35% Affirmative Action: Amplifying Success Stories of Nigerian Women Doing Exploits Home and Abroad

35% Affirmative Action: Amplifying Success Stories of Nigerian Women Doing Exploits Home and Abroad

  • Many election observers and electoral stakeholders have critiqued the last election cycle as unfair to female candidates.
  • Cynthia Mbamalu, the Programme Manager of Yiaga Africa, described the last election as a bad outing for women.
  • Similarly, Mrs Josie Mudasiru, a gender rights activist, noted the need for strict adherence to the national gender policy.

Legit.ng journalist Segun Adeyemi has over 9 years of experience covering political events, civil societies, courts, and metro

FCT, Abuja - In recent years, Nigerian women have been making remarkable strides within the confines of their homeland and on the international stage.

Their stories tell of resilience, determination, and unyielding commitment to excellence.

The NWTF has been a major forerunner for the 35% affirmative action for women
A team of lawyers helped the NWTF and eight other civil society groups to secure victory at the Federal High Court against the government in 2022. Photo Credit: NWTF
Source: Facebook

From the realms of business to science, arts, and technology, Nigerian women are leaving an indelible mark, shattering glass ceilings, and inspiring generations to come.

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These success stories could also be attributed to the movement by civil society organisations to enforce the National Gender Policy by allotting 35 per cent of appointments in the public sector to women.

At the height of this movement, civil society organisations like the Nigeria Women Trust Fund (NWTF) and eight others helped secure a ground-breaking verdict at the Federal High Court on April 6, 2022.

At the ruling, the judge said:

“Dismantling barriers to women’s participation in public spheres has been achieved through progressive interpretation of municipal laws and international obligations and treaties.
“Formulating Policies based on sex, stereotyping, and feudal and patriarchal traditions will no longer be tolerated due to the supremacy of constitutional values.”

However, the 2023 polls were not a reflection of this verdict, as some gender rights activists believe the last general elections and off-cycle polls were not a good outing for women.

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Mrs Josie Mudasiru, a gender rights activist and founder of JAM Intervention For Vulnerable Children And Climate Change Initiative ( Jam -Initiative), described the last election as unfair for women.

She stated that there was a need to adjust to the principles of equity and fairness to help integrate Nigerian society to become more democracy friendly.

In a chat with Legit.ng, she said:

"This is totally unfair in a country where we say that Women are more than Men. For equity and fairness, we should adhere to the National Gender Policy, which stipulates that women should fill 35 per cent of appointed positions."

Similarly, Ms Cynthia Mbamalu, the Programme Manager of Yiaga Africa and gender activist, said the last election cycle was not a “great year” for Nigerian women in politics.

Ms. Mbamalu told Legit.ng that the statistics of women in governance have drastically dropped based on the outcomes of the last elections.

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However, she did not rule out some of the giant strides of women who came out tops during the election.

She said:

"Maybe you will celebrate Senator (Mrs) Ireti Kingibe in Abuja because she unseated Senator (Mr) Phillip Aduda, who was a long-serving senator and was known for his influence in the FCT.
"And we can say it was a win to have a woman take over that seat in this election. And then, the young lady in Kwara because she is one of the youngest lawmakers to win her election for State Assembly."

Despite the national assembly's lapse in implementing the 35 per cent affirmative action for women within a year following the court's decision, Nigerian women recorded notable achievements and endeavours on local and international fronts in 2023.

Nigerian women making waves home and abroad

Here are seven Nigerian women who are inspiring many others with their achievements on the local and global scenes:

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1. Senator (Mrs) Natasha Akpoti-Uduaghan

Senator Natasha is arguably the biggest success story for women in the last general election after entering into a fierce election for the Kogi Central Senatorial seat under the flagship of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

At the general election, INEC declared Abubakar Ohere to be the APC winner of the Kogi Central Senatorial seat.

This decision was overturned when the appellate court in Abuja on Tuesday, October 31, nullified the APC candidate's victory and affirmed Nastasha's election winner.

Her giant stride earned her the "2023 Politician of the Year Award" at the Leadership Excellence Awards for her resilience and tenacity.

2. Senator (Mrs) Ireti Heebah Kingibe

Senator Ireti of the Labour Party (LP) broke the jinx of a male-dominated political scene in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) by unseating a three-term Senator Phillip Aduda of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the 2023 general elections.

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At the 2023 poll, INEC returning officer Sanni Saka said Ireti scored 202,175 votes to emerge the winner, adding that Philip Aduda of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) came second with 100,544 votes.

Angulu Dobi of the All Progressives Congress (APC) placed third with 78,905 votes.

The 69-year-old politician is the younger sister of Ajoke Muhammed, the wife of former Nigerian head of state Murtala Muhammed.

