy if given the chance,' Jonathan concluded.