The Nigerian Minister of State, Federal Capital Territory FCT, Dr. Ramatu Tijjani Aliyu, has called on women in Africa region to unite in the fight against gender inequality and marginalization facing them in all spheres of life.
Aliyu made the call in a paper presentation at the just concluded 3rd edition of Africa Women Conference (AWC) held in Marakesh, Morocco, aimed at harnessing women’s potential for the growth and development of the continent.
The Minister however expressed delight that despite the challenges, many women who are holding key offices in Africa, have excelled in position of authorities and leadership that they have occupied.
The minister, who is also the President of the Council of African Political Parties, during the conference said the importance of women inclusion in all governance in Africa and proposed means through which more women could be supported to take up political leadership.
Our correspondent gathered panelists at the conference observed that certain steps should be taken to address issues affecting women in the continent.
According to the panelists, “Aside the Affirmative Action principle, processes should be explored making it constitutionally mandatory on governments of African countries to set aside certain percentage of the membership of their cabinets for women. This could be for a specific period of time to enable the gender balance philosophy become internalized in the body politic of African nations.
“The constitutions of political parties in African contries should enforce the principle of Affirmative Action by putting in place institutional mechanisms at various levels of its organs that will set aside a percentage of elective positions for women. This would ensure that women have favourable access to nomination processes that will enable them contest elections into all elective offices.
“Reduction in the cost of nomination forms as a measure to encourage greater women involvement is salutary and,
“The Electoral Authorities in African nations should enact stringent guidelines that will sanction political parties that do not meet their party guidelines with regard to their non-compliance with relevant provisions enhancing access of women to elective offices through a women gender friendly nomination process.
Other measures include, “Education of the girl child should be pursued with greater vigour. Cultural barriers and stereotypes which adversely hinder access of the girl child to functional education, at all levels of the educational rung, should be tackled with vigour.
“Knowledge is key to effective women participation in the political process, especially in a post-colonial Africa whose economy is becoming increasingly knowledge driven. Women must show compelling intellectual capacity to provide visionary leadership that will help African nations defeat poverty, create wealth, create jobs and enhance prosperity.
“Civil Society Organizations and faith-based institutions should pursue with greater vigour, a vigorous advocacy campaign in African countries that will seek to change the perception among Africans, especially the males, who regard the role of the women in society as essentially limited to domestication. This will help unleash the women from such stereotypes and embolden their resolute participation in elective processes.
“Access to funds needed to mobilize support during campaigns should be liberalized. Electioneering Campaigns are expensive in every sense. Women are usually worse hit as most of them do not have enough financial capability to withstand the rigours of campaigns and,
“Access to special financial grants and other forms of institutional support for women running for various elective offices should be put in place by African countries.”
The conference was organize by an Abuja based women group, Helpline Foundation for the Needy, in collaboration with other women group to provide a platform for African women from the formal and non-formal sectors of the economic.