3. Hon (Ms.) Rukayat Motunrayo Shittu

At 26, Rukayat Motunrayo Shittu, a fresh graduate from the Nationa Open University (NOUN), took a bold step to contest for the Owode/Onire constituency, Asa Local Government Area in the Kwara State House of Assembly.

In a highly patriarchal environment, Ms Shittu entered the race to become a lawmaker at the Kwara state parliament under the All Progressives Congress (APC) flagship.

INEC declared Ms Shittu the winner in a keenly contested poll after polling 7,521 votes to defeat Abdullah Magaji of the PDP, who polled 6,957.

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She became the youngest parliamentarian in the state upon her swearing-in on Monday, May 29.

4. Mrs Mufuliat Fijabi

It would be unfair not to mention Mrs Mufuliat Fijabi in the same breath as some of these women who have changed the Nigerian political landscape in 2023.

The former CEO of the Nigerian Women Trust Fund (NWTF) played a crucial role in the fight for the 35 per cent affirmative action for women.

As a gender advocate, her influence and expertise in the development sector helped the NWTF and eight other civil society organisations to secure a crucial verdict at the federal high court.

5. Ms. Tariye Gbadegesin

Mrs Tariye Gbadegesin, a seasoned investment professional with over two decades of expertise in finance, principal investments, and infrastructure, has successfully raised over US$3 billion for various infrastructure projects in Africa.

Notably, she has achieved the historic milestone of being the first African to assume the Climate Investment Funds (CIF) CEO role.

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Her remarkable accomplishment has garnered recognition at the highest level, with Bola Ahmed Tinubu expressing presidential praise for her appointment and characterizing it as a significant victory for Nigeria.

President Tinubu said:

"I am immensely proud to congratulate Tariye Gbadegesin on her landmark appointment as CEO of the Climate Investment Funds. "Tariye's appointment is not just a personal achievement but also a proud moment for Nigeria.
"Her wealth of experience in climate finance and sustainable infrastructure places her at the forefront of the global fight against climate change."

Tariye Gbadegesin holds a bachelor's degree in Economics from Amherst College and an MBA from the prestigious Harvard Business School.

6. Mrs Zainab Ahmad

Similarly, the former Minister of Finance, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, secured an Alternate Executive Director position at the World Bank.

The World Bank had reportedly sought nominations for three economists for the Alternate Executive Director role several months before President Muhammadu Buhari's administration concluded.

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The Alternate Executive Director position is typically filled by former Finance Ministers (Governors of the World Bank) or Permanent Secretaries in the Federal Ministries of Finance (Alternative Governor of the World Bank).

In her new role, Mrs Ahmed is expected to work alongside Ayanda Dlondlo, a former South African Minister who serves as the Executive Director.

7. Mrs Toyin Saraki

In September 2023, the Sustainable Markets Initiative appointed Toyin Saraki, the wife of the former Senate President and founder/President of the Wellbeing Foundation Africa (WBFA), as one of seven panellists responsible for evaluating and selecting the winners of the 2023 Terra Carta Seal Award.

The announcement highlighted that the panel comprises diverse global experts from environmental, business, political, and philanthropic backgrounds.

The Terra Carta Seal, launched in 2021 at COP26 by King Charles III before his ascent to the throne, aims to acknowledge and commend international companies that actively contribute to building a positive future for both climate and nature.

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Joining Saraki on the panel are Ankit Todi, Ellen Jackowski, Hubert Danso, Perry Bellegarde, Pok Wei-Heng, and Valérie Plante.

Saraki's extensive experience includes serving as a judge for the MIT Solve competition at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Cannes Lions Film Festival.

Additionally, she recently played a role as a Grand Global Jury Member for the Fight for Access Accelerator Nigeria, led by Reckitt and Yunus Social Business (YSB).

Nigerian women still chasing 35% affirmative action

Legit.ng had earlier reported that the off-cycle polls in Bayelsa, Kogi and Imo states missed an opportunity to produce women with leadership roles.

This pattern echoes the discouraging trends observed in the previous general election and the composition of President Bola Tinubu's cabinet.

The Nigeria Women Trust Fund (NWTF) is urging the government to actively prioritise and embrace the inclusion of women in key decision-making positions.

Source: Legit.ng

Segun Adeyemi avatar

Segun Adeyemi (Current Affairs and Politics Editor) Segun Adeyemi is a journalist with over 9 years of experience as an active field reporter, editor, and editorial manager. He has had stints with Daily Trust newspaper, Daily Nigerian, and News Digest. He currently works as an editor for Legit.ng's current affairs and politics desk. He holds a degree in Mass Communication (Adekunle Ajasin University). He is a certified digital reporter by Reuters, AFP and the co-convener of the annual campus journalism awards. Email: segun.adeyemi@corp.legit.ng.

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