Beyond reverse discrimination, By Bolutife Oluwadele

0


The participation of women in politics ought not to attract any debate, if not for the noticed tendency towards reverse discrimination. All the same, the growth of the army of women in politics is a necessary development. We should do all things possible to ensure that this is not hindered in any way. It is about time women in Nigeria step out to be counted, more so at this juncture when the nation’s ship is sliding towards a precarious but avoidable precipice.

Ordinarily, if one were to go by the maxim that we are all political animals, then the issue of women in politics would require no discussion. More so, since women are also inherently political. However, political participation requires more than a proclamation of interest. Hence, the role of women in Nigeria will continue to attract exciting contemplation and scholarship.

Effective participation in politics entails seeking political office through the mandate of an electorate. It extends to assuming partnership with the political parties in vogue. The aspiration to the leadership of the people is of a representative status. However, Nigerian politics is characterised by so much drama that makes its terrain rather muddy and its voltage highly volatile. Our political institution breeds violence, thuggery, electoral heist/rigging, acrimony, blackmail, and outright disregard for decency, which is supposed to be a sine qua non in leadership.

Political participation also entails involvement in the less glamorous aspect, which is strategic thinking. Although political strategists constitute the backbone of many political parties, they are scarcely ‘visible’ to the general public. The involvement of women as strategists is one of the many ways they can influence politics and, more specifically, policymaking. We do know that many policies in our clime are so anti-women, and that their involvement as strategists may in no time help in reversing this ugly trend. It can also align them with women in other climes who have become accustomed to strategic participation in politics.

While it is agreed that there is no permanent friendship in politics, as much as in diplomacy, except permanent interest, glaringly there exists permanent hatred in Nigerian politics. A cursory observer of Nigerian politics, without even being a student of political history, knows quite well that the totality of our personalities is dragged into politics, for better, and particularly for worse.

…today the situation is changing. Many of our women are becoming highly educated and achieving more remarkable successes on their own. The new development should become the stabilising pad to assert themselves in the main political arena, beyond tokens handed down to women leaders through time. As such, we need women of goodwill to step up into the ring and rescue our sinking ship as a nation.

Against the backdrop of the customary and even religious restriction of the participation of women in Nigerian politics, the probable prospects and the need to engage with the problems to be encountered become highly critical. Yet, given the current visibility of women in the decision-making levels of corporate organisations, which were once the exclusive preserve of men, women in politics should brace to shatter the ubiquitous glass ceiling that has constrained them.

Some women, albeit very few, have participated actively in matters affecting the populace from the pre-colonial times. They have fought oppression, the perceived or actual injustices that made incursions into what the people hold dear to their hearts. The Aba women, in 1929, were a focal point in this regard. They protested against what they perceived as the unfair imposition of taxation on women. Of course, we cannot forget the roles of Madam Funmilayo Ransome Kuti, the firebrand nonconformist, who remained a thorn in the flesh of authorities, and then military juntas. There and then, there have been some sporadic emergence of women in leadership. Nevertheless, today the situation is changing. Many of our women are becoming highly educated and achieving more remarkable successes on their own. The new development should become the stabilising pad to assert themselves in the main political arena, beyond tokens handed down to women leaders through time. As such, we need women of goodwill to step up into the ring and rescue our sinking ship as a nation.

Heartwarmingly, many of them are coming up to offer themselves for services, as more women are invading the slippery terrain of politics, almost daily.

However, as much as this idea is a welcome development, there is the fact that in some instances undue emphasis is given to gender difference as the main reason for some women’s entry into politics. Women persuaded by this point of view seem to be saying that they are going in essentially to fight discrimination against women and their oppression by men. Hence the stage is beginning to look like some extension of the women’s liberation movement, and not a coordinated effort towards improved governance. This could portend great danger to democracy, if the only focus is to replace discrimination with reverse discrimination.

As many women step up to be counted, there is no doubt that they would still need the support of the menfolk. Therefore, it would be counterproductive if ‘combative’ feminism holds sway in the political arena. It is on good record that many men today align with fairness-minded feminism. Such men can be counted as partners in progress with women of goodwill to dismantle the dysfunction in our political sphere.

If the phenomenon is left unchecked, we will be experiencing a disturbing form of political vendetta in this country, and our search for a stable democracy would continue to be a mirage. I sincerely believe that women should go into politics, if only they strongly believe in their capabilities for leadership. They should come out flaunting their strong points and credentials, other than merely emphasising their gender difference as the primary criterion for involvement in politics. The essence of women in politics should be to display better alternatives to the ‘unproductive’ male domination of the public sphere, and not to just seek the vendetta of putting men in their place, no matter how attractive this could be.

As many women step up to be counted, there is no doubt that they would still need the support of the menfolk. Therefore, it would be counterproductive if ‘combative’ feminism holds sway in the political arena. It is on good record that many men today align with fairness-minded feminism. Such men can be counted as partners in progress with women of goodwill to dismantle the dysfunction in our political sphere.

While there have been reported cases of women who made it to the top only to become heady, very bossy, and unnecessarily intoxicated by the power of their offices, it would not be fair to place all women in this category. Also, inasmuch as we are still awed by the sheer scale of alleged ‘looting’ attributed to the likes of the former Petroleum Minister, Diezani Allision Madueke, revealing that women could be as problematic in public office as the men, such should equally not be a yardstick for all womenfolk. More terrible men exist, and yet we have not precluded men from politics. As much as Nigerian politics does not need any dictator, we should be careful not to silence our women on the basis of unfair stereotyping.

The participation of women in politics ought not to attract any debate, if not for the noticed tendency towards reverse discrimination. All the same, the growth of the army of women in politics is a necessary development. We should do all things possible to ensure that this is not hindered in any way. It is about time women in Nigeria step out to be counted, more so at this juncture when the nation’s ship is sliding towards a precarious but avoidable precipice.

Bolutife Oluwadele, a chartered accountant and a public policy and administration scholar, writes from Canada. He is the author of Thoughts of A Village Boy and can be reached through: bolutife.oluwadele@gmail.com  

Support PREMIUM TIMES’ journalism of integrity and credibility

Good journalism costs a lot of money. Yet only good journalism can ensure the possibility of a good society, an accountable democracy, and a transparent government.

For continued free access to the best investigative journalism in the country we ask you to consider making a modest support to this noble endeavour.

By contributing to PREMIUM TIMES, you are helping to sustain a journalism of relevance and ensuring it remains free and available to all.

Donate


TEXT AD: To advertise here . Call Willie +2347088095401…





PT Mag Campaign AD





Visit Original Source link