Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Political participation key to women empowerment - Eunice Thomas

Political participation key to women empowerment - Eunice Thomas

The quest to empower the Nigerian woman will not achieve it’s desired goals and objectives until Nigerian women themselves rise up and become  actively and directly involved in the politics of governance in the country so as to become key players in the formulation and implementation of government policies and programmes that will uplift and empower the women . 

This is the Gospel according to Hon Mrs Eunice Thomas, a former Commissioner for Women Affairs and Education in Akwa Ibom state.
Mrs Thomas who was a guest speaker at an annual gathering of Christian Women under the auspices of “The Princess Forum”, at the conference hall of the Ann’s Haven Hotel, Shelter Afrique in Uyo last Friday said, only by women becoming actively involved in decision making rather than being onlookers in the process of policy initiation, formulation and implementation will the hope of empowering the women become a reality. 
The former Commissioner who spoke on the topic, “Women Empowerment - The Real Deal”, regretted the poor participation of Akwa Ibom women in the just concluded general election especially into the state legislature, decrying that the poor representation women in the incoming Assembly will greatly hamper the prospects of repositioning the women for greater competitiveness.  “If you have twenty six state constituencies and you have just one woman, how does she then represents us? How does she fights?  It is difficult to fight twenty five men when you are not the Speaker even if you were. How then do you empower the woman who has 35% in her weakness against the men who have 65% in their strength? “,she asked. 

Mrs Thomas called on the women to be prepared for empowerment and political participation by accessing themselves and be prepared to be empowered. She noted that the A B C of a woman accessing herself are Appearance, Behaviour and Communication, describing these three key qualities as the benchmark upon which empowerment can be derived from. “As a woman you must ask yourselves how do I appear, how do I behave, and how do I communicate. As a woman, rap up your feminism, present yourself well. Do not go overboard, control your temper, take things easy but remain firm “,she admonished. 

She noted with delight that the average woman is already spiritually empowered but regretted that what is remaining now is financial and political empowerment of the woman and called for legislations  that will grant women easy access to funds, reduce cumbersome and obnoxious laws and practices against widows, domestication of international treaties and conventions in a manner that guarantee women’s safety, protection and empowerment as well as equity in political participation in government. 

The ex commission called on wives of legislators to use their vantage positions to help influence their spouse to enact laws that will advance the course of women in the country and advocated for constructive lobby and moral persuasion as means to achieve desired results. While calling on women to be informed and up to date with global trends in order to be able to predict trends and diversify their business interests, Mrs Thomas called on all women to take advantage of the promise of the President elect to diversify the economy from oil to agriculture and mining ,urging them to quickly invest in those areas so as to be able to get government funding to enhance their agriculture and mining business for greater productivity and improved profit so as to be better empowered. 

She admonished women who have the desire to venture into partisan politics not be be isolated from the people especially at the grassroots but rather be familiar with local dynamics of their environment and be integrated with the people by joining groups and community based organisation that will give impetus to their political aspirations.

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