By Stanley Onyekwere
One of the conveners of Africa Women’s Conference, Helpline Foundation for the Needy, an Abuja-based Non Governmental Organisation (NGO), has decried the low number of women in the ministerial list of President Muhammadu Buhari for screening by the Nigerian senate.
The group noted that though there is marginal increase in the number of women when compared to the last cabinet, the ministerial list still felt short of global best practices and below the expectation of Nigerian women.
Speaking to a section of journalists over the weekend, President of Helpline Foundation for the Needy, Dr. Jumai Ahmadu, expressed dissatisfaction over what she described as “overbearing influence of male politicians” in the country.
She urged president Buhari to take action on existing commitments and obligations with respect to the realization of gender equality in line with Commission on the Status of Women, CSW 62 Bureau by appointing more women in Agencies and Parastatals.
Ahmadu argued that if more women are appointed in some agencies and parastatals, it will create room for empowerment of rural women and girls, thereby bridging the gap of gender disparity in the country.
“While we commend President Muhammadu Buhari, for the marginal progress made by scaling-up female ministerial nominees to seven when compared to four in the last cabinet, we are still not happy with the overbearing influence of male politicians in Nigeria.
“We say this with all sense of responsibility that all the registered political parties in Nigeria felt short of our expectations. From the primaries to the general elections, women were not given the opportunity to excel.
“As one of the conveners of Africa Women’s Conference in New York and Namibia, we have stressed the urgency of eliminating structural barriers and discriminatory laws and policies, gender stereotypes and negative social norms to enable rural women and girls to respond to challenges and seize opportunities for change.
“This objective can only be achieved with the appointment of more women in key positions. Sadly, this is not the case with the ministerial list before the 9th Senate. However, we are hopeful that the president Buhari will right the wrongs by appointing more women in key Agencies and Parastatals in subsequent appointments,” Ahmadu stated.
She also commended the senate for the respect accorded to female nominees during the screening by allowing them to take a bow and go, but called on the lawmakers not to extend such gesture to their male counterparts