Theme: “FROM RHETORIC TO ACTION: GENDER CHAMPIONS SPEAK FOR WOMEN’S POLITICAL INCLUSION”
1.1 The Press Conference to mark the 2017 International Women’s Day was held on 2nd March, 2017 at the Chelsea Hotel, Central Area, Abuja, with the theme: From Rhetoric to Action: Gender Champions Speak for the Women’s Political Inclusion.
2.2 The Conference was declared open at 10:34 a.m with the singing of the National Anthem and followed by introduction of members of the High table which included the following: –
- Erelu Bisi Adeleye-Fayemi – Chair, Advisory Board, NWTF
- Ebere Ifendu – President, WIPF
- Binta MasiGarba
- Elizabeth Ativie
- Iyom Josephine Anenih
- Nkoyo Toyo
- Remi Sonaiya
- Mohammed LawalNalado – Chairman, IPAC – represented by Chief Sam Eke
- Olufunke Baruwa – CEO, NWTF
3.0 WELCOME REMARKS
3.1 Mrs. Olufunke Baruwa, Chief Executive Office, Nigerian Women’s Trust Fund welcomed all participants to the Conference. She said that the purpose of the Conference was for the mobilization of women for 2017 International Women Day coming up this month, and appreciated everybody present especially those on the high table for championing the women’s fund. She said that Women’s Fund was set up in 2011 with the aim of bridging the gap on gender issues, and decried the shortage of women in the parliaments, pointing out that presently, no single woman was elected as a Governor in any state of Nigeria concluding that the conference would suggest the way forward for women to champion increase for 2019 elections.
4.0 KEYNOTE ADDRESS
4.1 Keynote Address with the topic: From Rhetoric to Action – A Call for Women’s Political Inclusion was delivered by H.E. Erelu Bisi Adeleye-Fayemi, Chair, Advisory Board, NWTF. She also welcomed all present and suggested the following as issues for discussion:-
4.1.1 Need for national consciousness. She said that there is the need for national consciousness on the part of all women in Nigeria.Women should not be contended with their present position or number in governance.
4.1.2 Women must work hard to fill the gap in political appointments and elections with the men. In doing this, competency and passion must not be compromised.
4.1.3 Those that have political will to champion issues especially issues concerning women should be motivated, encouraged and supported.
4.2 In concluding, she proposed the following as Call for Action
4.2.1 Urgent passage of Equal and Gender Opportunity Bill pending with the National Assembly;
4.2.2 Need for Federal, States and Local Governments to implement existing laws concerning women empowerment and equal opportunities across the country. She regretted that it is only Ekiti State that has implemented this law;
4.2.3 Political Parties should, as a matter of policy allocates challenging positions to women.
4.2.4 Mobilization for women with passion for political appointments and elections must be a duty for all womenfolk. However, this passion should not be for selfish purpose. It should be to help other women to grow politically.
4.2.5 Every woman must demonstrate absolute support and contribute for The Nigerian Women’s Trust Fund.
5.0 GOODWILL MESSAGES
5.2 Mrs. Ebere Ifendu, President, Women In Politics Forum (WIPF) thanked all present and said that WIPF has been involved in conjunction with other partners in mentoring and sensitizing women holding political positions for increase in women participation in politics. She challenged the women present to come up with concrete and workable agenda that will evolve all women.
5.3. Country Director IRI, Mr. Sentell Barnes told the Conference that his organization have been working with women to develop their capacity and vulnerable youths. He promised to continue to work with the Nigerian Women’s Trust Fund.
5.4 Representative of NDI expressed happiness with the organizers of the programme while that of NBC promised to ensure that violent against women areproperly documented. She assured the conference that her organization will continue to partner with other relevant organizations to promote women participation in politics.
