As Nigerians head to the polls to elect their next president and state governors, progress toward greater representation of women in public leadership remains slow. The EJS Center’s Data Hub shows that the proportion of women representatives in both legislative chambers does not exceed 7%. Women’s political participation in elective and appointive positions also remains around 6.7% – far below the global average of 22.5%.
Examining the role of Nigerian women public leaders, former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Founder and President of the African Center for Economic Transformation (ACET) Dr. K.Y. Amoako argued for increased representation of women in positions of power and decision-making in a recent op-ed published in Quartz.
Nigerian women, Madam Sirleaf and Dr. Amoako said, are leaders in their own right. Many of them have risen to the highest levels of public leadership on the world stage, including those who are part of the Amujae Initiative:
“Amujae Leaders such as Dr. Adaeze Oreh, Hadiza Bala Usman, Tejumola Abisoye, and Ifeyinwa Maureen Okafor are a few of the fine examples of Nigerian women creating new leadership legacies that inspire women and girls in Nigeria, Africa, and beyond.”
However, many deep-rooted obstacles stifle their leadership potential in Nigeria, including social, educational and cultural barriers. Breaking down these obstacles and increasing women’s representation is a prerequisite for progress and prosperity in the country; the authors stressed:
“In Nigeria, women and girls account for half of the population, and therefore represent half of its potential as an African nation. For Nigeria to prosper and progress, it must increase the representation of women in decision-making positions.”
Madam Sirleaf and Dr. Amoako were adamant that inclusive legislation must be put in place to enshrine women’s right to political representation in Nigeria. They also called for creating a social, economic, and political environment that encourages Nigerian women to put themselves forward for political office.
Read the full op-ed in Quartz here.