Enhancing participation of women in leadership



IT is incontrovertible and indeed a salient fact that, the extent of women participation in leadership today in our various societies is not only being selfishly regulated but also unjustly controlled, especially by some constituted power that be (men). Quite pathetically, the fact that these gender sensitive elements (men) are pretty fortunate to be influential enough within the society, easily affords them the undue advantage of playing the role of a thin god which further enables them to pay the piper and therefore dictate the tune of events to satisfy their parochial aggrandisement. Hence, they mischievously short-change women in the overall scheme of things within the society. This is rather unfortunate, and as such calls for all stakeholders’ deep concern. Therefore, all concerted efforts must be made especially in order to rectify this sheer abnormality endemic in the society.

Pointedly, the persistently unwarranted show of egoism, gender superiority and ceaseless arrant intimidation, coupled with abysmal institutionalised marginalisation incessantly orchestrated against the opposite sex (women) by this crop of oppressive gender entity called men, has consequently resulted in a huge dichotomy thereby creating a deep gap between the social status of men and women within the society. As a matter of fact, in the days of yore, precisely during the medieval era, especially before the advent of consolidated education and modern civilisation, women’s roles in the society were absolutely relegated to the background. Thus, more often than not, their activities were grossly restricted to the domestic home fronts where; they procreated, prepared food in the kitchen, carried out sundry domestic duties and ultimately sat at home to nurture the nuclear family from cradle to maturity. Evidently, this was the case in the Precambrian era or early time as women were basically perceived as weaker sex designed to be conquered and dominated by their men counterpart. Hence, without mincing word, women, it must be stated were unfairly treated to play no more than second fiddle in the society.

However, as time progresses especially during the Renaissance era and industrial revolution in Europe and America, this unjustifiable stereotype and ill-treatment against women irrationally derived from the myopic idiosyncrasy and sexist attitude of the society began to wane. Interestingly, this sudden turnaround from stigmatisation was largely due to the rapid civilisation attainment by the society resulting from an impressive improvement in its standard of education. Regrettably, it was a rude shock and absolutely preposterous for the women folk to suddenly discover that the very society they called their own was actually behind their wanton manipulation and untold predicament. Indeed, it was a strange society of men dominated world where the supposedly winner ‘men’ in the rat race struggled to greedily enjoy the largesse all alone. What an irony of life! Therefore, for the sake of; fairness, justice and equity, the women folk fervently prayed that the society should at least be magnanimous enough to grant them an appreciable amount of opportunity like their men counterpart to equally exercise their abilities and expertise in higher responsibilities in the society since they equally have the requisite wherewithal to excel in human endeavours. Fortunately enough for them, in no distant time, their agitation yielded the much anticipated result. Thus, the few educated ones among them were later allowed to take up strategic portfolios in politics and high profile jobs in industries. At this critical juncture, therefore, it is quite instructive to quickly remark that since their exploits in various leadership roles in the society, they have never being found wanting either in performance or in conduct.

Essentially, in recent developments especially in Africa, America, Asia and Europe, distinguished women of honour and ladies of extraordinary ‘panache’ have had the rare opportunities to achieve tremendous accomplishments as leaders of stellar performance in different official capacities they occupied in their various societies. Classical examples of such few women includes but not limited to the late Margret Thatcher of Britain, Angela Markel of Germany, Condoleezza Rice and Hillary Clinton of United States of America and Mrs Gandhi of India. In Africa, Helen Sirleaf Johnson of Liberia, apparently the first prestigious African continent female president till date, will forever have her name carved in stone not just in Liberia but indeed in Africa at large, especially for her constructive and transformative programmes of action and relentless efforts not only geared towards rehabilitating but also most importantly, towards rebuilding the civil war torn country back to its previously glorious days status in the comity of nations.

In Nigeria, the late Kudirat Abiola, will similarly be remembered in the country’s political history for a long time to come, for her bold advocacy and as champion of emancipation struggle against the barbaric authoritarianism of the military junta for the enthronement of democracy, especially in the June 12 political imbroglio era. This led to her premature heroic death. Furthermore, the likes of the late Professor Dora Akunyili, Oby Ezekwesili and Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala are few among women of high credibility, esteemed virtue and ‘Ne plus ultra’ who have demonstrated exemplary application to public good and made monumental achievements as highly respected female leaders in their respective capacities of human endeavours.

To this end, it must be remarkably commended that, the United Nations (UN), a renowned world humanitarian international organisation, recognises the need for women to play strategic roles in positions of higher authorities in the society. It is, however, regrettable that, as critical as women’s roles are their participation in leadership in various societies is still grossly inadequate especially when juxtaposed with those of their male counterpart. Against this unpalatable backdrop, therefore, in order to prevent this mistake of history from repeating itself, the foremost international humanitarian organisation, the UN, therefore recommends that about 25 per cent of a country’s political cabinet should henceforth be reserved for women. By extension, the Beijing protocol of 2004 did not only lend credence to this strategic UN’s summit resolutions but further reinforced their import. The Beijing protocol was particularly saddened that the fundamental rights of women were pathetically trampled upon by the very society they nurture and nurse from cradle to excellence.

The slogan ‘train a girl child, train the society’ is aptly underpinned to substantiate the argument that women constitute the key component of the nuclear family in the society whose roles are essentially cardinal to its healthy growth and virile development. It therefore naturally presupposes that, a well trained girl child will automatically grow up to stimulate an egalitarian society where an evolutionary transformation will inevitably result in an enviable society, an ‘Eldorado.’ In the light of this dysfunctional background therefore, the Beijing protocol summarily concluded that women’s strengths and competencies to take up dauntingly challenging career both in industries and politics should never again be constrained by any frivolous venture or domestic duties in the home fronts. In point of fact, to underscore the basic principle of fairness, equity and justice in the society, at least about 30 per cent was proposed by the summit to be set aside as political appointments for women in the political landscape of any country.

By this token, to enhance the participation of women in leadership in our various societies is not only to find a mean to balance the lopsidedness inherent within the society It is strategically pertinent especially at this auspicious moment of our nascent democracy, to correct this dysfunctional formula or mechanism of allotting leadership duties in the society because it has obviously out lived it essence. By and large, it is highly critical therefore, that the participation of women in both the industries and politics is encouraged at least by ensuring that women are duly given ample opportunities like their men counterpart to actively participate in positions of higher responsibilities such that the Beijing protocol and the UN’s summit resolutions are not only seen to be totally complied with but also are implemented to the latter.

Thus, as President Muhammadu Buhari is set to announce his ministers any moment from now, one cannot but wish that he will give due preference to women in his administration such that the subsisting Beijing protocol and UN charter on women empowerment are genuinely and unreservedly complied. Ultimately, this is the only sure pathway to obtaining a well guaranteed social justice and functional dynamic equilibrium within a healthy society where justice, fairness, equity, peace and tranquillity will be the hallmarks of the day.

• Adebayo is a business development consultant based at No. 39, Adeniji Street, Alakuko, Lagos. Tel: 09092167687 and Email: tadebayo35@yahoo.com

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