Former Minister of Women Affairs and Social Development, Mrs Pauline Tallen, has called on President Bola Tinubu to fulfill the 35 per cent affirmative action promised women during his presidential campaign.
She made the appeal on Friday in Abuja at an award night organised by Women of Worth, an oganisation set up to cebrate outstandimg women.
Tallen, who is also former deputy governor of Plateau State, said from the president’s past records, she was optimistic that Nigerian women would be given their pride of place.
She said women were an integral part of any economy and should be allowed to contribute their quota to nation building.
“I have the belief that the president will do more for Nigerian women than was experienced in the past.
“It is important to empower, educate and give Nigerian women the opportunity to explore their potentials for the
betterment of the nation.
“Rwanda for instance, where women are over 60 per cent in government, has seen a lot of progress.
“So, I can boldly say the miles Rwanda has achieved is because of the contribution of women,” she said.
Tallen said with Nigerian women being about 50 per cent or more in terms of population, there was nothing wrong if they were given even beyond 35 per cent.
She called on Nigerians to make it a point of duty to “lift the hands of a downtrodden woman and put smiles on the faces of the hungry and vulnerable”.
Mrs Beatrice Eyong, United Nations Women Representative to Nigeria, said she had no doubt that the president would fulfil his campaign promise to women.
“From some of the things I have read about our president, his past work in Lagos and what he has been saying, he has made it clear that women will be an integral part of his government.
“What I will simply say is that Nigeria does not lack competent, experienced and qualified women.
“There are qualified Nigerian women in every sector of the economy,” she said.
Eyong, who also represents Economic Community of West African State (ECOWAS) at the UN, said the present administration should “align with judicial texts and conventions that Nigeria had ratified.
“The Maputo Protocol which was ratified by all heads of state for instance, recommends 50/50 ratio and Nigeria cannot say it does not have women to make up 50 per cent.”
On roles of Nigerian women in the economy, Eyong said they had always contributed to national development.
She said, while Nigerian women had so much potentials, it was unfortunate that their efforts were not well recognised.
According to her, Nigerian women have demonstrated at the global stage that they are competent and have expertise in all fields.
“The Head, World Trade Organisation (WTO) for instance is a Nigerian Woman and number two in the United Nations is also a Nigerian woman and I can count on.
“Unfortunately, Nigerian women are not given much opportunity to showcase their potentials within their own country,” she said.
The women representative said constraints in the form of discriminatory laws and harmful practices that had prevented women from utilising their potentials should be removed.
On her part, Mrs Comfort Adesoye, the President, Women of Worth Awards, said it would not be out of place to give women more than 35 per cent appointive positions.
She said women had the wherewithal in terms of educational qualification and strength of character to occupy any position of authority.
“Women in every region of the economy are outstanding.
“They only need to be at the right place and to demonstrate the ability and this is because the nature of women is to multiply.
“Whatever a woman is given she gives back in multiple folds, leaving things better than she met them,” she said.
On the award night, Adesoye said it was organised to celebrate outstanding women locally and internationally.
She said the objective was to identify and “support women in their quiet little corner, empowering other women.
“It is to award women, who are bringing other women to limelight through empowerment programmes and sponsorships.”
Dr Betty Olutunde, one of the pillars of the Women of Worth, said it was time for Nigerian men to trust women enough to allow them occupy strategic positions in government.
She said women were “watching to see what the new government will do with regard to appointing women into appointive positions”.
On role of women, Olutunde said “when you support a woman you reduce poverty and the whole society will be better for it”.
Mrs Ebere Ifendu, the Chairperson, Women in Politics Forum, said Nigeria must learn to respect laws and international conventions that it was signatory to.
She said: “Nigerian women are doing exceptionally globally, but sadly we have not been given enough opportunity to showcase the stuff we are made of.
“The National Gender Policy talks about affirmative action and we are hoping that this administration will realise our worth.
“We are also hoping the role women played during the elections will be rewarded,” she said.
Highpoint of the event was presentation of excellence award to Tallen and other outstanding women.