The National Progressive Women's Conference was held at the International Conference Centre, Abuja, between the 18th and 19th of January, 2022. It was indeed an impressive spectacle to behold, a carnival of sorts, where 'sisters in politics' did not lose the essence of their gathering in one venue to discuss, analyse and proffer viable solutions to the numerous problems bedeviling women. The theme of the conference was: One voice, women uniting for progress. Why has the number of women in elective positions been on the downward spiral since 1999? There were many high profile delegates from the geo-political zones of Nigeria. Some of the dignitaries present are:
*Prof. Yemi Osinbajo - VP Nigeria
*Dr. Jewel Taylor - VP Liberia/Keynote Speaker
*Dr. (Mrs) Aisha Muhammadu-Buhari - First Lady, Nigeria
*Hon Stella Okotete - Convener
*Dr. Tijani Aliyu - Minister of State, FCT
*Dame Pauline Tallen - Minister for Women Affairs
*Hon. Umar Farouk - Minister of Humanitarian Affairs
*Barr. Sharon Ikeazor - Minister of State for the Environment
*Mrs. Titilayo Laoye-Tomori - Fmr. Dep. Governor, Osun State
*Sen. Florence Ita-Giwa
*Dr. Hajo Sani - Nigeria's Ambassador to UNESCO
*Senator Binta Masi Garba
*Mrs.Nchita Asabe - DG National Centre for Women Development (NCWD)
*Senator Grace Bent
*Erelu Bisi Adeleye-Fayemi - First Lady, Ekiti State
*Mrs. Chioma Uzodinma - First Lady,
*Dr. Zainab Bagudu - First Lady,
*Dr. (Mrs) Ayade - First Lady, Cross River State
*Hon. Nkeiruka Onyejeocha - Deputy Chief Whip, House of Reps
*Hon. Olubunmi Ette - Fmr. Speaker House of Reps/1st & only female Speaker to date
*Dr. Justina Mutalele - Chair, JM Foundation
The objectives are:
*Embed gender mainstreaming in Party processes at the national, zonal and state levels.
*Amplify collective concerns for strategic positioning of women for political office.
*Converge Progressive Women into a unified voice for women's security & political growth.
*Educate, enlighten & empower (3 Es) Nigerian women for maximum utilisation of skills acquisition through a digital learning platform (DLP)
*Launch Progressive Women's Academy - a foremost digital learning platform.
*Attract a culturally diverse group of progressive women who will connect, educate, inspire and empower one another via mentoring and personal growth for collective development.
The high point of the conference was the unveiling of the 'Progressive Women's Academy' on a 'Free Learning Platform for Nigerian & African Women' by the wife of the President, Dr. Aisha Buhari. The aim is to train at least 20 million women in two years!
The themes are:
*Women political leaders in Nigeria: Leveraging networks to transform the political space.
*It's time to represent: Getting women elected into office
*Fiscal policies & interventions for women's economic empowerment
*One voice: Overcoming the challenges
*Embracing diversity & empowering the next female generation
*Defining women in the political space in a new decade
*The role of women in security, governance & development
*The African woman, a beacon of hope
*Giving voice to women's visibility
*Overcoming adversity, obstacles & barriers
The Charter of demands from the conference was eloquently elucidated in the communique:
*There should be institutional reforms which take cognisance of the concerns of women.
*Fora for the interaction of women for progress are necessary.
*Mentorship for the next generation of female politicians needed.
*The 'Progressive Women's Trust Fund (PWTF)'should be set up to address the critical issue of feminisation of poverty and non-availability of campaign funds for women in politics.
*Consitution review committee should be set up. Affirmative action for women should be top on the agenda.
*A 'Lobby Group of Women' should be set up.
*There should be inclusivity for women at all levels.
*There should be at least 35% of all posts for women.
*There should be an increase in the number of women in the Board of Trustees (BOT) of the Party.
*There should be a comprehensive review of the APC Constitution.
Wow! What an ambitious basket of demands. From what I witnessed at the conference, these women are up to the task. Keep pushing ahead, ladies...