Nigerian women are underrepresented as legislators. Globally, the 30 per cent benchmark often identified as the necessary level of representation to achieve a “critical mass” is far from being realized.

In the last 20 years in Sub-Sahara Africa, the number of women in parliament has risen from 11 to 23.6 per cent. In Arab States, it has increased from 13 to 17.5 per cent. In Nigeria in 2017, six per cent of women were elected to office – 22 in the House of Representatives and seven in the Senate. Rwanda with 60 per cent has the highest female legislative representatives in the world.

The role of women in national, local, and community leadership cannot be stressed enough. Still some Nigerians may ask why it matters for our women to become political leaders, elected policy makers, or civil society activists. Why do Nigeria need more women involved in all aspects of the political process? Political participation of our women will lead to tangible gains for democracy. It makes for greater responsiveness to citizen needs. It will increase cooperation across party and ethnic lines. It will give the country a more sustainable future.

Participation of our women in politics will help advance gender equality. It will affect the range of policy issues being considered as well as the type of solutions that we propose. It has been proven that when more women are elected to office, there's a corresponding increase in policy making that emphasizes quality of life that reflects the priorities of families, women, and ethnic minorities.

The National Democratic Institute in Washington DC, USA, reports that more than men, women tend to (a) work across party lines, (b) highly responsive to constituent concerns, (c) help secure lasting peace, (d) encourage citizen confidence in democracy through their participation, and (e) prioritize health, education,and other key development indicators.The African Action Congress (AAC) believes in gender equality and equal representation of women in all political endeavors which is why more women in AAC more than any other party are contesting as councillors, state, and federal legislators. One of the AAC women candidates is Kofoworola Beckley who is contesting for the Ogun State House of Assembly for Ifo II Constituency.

Born 41 years ago in Mushin, Lagos, she was educated at Abeokuta Grammar School and The Polytechnic, Ibadan where she earned the National Diploma in Financial Studies. Beckley is an accomplished professional. As a journalist, she served as Ondo State correspondent for Champion Newspapers. In 2012, she was assigned to the Federal High Court Ikoyi, Lagos, as the judiciary correspondent. Beckley as a broadcaster worked with Ondo State RadioVision Corporation.

She also worked at Turner Technologies Inc., and Lagos  Airport Hotel. She's the founder and CEO of The Charger's House School, a private institution dedicated to childcare and head start education and literacy development children. With her cool ocean face and innocent smiles, she speaks with intent, purpose, and eloquence. “I'm the first child of three children. I became an orphan at 25. I have been independent most of my life. I'm a strong woman and had to pull relentlessly through many obstacles and challenges of life. I'm running for Ogun State House of Assembly. Journalism has stirred in me the aspiration to go into politics and contribute to societal development.

I have lived in my constituency since 1987, learning about their strength, problems, and challenges. I believe a female driving force in politics is necessary since we are usually more involved in nation-building. My constituency Ifo II comprises six wards: Agbado, Isheri/Ojodu, Ajuwon/Akute, Oke Aro/Ibaragun/Robiyan, Ososun, and Sunren."I'm running to simplify governance thereby bridging the gap between the electorates and their representatives. I believe it is desirable and pertinent to facilitate a weekly meeting with my constituents. I plan to influence bills that will impact positively on the well-being of my constituents through my agenda TASPAP – Training and Supporting Poverty Alleviation Programs – especially for traders, farmers, artisans, and small scale entrepreneurs.”

“I will fight for equal access and free health care delivery for all, equal access to free qualitative education, empowerment programs and training for artisans and other skilled vocations. My target is also on poverty reduction through community driven development initiatives and job creation. Infrastructure like roads, treated water, and public transportation, electricity are of utmost priority.”“Funding for my campaign has been my biggest problem. However, I have been to all the six wards in my constituency to feel the pulse of my people, gathering baseline information and needs assessment. I believe God has prepared me for this assignment from childhood. I'm prepared to serve my people with everything in me.

So far, in my activity and involvement with TIB/AAC, I make bold to say that the best place to learn how to predict the behavioral pattern of people is the political arena. I'm learning fast the game of politics. This country does not belong to a particular class of people. It belongs to all. I'm determined to take my constituency back from poverty, unemployment, and other socioeconomic problems.”Beckley is incredibly frustrated with the current state of affairs in Ifo II Constituency, and growing increasingly depressed about the future political prospects of her constituency. She believes she had no option but to throw herself into the political process.

She believes at a minimum, she'll be able to get a wider audience for her ideas and views. At maximum, she believes she would win and directly effect her desired change thus proving right Michelle Bachelet, President of Chile's statement that “When one woman is a leader, it changes her. When more women are leaders, it changes politics and policies.” Beckley is a leader in her own right. No doubt, she'll inspire more women to become leaders... Let's go there!

 

bjoluwasanmi@gmail.com

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