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Women Empowerment: The Abdullahi Ganduje’s Intervention


Abdullahi Ganduje

Image: Kano State governor, Abdullahi Ganduje

Since the post Beijing era whereby the issues around the imperative of granting equality of opportunities to all members of mankind irrespective of gender, conversations around Women empowerment have occupied the front burners across the globe and in Nigeria where a significant percentage of women are well educated and widely travelled but are often schemed out of sensitize political offices these same line of conversations are a national pastime.  

But again, due to inertia and lack of proper mobilisation,  the Nigerian Women don’t have any cohesive national platform for championing the call for the fundamental rights of women to be accorded a priority same as those that protects the other members of the human race- the men, Children and the aged. 

Progressively, governments over the past many years have systematically infiltrated the National Council of Women Society which hitherto was the notable national platform for the defence of the rights of women. 

Political parties in power have over time saturated the hierarchy of this body with some persons who lack the zeal, determination and passion to drive through the process of the emancipation of the women who mostly bear the burdens of taking care of their homes and the Children. 

With no major respectable forum to articulate and champion the cause of women empowerment it has become increasingly impossible to put tremendous pressure on government to respect the constitutional rights of women. 

Right now as I write there is a widespread bottled up angst that the government at the center has not sufficiently carried the women folks along in the composition of the cabinet level appointments except the token of handing them just a few cabinet level positions. 

Even the woman, Miss Aisha Abubakar nominated as minister from Sokoto State is facing tumultuous challenges from the party hierarchy in Sokoto which felt cheated that no member of the political was chosen but rather a total political stranger was picked by the President to represent their State even after they laboured to win election for the All Progressives Congress.

Away from politics, the issue of women empowerment has just received a boost going by the intervention in the media credited to the Kano State governor in which he is proposing the introduction of vocational skill acquisition for the Nigerian women as strategic component of the entire scope of women economic empowerment.        

Before we delve into the theme of women empowerment as encapsulated in Governor Ganduje’s intervention let us take a look at the legal foundation of the international humanitarian laws that captures in greater details the totality of the Women, Law and human rights as stated in the book by Professor Joy Ngozi Ezeilo aptly titled : ‘WOMEN,  LAW AND HUMAN RIGHTS’.                  

 Ngozi Ezeilo a renowned rights activist wrote as follows: “A major step taken by the United Nations to concretize its recognition and promotion of women’s human rights was the establishment of the commission on the status of women (CSW).”

 She listed the achievements of this commission to include the adoption of such laws as Convention on Nationality of Married Women; Convention on the Political Rights of Women; Convention on consent to marriage, minimum Age of marriage and Registration of Marriages and the Declaration on the elimination of all forms of discriminations. Others are, the Declaration on the elimination of all forms of violence Against Women (DEDAW); Convention on elimination of all forms of discrimination against Women (CEDAW). 

It is therefore with joy that I read the Kano State governor say something that practically brings to life the import of the international law which abolishes all forms of discrimination against women known as CEDAW. 

Nigeria is a party to this global humanitarian law but we still discriminate against our women in certain jobs and opportunities.         

The Kano State Governor Dr Abdullahi Umar Ganduje is reported to have said that the time has come for women empowerment programmes to move from the primitive way of teaching them soap and sewing to more advanced vocational skills such as plumbing and technology based businesses. 

A certain Philosopher said rightly that ‘there is no Army stronger than an IDEA whose time has come’. This Ganduje’s take on women empowerment aforementioned is an idea whose time has come.

Ganduje who stated this revolutionary comment recently while declaring open the first ever Kano women development and strategic empowerment forum organized by the Ministry for Women Affairs and Social Development said women have the ability to do such works that are mainly dominated by men, “Nothing will prevent a woman from becoming a plumber or an electrician like her male counterparts. If we have women in these vocations, we can allow them into our inner rooms to repair things that need such repairs.”

The media quoted him to have said that there was the need to restructure the economic base of the female gender to be at par with their male counterpart, “How can our women take advantage of new advances in technology, new approaches to marketing and new mediums of communication for instance to become more competitive in the market.”

The governor therefore charged the forum to dig deep on sensitive issues that affect women and propose short and long term solutions that could be integrated into government‘s action plan for women in the state. Let me pray the governor to introduce a scholarship scheme whereby Kano girls willing to study vocational course and core technical engineering courses in post-Secondary educational faculties are funded up to graduation and further assisted to obtain soft loans from finance institutions to set up their workshops. 

This is a step in the right direction. The Kano State governor has therefore thrown a national challenge on the hierarchy of our policy formulation structure at the National level to restructure the fundamentals of women empowerment.  The National University Commission should learn good lesson from Dr Ganduje and possibly plead with him to do them a policy paper on this thematic area for the purposes of further national debate and adoption as part of the university curriculum in Nigeria so Nigeria can begin to churn out creators of wealth and not perennial job seekers.

Let the political parties set up workable structures for the real economic empowerment of their women members because the moment we empower our Nigerian Women then we have open the flood gates for national prosperity.  

It is true that if you educate a man you have educated just one person but if you educate a woman you have educated a whole town. Let’s advance our schemes of women empowerment to embrace technology.  Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) completely supports this affirmation by the Kano State governor and will happily partner with all right thinking persons in Nigeria to advance the cause of women empowerment. Certainly we will continue to shout from the roof tops until the right policy and institutional framework are put in place to comprehensively empower our women in the area of economy and job creation.

Emmanuel Onwubiko is Head of Human rights Writers association of Nigeria and blogs @ www.huriwa.blogspot.com; www.rightsassociationngr.com, www.huriwa.org.

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