Grass Roots Politicians Pledges Support for Women Participation in Politics ……. as ASHH Foundation Organises FGD in Bauchi

By Bashir Hassan Abubakar

Politicians at grass roots level have pledged to support women participation in politics in order to give them a chance to compete favourably with men in the political arena.

This was one of the key takeaways during a focus group discussion (FGD) organised by a Bauchi based NGO, Attah Sisters Helping Hand Foundation (ASHH Foundation) in collaboration with Ford Foundation and the Nigerian Women’s Trust Fund (NWTF), held on Tuesday at Destination Hotel Conference Hall Bauchi.

A youth mobilizer of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) at the FGD Ibrahim Baja Wunti, while expressing his displeasure over the inadequate number of women in politics in the state, traced the root causes of the challenge to the negative perception of Northern people in relation to women participation in politics in Bauchi State and the entire Northern Nigeria.

Wunti said that, it is the same perception that has created a hostile environment for women to actively participate and vie for elective positions.

“Since the creation of Bauchi State close to about four decades, the state has never produced a female Deputy Governor, Senator or even a Member of the house of representatives. We as men, that are dominating such elective positions, needs to rally round some credible women and support them to get to such positions”.

“In my own little contribution towards changing the narrative regarding women participation in politics, I have directed that more women should be included in running the affairs of my mobilization forum in all the 20 Local Government Areas of Bauchi State”, said Wunti.

Male Participants in a Group Photograph

The FGD, which was facilitated by the program manager of ASHH Foundation, MaryAnn Emmanuel, featured questions and answers that bordered around: Why women don’t participation in politics, What is hindering their active participation in elective positions, What is percentages of women in political parties, What will the women do differently when elected into positions etc.

In one of the responses from one Mrs. Mary Zaka, a former woman leader from Birshin Fulani Ward of the All Progressive Congress (APC) in Bauchi LG, she that if by any chance she is elected into any elective positions, her major areas of focus among other things, will be targeted at awareness creation for more women participation in politics, empowerment of women and youth.

“For so long, we have been used and dumped by the men. We have the numbers to make the difference and yet we are not leveraging on that. But organising such interface (FGDs) with the men, i think it is one of the first steps towards changing the negative perception of women in politics”.

“Let me also use this opportunity to commend ASHH Foundation and their partners for organising such forums and further called on them to sustain and widen it to target political actors at the State and National level”, Mrs. Zaka said.

Mrs. Mary Zakka

Another participant that spoke to our correspondent, Aisha Abdullahi, PDP woman leader of Sabon Kaura community said, “the coming of ASHH Foundation and their partners in creating awareness regarding women participation in politics is gradually building up the confidence of so many of us to come out and compete with the men in seeking for political positions. It is a great development and i think the women are beginning to see their strength in determining who gets what through the ballots. We are going to carry the messages to our respective communities. For so long we have been relegated to the background and it is long overdue that women take their rightful positions in the political arena in Bauchi State and the Nation at large”.

Also speaking during the FGD, the Assistant Gender Desk officer of ASHH Foundation Celina Lyop Jakawa urged the women not to be deterred in pursuing their aspirations in the political system.

Jakawa sighted example with herself saying, “at the moment, i have made up my mind to contest for the State House of Assembly to represent Barkin Ladi in Plateau State in the 2023 election and i intend to follow my aspiration to the logical end. Anyone of you here can do the same thing”.

In a goodwill message, the Executive Director of ASHH Foundation Comfort Attah also urged the women to always form strong coalitions that can speak out with one voice, especially if one of their own is coming out to contest for any elective position.

Women Participants in a Group Photograph

Attah further implore the women to do away with any perceived notion that can stop them from being involved in politics, stressing that, “these perceived notions is what is mostly hindering you from achieving your goals”.

In a closing remark, the program manager of ASHH Foundation, MaryAnn Emmanuel said that the doors of the NGO are always open to support the women through technical advices.

Mrs. Emmanuel said that feedback from the FGD will be carefully studied to see where there are gaps, with a view to proffering solutions to address such gaps.

Our correspondent reports that the FGD attracted 40 participants in each of the two LGs of Ganjuwa and Bauchi . The participants comprised both men, women and community/religious leaders from each of the LGs .

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