From Mfon Ekefre, Uyo
A former Commissioner for Women Affairs and Education Ministries in Akwa Ibom State, Mrs. Eunice Thomas, has called on women across the country to get involved more in the political affairs of the country.
Mrs. Thomas made the call while addressing a cross section of Christian women under the aegis of “The Princess Forum”.
She said: “The quest to empower the Nigerian Women will not achieve its desired goals and objectives until Nigerian women themselves rise up and become actively and directly involved in the politics of governance in the country. It is only by so doing that you can become key players in the formulation and implementation of government policies and programmes that will uplift and empower the women.”
Thomas, who was a guest speaker at the event, re-emphasized that “it is only by women becoming actively involved in decision making, rather than being only onlookers in the process of policy initiation formulation and implementation, will the hope empowering women become a reality.”
The ex-commissioner who spoke on the theme, “Women Empowerment – The Real Deal” regretted the poor participation of Akwa Ibom women in the just concluded general elections, especially into the state legislature.
She lamented that the poor representation of women in the state legislature will greatly hamper the prospects of repositioning women for greater competitiveness: “If you have 26 states constituencies and you have just one woman, how does she represent us? How does she fight? It is difficult to fight 20 men when you are not the Speaker or even if you were. How then do you empower the women who has 35 per cent in her weakness against the men who have 65 per cent in their strength? she asked.
She noted that the ‘ABC’ of a woman assessing herself are appearance, behaviour and communication, describing these three qualities as the benchmark upon which empowerment can be derived from.
Her words: “A woman must first ask herself how she appears, behave and communicate and should maintain her feminism, present herself well, control your temper and take things easy but very firm.”
Mrs Thomas noted with delight that “the average woman is spiritually empowered” but regretted that “what is remaining now is financial and political empowerment of women.”
She called for legislation that would grant “women easy access to funds, reduce cumbersome and obnoxious law and practice against widows, domestication of international treaties and conventions in a manner that guarantee women safety protection and empowerment as well as equity in political participation in government.”
She called on legislators’ wives to use their vantage positions to help influence their spouse to enact laws that will advance the cause of women in the country.
The ex-commissioner also advocated constructive lobbying and moral persuasion as a means to achieve desired result.
Thomas called on women to be informed and be up to date with global trends in order to be able to predict trends and diversify their business interests.
She also called on women to take advantage of the promise of the federal government to diversify the economy from oil to agriculture and mining for greater productivity and improved profit so as to be better empowered.
Mrs. Thomas admonished women who wish to venture unto partisan politics not to be isolated from the people, especially at the grassroots, but rather be familiar with local dynamics of their environment.
“You should also be integrated with the people and also join groups and community-base organisations that will give impetus to your political organisation,” she said.