Former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo is known for empowering women. During his tenure as president, Obasanjo elevated so many Nigerian women into powerful position. The former president has now given his reason for his love for women Former Nigerian president, Olusegun Obasanjo has declared that he is a firm believer in women.
The Women’s Power Lunch organised by the Murtala Muhammed Foundation (MMF), with the theme “Women in Solidarity: A New Paradigm for Inclusion”. Mrs Aisha Muhammed-Oyebode, CEO of MMF at the event Obasanjo who is also the chairman of the foundation, called on political parties to mandatory include a quota for women to encourage their participation. “While in the PDP and during my time as President, we had a structure where women could get forms and support for free, we did this to encourage active participation by women”. “You must be well equipped to succeed in politics, if you are not strong physically, your chances are reduced, but you must also believe in God,” he told participants at the event.
The keynote speaker at the conference was Dr Joyce Banda, former President of Malawi. Dr Banda, Chief Obasanjo and Mrs Oyebode-Muhammed Attendants included women leaders and influencers from all walks of life including government, private sector, civil society, academia/students, media and the arts.
In her keynote address Dr Banda called on the implementation of affirmative action, stating there was a need to create deliberate policies to promote participation by women in government and as well improve education participation by the girl child. She further called for more responsive and highly co-ordinated action between law and implementation on gender rights and enforcement of these rights across the African continent as well as formation of more legal instruments for women’s rights.
She also called for an active interest in governance by women, decrying the challenges women faced as politicians which includes nocturnal meetings and criticisms “If you don’t want to go through what men pass through, then you don’t want to be in politics,” she said. Dr Banda gave the example of a time when she was manhandled by United States Secret Service agent who mistook her for a market woman during the visit of President Bill Clinton to Malawi.
Mrs Aisha Muhammed-Oyebode in her address called on women to use their collective strength to generate force against the barriers that still hold them back. Mrs Oyebode further stressed the need for the society to embrace women leadership as a solution to bridging the gender gap in Africa “So long as there is a continued reluctance to embrace the idea of female authority figures of women in power and leadership, and the gender gap remains as is, sustainable development may continue to elude us on this continent.” She said. The first edition of the Women’s Power Lunch featured Her Excellency, Mrs. Graça Machel Mandela DBE, the former first lady of South Africa and Mozambique as keynote speaker.