WINEED FOUNDATION TASKS GRASSROOT WOMEN TO PARTICIPATE ACTIVELY IN POLITICS
Zainab Tanimu —Kaduna
The need for women participation in politics particularly those at the grass root has been the focus of Women in Need Foundation (WINEED) as it has continuously geared its attention towards making them effectively active in politics.
In a bid to achieving this goal, a workshop was organized to educate them on the nitty –gritty involved in having a successful election.
The Executive Director of the Foundation Barrister Abiola Kamardeen worried over the low turn -out of women vying for elective positions at elections in Kaduna state said it would soon be a thing of the past as many are beginning to realize the importance of actively involving themselves in politics.
“What we are doing is to mobilize the women especially at the grass root for effective political participation in elections. We want to educate women on electoral process and make them participate fully. This is beginning to yield positive results. Issues bordering on women are brought to fore. Like that of political parties’ conduct of primaries which does not allow for actual representation of women candidates. This attributes to why qualified women with political ambition shy away from politics as such only few women are manning political offices. Through these workshops and lectures they are able to say their minds. These are women that have capacities. We are trying to build on it. Some of them are already into political system. Those who are not, we are trying to mobilize them to do so.
The system is not thoroughly motivating them so we decided that we should go about sensitizing them to do so. We were in the LGs earlier on where we sourced for these women. We have moved from Kaduna North local government area ( LGA) to Kaduna south LG. Presently we are into educating women from Chukun, Makarfi and Sabo LGA. The three LGAs are here converged because we realized that women are not politically motivated within themselves. We have called on resource persons that are going to tell them how to choose political party, organize campaign strategies and how to raise fund. Also, they would be taught how to communicate politically or engage the media. Like knowing what to say, time management including one’s appearance.
In fact there is nothing stopping a woman from seeking leadership position and taking part in decision making even in our community. The men are beginning to understand that. When we deliberated with the community stakeholders, the village heads, religious leaders, youth and women leaders on the issue, we were given a go-head with our programme. This is why they have released the women to come for this workshop. We are currently supported by National Endowment Forum Democracy. It is a US based organization”.
Seeking her view on the issues of restructuring and why women are not talking, she has this to say.
These are political issues we are talking about. Those who are already in the fore front are contributing and we are getting these women from the grass root to begin to appreciate the need to contribute whenever there are issues be it state or national and they are becoming groomed to do that.
The issue of restructuring, we should not dis integrate. We should just try and see those things that are not properly shaped and reshape them. We should look at the economy situation that is bringing us down. Look at what is causing it and try to put things in proper perspective. That is the restructuring on my mind that l think everybody should look at. Not the one that some other persons are calling for. We should restructure to the effect that is going to make us move forward and not backward.
Presenting her paper titled, Campaign Strategies and Selection of Political Parties, Hon. Maria Samuel Dogo, a seasoned politician, a one- time Kaduna House of Assembly member, a two term Commissioner Women Affairs took the participants through the rudiments of politics and how to survive the gimmicks with election now by the corner.
Women she said need to know their rights and also know that they can vote and be voted for. “We should not just be the ones voting the men. We are not competing with them but the fact still remains that we need to come out to aspire for one position or the other. The way we have shown men love by voting them into powers, men should also show us true love by voting for women. Women constitute about 70% of men’s vote. So, why can’t we come out to vote for ourselves? Once we do that, l want to believe that the next dispensation, we would have a lot of women in position.”
Those were her punching words to energize the women and wake them out of their slumber.
Taking them through the nitty-gritty of election, a candidate she stressed must be able to choose the right party. Get to know the executive members of the party, know the woman leader as well as have a robust relationship with her as she could be of great help in charting her course. Also is the need to build cordial relationship with community leaders and relevant stakeholders including members of the community.
Hon. Dogo maintained that once the right strategies are put in place and a well-focused objective targeted. The sky she said would be their limit. She however cautioned that the men are not willing to let go and therefore must work hard to make their impacts felt using her personal experience of 2003, 2007 House of Assembly election as an example.
“I see the readiness in on our women but the full dancing drum is always there by the men. We women have limitations of resources. Campaign is not possible if you do not have resources. With the awareness of voters now, not as much resources is needed as before whereby you think you can buy votes from people. People have already passed beyond that level. People are looking out for those who are ready to serve them with good intentions not just to show them that they have gone there and made money and can buy as much vote as they can. With the awareness presently given to our women, they can be voted for even without resources now.
I must say it is saddening that we do not have women in the Kaduna state House of Assembly. It gives me worries.
You see, during my term, 2003, 2007 when l contested for Kaduna State House of Assembly, l was the only female among the 33members, l being the 34th person. It is saddening. There is the need for the parties to consider the issue of women. It is too selfish and self-centered when you can have about 33 men in a government or in an assembly and not even 2 or 3 women there. It is not acceptable by women.
I want to draw the attention of past leadership though l come from the PDP. We have been doing much for the women and we would continue to. During the PDP leadership, you would notice that a lot of women were considered not only on elective positions but also on political positions. Now that our party has come on ground, meaning that all the crisis that we had in PDP are by-gone now, l fully believe that there is no party that can compete in terms of dealing with women than PDP when we are back on board.
Commending WINNEED Foundation’s in its selfless efforts towards mobilizing women for political participation, she said.
“I really want to appreciate Women in Need and l give kudos to them for such selfless service to women. It is not an easy task and l wish that other organizations can do same.
I honestly see this as a sign of good tidings for the coming election. If our women are able to put all they have learnt today to practice, it would really help them and l believe one day they would come out to jubilate that they have really aspired and gotten what they want.”
The media resource person Hajiya Zainab Tanimu presenting a paper titled “Media Communication and Campaign Strategies for Success at Elections” has described politics and media as inseparable. She said the media is what the politician needs to bring him or her to limelight.
The effective use of media tools therefore would guarantee to what extent disseminated messages would reach one’s targets. While encouraging them to make effective use of such available tools like the television, radio, newspapers, it would be beneficial also she said to engage themselves in the use of social media through which information can be disseminated to thousands of their targeted audience within the shortest period of time. Reaching your targeted voters within the confine of your room using the internet, blogs, face book and phones to send either WhatsApp or SMS messages are innovations worthy of use. She emphasized. Persuasive messages through interviews, advertising, posters and advocacy could enhance the chances of winning. Aside selling oneself by attending seminars, town hall meetings, workshops and engaging in some social activities within one’s community, NGOs like Women and Youth organizations including stakeholders like community leaders, seasoned politicians can be used to strategized in an election which means effective campaign strategies must be put in place.
Zainab however advised that politicians avoid making fake promises as such is capable of pulling them down especially in this era of social media.