BY GLORIA USMAN, ABUJA – The Minister of Women Affairs, Mrs Pauline Tallen, has decried the low representation of women in leadership position in the country, stressing that the figure is unacceptable.

Tallen therefore advised women to be courageous and strategize to achieve 30 percent of women in position.

The minister, who stated these at a Roundtable co-organised by the Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre (PLAC), the House of Representatives Committee on Women in Parliament and the French Embassy in Nigeria, said her heart bleeds whenever she looks at the great women that abound in the country.

She said; “Women that are more capable to be there but were denied and that is why we have big battle before us against 2023. We must start early.”

Recalling when she contested for leadership position, Tallen said “when the result was declared, it was upturned at the tribunal. I went to the Court of Appeal, they went again and upturned it.

“I was threatened, my life threatened and my son was threatened, that we should withdraw, we should not go to the Supreme Court or I lose my Life. They said it wasn’t a judicial matter but political. The injustice on women is so much.

Tallen however, encouraged Nigerian women not to give the struggle, adding that the strength in women is too much as no man can stand the strength of a woman.

In her own remarks, chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Women in Parliament, Hon Taiwo Oluga (APC-Osun), appreciated the French embassy for their support, adding that efforts made by PLAC and other civil society organisations are making the journey for women in politics easier and smoother.

Oluga said that women have started the journey and they would surely there and therefore promised to follow up in the parliament to make sure more women are represented in the National Assembly in 2023.

Also speaking at the Roundtable, the chairperson, Nigerian Bar Association Women Forum, Prof. Oluyemisi Gbangboshe, said that the association is interested in issues affecting women across sectors, adding that the association is willing to contribute to drafting a bill that would give a voice to women in politics and increase participation ahead of 2023.

On her part, Aisha Dukku (APC-Gombe) and Chairman, House Committee on INEC and Political Party, said that she believed in the synergy between stakeholders, saying that there is need to relax and bring out the best of ideas that would boost women representation in politics.

In his own remarks, the Executive Director of PLAC, Mr Clement Nwakwo, said that Nigeria as the giant of Africa should set good examples for the continent, adding that the record on the number of women in parliament and politics in general is not encouraging.

Nwankwo said; “Ethiopia, Rwanda and South Africa have taken the lead in the area of women representation in politics.

“The killing of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Woman Leader in the Kogi November 16, governorship election could discourage women’s participation.”

He said that in view of the fact that the number of women in politics was constantly reducing, there is need for special measures to change the situation, stressing that there is need for legislators to facilitate constitutional amendments and come up with a mechanism that would enshrine quota system in the constitution.

The representative of the French Embassy in Nigeria at the event, Mr Raphael Pont, reaffirmed the commitment of the embassy to supporting human rights and gender equality.

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