Stereotype, negative perception hindering participation of women in politics – Stakeholders

By Deborah Hassan

365Daily –  More Nigerian women will participate in politics when negative stereotypes, perception and other challenges are eliminated, stakeholders have said.

They assured that when this is done, there will be more representation and participation of women in leadership positions.

The call was made during the public presentation of the book, ‘Politics, X  & Power,’ written by Adaora Onyechere Sydney-Jack, a popular broadcast journalist, gender activist and Executive Director of Gender Strategy Advancement International (GSAI), on Thursday, March 21, 2024, in Abuja.

In her remarks, one of the stakeholders, the Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Nkeiruka Onyejeocha, called for more participation of women in leadership roles, saying God has prepared them for such assignments.

She went further to reprimand women who engage in  ‘pull down syndrome’ where they work against the success of fellow women in leadership positions, while urging them to show support for such women in their communities.

“Women should be treated with all sense of responsibility. We are very important people created by God and we should not be put down either in politics or power,” she said.

On her part, the book reviewer, Amina Salihu, noted that until men shift ground and make sacrifices by giving chance and space to women, fifty ( 50) percent of its population will not be able to meet their potentials, which is counter productive for the development of the country.

She said, “Nobody holds down fifty of their population which is women and you hope to make progress. The person held down, the person holding down, everybody will be performing at less of their optimum.”

In his address, the keynote speaker, the Director General of the National Institute for Legislative and Democratic Studies (NILDS), Abubakar Suleiman,  noted that some of the challenge in achieving true gender parity in politics include patriarchy (cultural barriers), deep-rooted stereotypes and biases against women, financial constraints, among others.

However, he  continued, as societies evolve and progress over time, a push for greater gender equality in politics from official and unofficial quarters such as the book written by Sydney-Jack, has resulted in more women breaking barriers and assuming leadership positions previously limited to men.

Commenting on the book, he stated, “First, though there are many books that seek to address politics and power, Adaora’s is quite truly uncommon and unique.  Predicated upon the gender perspective, the book is unarguably refreshing, going beyond the smokescreen to demonstrate the intricate connections of women, sex and power relation in the governance framework of our society. The book challenges us to think critically about the nature of power, its manifestations, as well as the manipulations of sex as an instrument of political domination in various political systems, and its impact on society at large,” Abubakar said.

Former Imo State Governor, Emeka Ihedioha, in his remarks, asked women to be more supportive to the cause of their fellow women.

He noted, “Oftentimes, when a lady contests for election, I will use the case of Sarah Jubril for instance.  She came to run for President. The Minister of Women Affairs voted against her at the convention.  I am sure women leader,  if you have that opportunity, you may do the same today.”

Addressing the book, the author, Adaora Onyechere Sydney-Jack said she ventured into politics with the view to bridge the gap between the leadership and the led but find herself in the murky water of politics.

“With every chapter, I can tell you that I wrote this book out of my deep concern for the shrinking spaces for women’s participation, the looming resignation and the distorted and negative gender identities emboldened by socialisation for a long period of time,” Adaora said,

Speaking further, she added, “I wrote this book not just as a reference to every individual who believes that for Nigeria, full circle means to have a country where everyone counts and all citizens have a true stake, but to revisit our convictions of who can be.

“Interestingly, this book was already in pictures in my mind’s eye after daring to run in the 2019 elections, which I call baptism of fire, wind and rain. A journey I refer to as the uncovering of the wool over my eyes, especially as I journeyed between two worlds that of active journalism and the underbelly of politics where I experienced a complex variety of a new kind of participation which were previously unknown to me as a broadcast journalist.”

Other dignitaries present at the event include a former Governor of Cross River State, Liyel Imoke; National Women Leader the Peoples Democratic Party  ( PDP ), Hon. Amina Divine Arong; Actress Monalisa Chinda; Media executives, Leaders of Civil Society Organisations and others.

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