I have followed the president’s progress in the area of women empowerment for quite a while now. To some, my reason for doing so may not be far-fetched; I am a woman. While that may account for part of my interest, it is a bit beyond that. I found that past presidents did involve women to a degree, so I was a bit curious about what successive governments would do to improve on what had been done in the past. I have found that so far, President Jonathan has done more for the Nigerian woman than others before him. As a woman, this is most encouraging because it tells me that our leader is a man who understands that in any nation and any government, women also have key roles to play in improving the lifestyle of their people and governance in their nation.
Several news media have carried reports on the increasing level of women empowerment in Nigeria; this is to the president’s credit. Under this administration, women in Nigeria have achieved an impressive level of participation in our socio-economic life. Even more encouraging is that this achievement has extended towards politics as well. More and more women are getting involved in politics these days. We have more women aspiring for public office and even more women actively forming a remarkable body of the electorate. More women lobbyists and activists are springing up too; giving expression to the needs of the people, but that is just an aside.
On the side of governance, the federal government, under the leadership of Mr. President ensured that entrenched in his Transformation Agenda is a National Gender Policy in which women empowerment in politics forms a constituent. The government has so far ensured that there is growing awareness among women on the possibilities that lie ahead of them in active participation in politics and governance. To further encourage women to actively get involved, a Political Trust Fund has been established to support women aspiring for political positions.
To the best of my understanding, Jonathan has not empowered women thus far because he is canvassing for our votes. We have a leader who has such explicit faith in Nigerian women; and Nigerian women have delivered. If ever I was proud to be a Nigerian woman, it is at this time. With the execution of his Gender Policy, we have witnessed an increase in women’s representation in government from 10% in 2011 to 35% in 2013. He has employed three female Justices in the Supreme Court; 16 female heads of ministries; nine female special advisers; 12 female permanent secretaries, 26 female heads of federal government parastatals; 29 female federal commissioners; 16 female heads of federal tertiary institutions; four female representatives in international multi-lateral organizations and 12 female ambassadors and high commissioners. This is commendable indeed!
Whatever else he may be called, I now call our president The Women’s Champion. No other president has championed our cause like he has, no other president has endorsed us like he has, no other president has entrusted us with great responsibilities like he has, and no other has been as proud of our achievements like he has. He is not intimidated by the recorded successes of the women around him, rather he lauds their efforts and gives the credit to them. He is a man’s man. President Jonathan’s administration, in the history of Nigeria, has given the greatest opportunities to women to express themselves…after all, a woman just wrote this.
• Ebun Asagbe, Ado-Ekiti