It was an outstanding display of knowledge by Dr. Ramatu Tijjani Aliyu, FCT Minister of State, yesterday in Morocco at the Marakesh Women Summit. Speaking at the event, the Hon. Minister disclosed that:
(1) 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 internalised in the body politics of African nations.
(2) The constitutions of political parties in African Counties 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. However, more needs to be done.
(3) 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.
(4) 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 vehement 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.
(5) Civil Society Organisations 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.
(6) Access to funds needed to mobilise support during campaigns should be liberalised. 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. 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.