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Sunday, March 29, 2015

#NigeriaDecides2015; Are Women Against Their Kind?




The number of Nigerian women actively engaged in politics keeps increasing. Active participation by such amazons means better representation for women. However, it may be years before Nigerians – men and even women- would trust women vying for political offices enough to vote them into power.

Nigerians went to the polls yesterday, March 28, 2015, to elect who would lead and legislate for Africa’s most populous black nation for the next four years.

In one of the most highly contested presidential elections since the nation embraced democracy, again, in 1999, the presidential contest pitches the incumbent, President Jonathan Goodluck of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) against a retired general, General Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress (APC).

Although the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has extended the elections for another day, there is a general sense of optimism in the continued fairness and transparency with which the elections are being conducted. And, that is a good thing given the unnecessary tension in the run-up to the election.

In Lagos, the nation’s economic capital, Festac Town precisely, where I registered to vote, the election was peaceful, fair and transparent.

The polling booths of the three units I monitored were fairly accessible to Persons with Disabilities (PWDs). Security personnel’s, although sparse, could be seen observing the proceedings.
Officials of INEC arrived at about 9:00am bearing accreditation as well as voting materials.

Of the 734 persons registered to vote at the polling booth where I registered, only 230 were accredited, 8 persons had minor issues were asked to fill out incident forms before they were allowed to cast their votes, totalling 238 persons who voted.
 
There was a lot of excitement as voting officially commenced. Akamu Rama Mohammed, a visually impaired senior citizen was accompanied to the polling booth and assisted by his son in casting his votes. He said, “I am excited about this election and being allowed to vote. Four years ago, I voted by myself because I could still see, I was worried they would not allow me vote this time because I brought my son to help me.”

Speaking on his hopes on the outcome of the elections, he continues “The doctors say I have cataract and I need to operate it so that I can see again. I do not have the money. I pray the outcome of this election provides free medical services so that I can see again.”

Women Showed Up In Their Throngs

Very prominent amongst the electorate here were women of all ages.

Not only did they arrive promptly at about 8:00am for their accreditation, they stayed to vote and waited until their votes were counted at about 7:00pm before leaving the polling unit.

Helen, an 18 year old girl who voted for the first time yesterday was all smiles. “I feel important, I feel powerful. I have a say in my future. I am seeking admission into the university; I came out to vote because I do not want to experience ASUU strike when I get into the university.”

Election Results

The ruling party, PDP got 127 votes; the major opposition party, APC got 87 votes while Kowa party, the only political party with a woman running for the office of the president received just 2 votes in the presidential polls.

 
12 women and 8 men whom I chose randomly to interview all expressed their respect and admiration for Prof. Remi Sonaiya, the KOWA Party’s presidential candidate, although they did not vote for her. When I asked them why they did not vote for her, the men’s responses were similar “How can a woman say she wants to lead a country? What does that turn her husband and men into?”

The women said they did not trust her with such responsibility even though she seems capable. One reported “Something is just wrong with the picture… a woman ruling a nation.”

Women’s Bias Towards Women In Politics

Women, not trusting other woman whom they hitherto agreed has all the right qualities of a good leader with the task of leading a nation, may be a reflection of women’s views and attitudes towards themselves, and how, over the years, they have internalized the ideas of patriarchy.

By preferring to settle, to fit in, not rattling the status quo and by allowing men lead even when, after careful consideration, they believe themselves and/or other women capable of leading, women are denying the divinity of the feminine.

Going further to make comments such as ‘something is just wrong with the picture...’ goes to show how years of gender inequality, subjugation and suppression has recruited more women into the patriarchal clan and notion of leadership.

What else could be right with the picture?
 
A society with entrenched patriarchy leading it would only crumble; women and men should uplift competent women where is qualified to lead. Women are not unequal to men.

Friday, March 27, 2015

#NigeriaDecides2015; My Message to Nigerians


 
Nigerians, home and abroad. What a significant time in the trajectory of our young democracy this is.


We are at a defining moment in our democracy and we all - present in this time have the privilege of playing a role in shaping our nations destiny.


I was discussing with a colleague earlier and he said “Nigeria is preparing for her first democratic elections…” and I could not agree more.