6.0 CALL FOR ACTION – GENDER CHAMPIONS
6.1 Sen. Binta MasiGarba called on all women to see themselves as champions when it comes to women in politics bearing how women has been discriminated. She challenged every woman present to be proud of yourselves irrespective of what they were going through in their respective political parties. She said that discrimination is a global issue and the answer to it is forming a strong circle against it stressing that for a woman to be a good politician, she must be upright. She recalled her experiences during her early political days and how she was greatly discriminated against by a man she was working with. She encouraged every woman politician not to give up pointing out that she succeeded during her second attempt in contesting political position. Finally, she encouraged women politicians to come to the levels of other women at the grass root and win their confidenceby eat their foods, drink their water, sing their songs, speak their languages and wear the same materials with them. She urged women to stand up and match men bumper to bumper and stop fighting against themselves.
6.2 In her own address, Hon. MulikatAkandeAdeola welcomed all the women present and expressed pleasure for seeing women in respectable political positions. She called on the women to do more to advance their course adding that she is one of the woman politician that has continued to advocate for 30% women election/appointment into key position in governance. She encouraged the women not to shy away from political participation pointing that, though sometimes, the men can make the terrain to be rough. She assured of her continued contribution to ensure increase in women mentoring and sensitization.
6.3 Rt. Hon. Elizabeth Ativie called for specific action to tackle the issues that will be identified during this conference. She suggested for formation of committees to sensitize women to contribute according to one’s capacity. She urged Women at the National Assembly to push harder for enactment of the equal gender opportunity bill, pointing out that when it is passed at the National Assembly, it will be easier to be passed at the State Assemblies. She expressed regrets that some Civil Society Organizations are not seriously committed on the issue of women education and mobilization as it was from the beginning accusing them of paying more attention to their personal interests only and encouraged them to go back to their original vision.
6.4 In her own contribution, Iyom Josephine Anenih challenged the women saying that it is their commitments that can change the rhetoric. She questioned the women’s courage, their fighting spirit and power to control many situations saying that there would be no head without the neck.
6.5 Prof. Remi Sonaiye said that it is time to read riot acts to the men to appoint/elect women in challenging positions as earlier suggested, stressing that women should abandon any political party that discriminates against them, pointing out that time has come for women to rise and say enough is enough to the men politicians.
6.6 Hon. Nkoyo Toyo suggested for strong support for a platform where issues/ideas affecting women politicians are aggregated. She called on the participants to focus and work on two levels: ensure implementation of laws already passed and work on the ones outstanding. She encouraged all women to stand up and fight against women violent pointing out that nobody can speak on issues affecting women except the women themselves.
6.7 Alh. Mohammed LawalNalado (Represented by ChiefOgbuehi, Publicity Secretary, IPAC) apologized for the absent of his Chairman. He told the participants that the Chairman’s absence was because he travelled for a burial ceremony. He expressed that when women are given opportunity, they could perform even more than the men. He decried that no registered political party in Nigeria has a women as a Treasurer, and promised that IPAC would work so that e-voting will be encouraged in the subsequent elections as women are mostly targets during election violent andvowed that IPAC would accelerate action on implementation of Electoral Acts, enactment of gender bills and implement of decisions that would be reached during this conference.
7.0 QUESTIONS FROM THE PRESS/PARTICIPANTS
7.1 A participant said that funding has been a great obstacle especially to the women and wanted to know how women could have a single account to fund all women participating in politics. Secondly, she wants to know how Civil Society Organizations could help the women politicians have access to the press with minimal cost.
7.2 Rt. Hon. Adingi commended all the Gender Champions and proposed for a formation of lobbyist group, that all funds that would be contributed should be moved to the lobbyist group for mobilization and requested that the contribution should start immediately. Finally, she suggested that women should protest to the National Assembly for amendment of Constitution and other electoral acts that negatively affects women.
7.3 In response, H.E. Erelu Bisi Adeleye-Fayemi praised Iyom Anenih for being one of the architects behind the formation of NWTF and at this juncture, Iyom Anenih got standing ovation. She gave a brief history of the NWTF and called for total support for the fund so that many women politicians could benefit.
7.4 HawaGimba – NTA asked for who is qualified to access the funds? How much could be given to a potential woman politician?
7.5 In her response, Mrs. Olufunke Baruwa, CEO of the NWTF said that there is no ceiling to what could be given to any potential woman politician, pointing out that how much to be given depends on the resources available and the willingness of individuals to contribute to the fund.
