by Gbenga Gbelee
Women have been charged to look inwards, work together and support each others’ aspirations so as to put a stop to the societal factors limiting the chances of the feminine gender in leadership positions and responsibilities.
Speaking at a Public Interaction facilitated by the British Council and held at the Faculty of Law of the University of Lagos, discussants and other resource persons argued for legislations and attitudinal reorientation which would guarantee freedom of expression and equal rights and privileges of participation in political and non political callings.
The event which held at the Faculty of Law Theatre of the University of Lagos had as theme; “Young Women’s pathways to Political Participation and Leadership” with the United Kingdom Secretary of State for Women Equities; Sarah Champion (Member of the British Parliament ) as the Lead Discussant.
She went down memory lane to recall the first woman elected into the British Parliament in 1918 and the steady increase over the decades which made her the 368th woman out of the 615 British Parliamentarians.
Sarah Champion said women population in the British Parliament as at date stands at 30 %, a milestone which resulted from deliberate policies formulated to give women the needed platform and support needed to clinch such enviable positions.
While acknowledging the remarkable progress of the feminine gender in the British judiciary with a population of about 37%, the British MP however expressed concerns over female deficit in fields such as Engineering, Architecture and Town planning among other pursuits, one which she said is not peculiar to the United Kingdom but other advanced and developing countries of the world.
Sarah Champion MP stressed the need for women especially those in the youthful age bracket to search deeply and discover what drives their passion, seek the right information and mentorship, and explore all available resources and platforms, especially the social media, to drive their ideas.
Her presentation centred on various issues about womanhood and the societal limitations to the feminine aspirations to occupy leadership positions with her personal experience as a reference point, she particularly harped on the need for women to mobilise support towards challenging and addressing the existing discriminations and limitations as well as instituting flexibility which would give room for balance in the discharge of leadership roles and other responsibilities as it involves women.
Earlier in her remarks, the Dean, Faculty of Law, University of Lagos, Professor Ayo Atsenuwa appreciated the British Council for looking in the direction of UNILAG for such public discussion.
She recalled her life changing interactions and experiences with the British Council several decades ago describing it as one which shaped her life in no small measure and prepared her for several tasks she has undertaken not minding her gender and societal limitations.
Prof Atsenuwa described the event as another platform to improve the leadership prospects of the participants and charged them to see the interaction with the British MP as an eye opener which should encourage and embolden them to confront any challenge posed by the society in any of their aspirations.
In his contribution, Professor Oyelowo Oyewo from the Faculty of Law spoke glowingly about the quality of women representation obtainable in Nigeria, He recalled his participation at the last Nigerian Constitution review exercise where Rights to Health, Education Environment and Housing were being canvassed for and how it took the intervention of Senator Folasade Bent being a member of the Senate committee for the Rights to Health and Education to scale through.
Professor Virgy Onyene from the Faculty of Education, UNILAG in her own contributions expressed hopes that someday, women will emerge as Chairmen of all the Local Government councils across the country, Prof Onyene therefore emphasised the need for women, being the bulk of voters in the Nigerian electoral system, to desist from being used as political crowd during electioneering campaigns and troop out to vote for every female aspirants during elections so as to drive home their point as better leaders as against the present notion of being perceived as weaker vessels and politically incompetent gender.