Women rose in unison at a forum in Abuja on Thursday to disagree with a member of the House of Representatives who said Nigerian women are not ready for leadership roles in politics and business.
The member representing Kaltungo /Shangom Federal Constituency of Gombe state, Simon Karu, said this during the panel session at the dialogue on inclusive growth and women participation organised by Policy Development Facility Phase II (PDF II) in Abuja.
Mr Karu said women are mostly interested in small-scale businesses and use the profit for material things.
“Give a woman N10, 000 capital to start a business, she makes a profit of N15,000 and the next thing she thinks of is to buy shoes,” he said.
The lawmaker said he once “nominated two women for leadership roles” to the governor of his state, but the women “declined” to take the positions.
He said only about 10 per cent of women who were empowered in his state were able to expand their businesses.
“We also empowered some women and only about 10 per cent were able to grow their businesses. The problem is mostly with grassroots women,” he said.
He rejected suggestions that his criticism was ” negative.”
He advised women to redefine their paths in society to change the views about them.
But women at the event were unanimous in rejecting the lawmaker’s view.
In 2016, a senator, Biodun Olujimi, had introduced a bill seeking for equal rights among Nigerians.
The bill, which stoked widespread emotions amongst women, was introduced to promote equal access of the genders to education.
It also aimed to strengthen the laws on violence against women, end abduction of girls, sustain and promote entrepreneurship opportunities, gender mainstreaming and gender equality, as well as female participation in governance.
A gender expert, Wunmi Asubiaro, called for the passage of the bill. She said certain laws in Nigeria have restricted women from accomplishing their goals.
“For example, in the southeast, a woman cannot purchase land unless she goes through a male relative, ” she said.
She said the bill if passed into law would cater to women and the society, and provide equal opportunity for all.
Ms Asubiaro said the barriers can be seen in institutions where women “take permission” before getting married, unlike the male folks.
The expert noted that women constitute about 50 per cent of the country’s population.
“Since women make up 50 per cent of the population, they should be given equal rights,” she said.