Politics: Still hard for women at the top

The lot of Nigerian women in the workplace has not always been pleasant. It is even more brutish in the political arena. Gender activists and other stakeholders gathered in Abuja recently to ponder their lot. Mrs. Rifkatu Samson Dannahn, the only female member of the Bauchi State House of Assembly, suspended for about one year from the House by her male colleagues, was the cynosure of many eyes at the Women in Parliament summit in Abuja penultimate week. Her circumstances were reflective of what many at the summit bewailed as the discrimination that has been the lot of many women in the political arena. Dannahn was suspended from the Bauchi State House of Assembly after she protested that her male colleagues reached an agreement to transfer the headquarters of the Tafawa Balewa Local council from the constitutionally stipulated location to another part of the local government at a secret meeting.

Arguably, the most brutal assault on the female gender is the case of Mrs. Patricia Etteh who was chased out as speaker of the House of Representatives by a male dominated coalition garbed in the shape of an anti-corruption group in the House in 2007. Etteh spent just about six months before the coalition with the name Integrity Group led by Hon. Farouk Lawan forged unity with conservative groups in the House to force her out on the allegation of initiating a contract which the Integrity Group led the public to believe had been awarded at a scandalous amount. Remarkably only months after Etteh resigned, the contract was awarded at a higher figure. Besides gender inequality, domestic violence was another matter that engaged the attention of many of the participants at the two-day summit. The summit was sponsored by the United Nations Development Programme’s  Democratic Governance for Development, DGD, Project, which has been actively involved in building capacity of the country’s democratic institutions.



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