7.6 At this juncture, the participants left for a courtesy visit to the IPAC.
8.0 COURTESY CALL TO INTER-PARLIAMENTARY ADVISORY COUNCIL (IPAC)
8.1 The President of Women In Politics Forum (WIPF), Barr. Ebere Ifendu led other women on a courtesy call to the Office of the Inter-Parliamentary Advisory Council (IPAC). The purpose was to present the Conference Charter to the Council for their consideration and implementation and also pay them solidarity visit.
8.2 The participants were received at the IPAC by Chief Ogbuehi, the Public Secretary, on behalf of the National Chairman who was absent as a result of bereavement. Participants and members of IPAC took turns and introduce themselves.
8.3 At this point, the Conference Charter was presented to the members of IPAC and was received by Chief Ogbuehi, the Publicity Secretary, on behalf of the Council. Highlights of the Charter were as follows:-
- 35% affirmative action for women in political parties in the areas of
– Party candidacy
– Party executives
– Party nominations
- Abolish delegate system and institute Option A4
- Minimize candidacy imposition
- Commit to prosecuting all offenders of violence within political environments.
8.4 After the presentation, the Publicity Secretary thanked the participants and promised to work on the limitations affecting the women especially funding. He reiterated his earlier call for electronic voting emphasizing that most violent during voting emanates from the men. He urged the women to raise their voices at the National Assembly and at their various political parties. He also discouraged the idea of reserving some certain positions in the political parties to the men only and urged the women not to see themselves as second class citizens when it comes to political positions, stressing that, if men can do it, women can equally do it better, reiterating that there is no head without a neck.
8.5 Finally, he assured the participants of the IPAC support and commitment to their course. He also presented to the National President, WIPF, a copy of their Bulletin entitled: “Political Behaviours During Election.”
8.6 The President, WIPF, thanked IPAC for worm reception and promised that her Forum will study the Bulletin carefully. She decried the accommodation problem the Fund is facing and called for stronger collaboration with IPAC. She invited IPAC to public hearing coming up soon in Abuja for them to come and make strong case as it concerns women in politics.
8.7 At the end of the visit, participants took group photograph with members of the IPAC and refreshment was served.
- THE WAY FORWARD/CALL FOR ACTION
9.1 At this juncture, the CEO, NWTF, suggested that as a way of wrap-up, the conference should come up with the way forward/call for action so that NWTF could be sustained and remain vibrant.
- Highlights of suggestions on the way forward/call for action made at the Conference were as follows:-
- Need for women to set up a lobbyist group at National and State levels. Those to carry out this responsibility should see it as a call for service and should not expect any remuneration. Those recommended to be members of this group should include past President wives, past Senate President wives, past Hon. Speakers’ wives (both States and National)past Ministers’ wives etc.
- Women politicians should be seriously engaged to contribute to the Nigerian Women Trust Fund. As a way of serious commitment, this contribution should be deducted from their salaries and pay direct to the Women Fund account.
- Women politicians from each state should organize fund raising to generate enough funds to sponsor women during campaign and other political activities.
- There should be stronger synergy between past and present women office holders.
- Relationship between Office holders and Civil Society Organizations should be strengthened
- First Ladies of the States should be seriously engaged to lead the fight against women discrimination at State level.
- Women zonal meetings at the grass-root evolving artisans, traders, farmers, etc should be held. In this, peculiarities of each zone should be taken into consideration with respect to customs and traditions. The emphasis should be on women with excellent character.
- Any woman that wants to vie for any position in a political party should start early to campaign beginning from the wards. Such a woman should prove that she is worthy.
- Women should reject and abandon any political party that refuses to give them challenging positions. The position of women leader is not enough.
- On issue of fund raising to support the NWTF, the participants called for immediate action and this was supported. On the spot, the sum of N………………………………………… was raised. It was however emphasized that the contribution should not stop at the Conference, but a continuum. Each participant was asked to collect the account number of the NWTF and pay their donations/contributions direct to the bank.
10.0 At about 4.15 p.m., the Conference came to a close.