The last few months have showed us a glimpse of what a true democracy could be, should be. Though we are many years away from upholding the tenets of a true democracy, there is no gainsaying that we are in the right direction.


Political office aspirants have been busy, rigorously canvassing for our votes, persuading us to trust their promises, making us feel and believe that for the first time, our votes will count.



This feeling has being empowering.



 

In a few hours, the presidential polls will open, paving the way for all of us, eligible voters to chart the course of our future. We have that much power at our disposal, and I suggest we use it very wisely.



“…there is only one team in this ‘game’ and it is ‘#TeamNigeria.”


 

As we go to the polls to exercise our constitutional right and civic duty, let us think unity and oneness of purpose.



Let us bear in mind that there is only one team in this ‘game’ and it is ‘#TeamNigeria.



Let us think carefully before making insidious and inflammatory comments that may insight others to violence, let us think about the common space that we share, this space that holds us all together – Nigeria.



Let us remember that a true democracy neither begins at the polls nor does it end at the polling booth, it is a continuous process. We must defend and protect our votes, and even after the winners have being declared, we must remember and be prepared to hold them accountable for their actions and/or inactions.



Let us hunger alone for a taste of justice and truth.




It is my utmost wish that the outcome of this election bring peace, progress and prosperity to all Nigeria and all Nigerians.



May God Bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.



Nigeria... Good People, Great Nation.

Sunday, March 08, 2015

International Women's Day 2015. ASHA Advocates for Girls Rights to Education.

International Women's Day 2015. ASHA Advocates for Girls Rights to Education
March 8, 2015

“…there shall be no bridging the gender equity gap if women are still being bullied or brow beaten into dropping out of school for their brothers neither can we attain gender equality if women and girls seeking education become victims to reprisals.“ Vweta Chadwick
 
Education for girls and women is still considered a tall order in some parts of the world. Despite interventions designed to tackle this, many, especially those living in poor and war/violence stricken countries and communities still lack access to basic education.
 
In Ajegunle, for example,a community where Project ASHA’s Empowering Women of the Future (EWOF) project has worked with women and girls for the last three years, girls right to education is still considered a luxury by many. Some parents consider it ‘bad investment’ to send their girls to school up to the secondary level let alone the tertiary, preferring to pay the fees of their brothers, in their words “She will marry and be another man’s property.”
 
Read the full story on Project ASHA's website.

Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Women and Girls Online: Mitigating Risk of Grooming and Abuse.

ASHA Empowerment and Development Initiative organized a one day workshop in Ajegunle on 28 February to train women and girls on safety and security concerns online.
 
Facilitators at this workshop were: Barr Titi Akosa, Executive Director, Centre for 21 Century Issues; Mrs Emmanuella Akinola, Director of Media and Publicity, Disability Policy Advocacy Initiative and Ms. Vweta Chadwick, Global Programmes Director, ASHA Empowerment and Development Initiative.
 

Sunday, March 01, 2015

In Solidarity with the Chibok Girls


 
 
On April 14 2014, almost 300 Nigerian schoolgirls were abducted from their school dormitory in the middle of the night. There has been reports of subsequent abductions of girls and women in North Eastern Nigeria as a form of deterrent to girls education.


These crimes against humanity, against women has not left the world in general and Nigerians in particular, unscarred. As concerned global citizens we refuse to accept this as the norm, as a way of life whether in Africa, or in Asia or even the Americas. Unhindered access to education is a right that every woman and girl should enjoy without fear of reprisal.


When words fail, as they do at times like these, we find other mediums to express our outrage, our pains, our hopes.
 
Read the full press release here.
 
Watch the video on ASHA TV

Friday, October 17, 2014

Week of Action against Domestic Violence in Lagos State: Day 5 – Community Outreach at Isale Eko Local Government Council, Adeniji Adele, Lagos Island


A large crowd of women and men gathered this morning at the Local Government Council where they were sensitized on Domestic violence.

Interpreters were engaged throughout the sessions, as many of those in attendance did not understand English.

 

This community outreach was led by the Chairperson of LASGAT, Dr Keziah Awoshika and the State coordinator, Barr Titilope Akosa.

 

You can view the pictures using #AADV #LASGAT or by visiting the LASGAT facebook page.