The immediate past Minister of Women Affairs, Dame Pauline Tallen, has urged President Bola Tinubu to fulfill his promise to implement the 35 per cent affirmative action for women in appointments.
Tallen, who made the call in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja on Monday, said women played critical roles during Tinubu’s electioneering campaign and his eventual victory.
According to her, she strongly believes that the president will appoint and empower more women than his predecessors because he has always believed in women’s crucial roles in governance and politics.
She said: “It is a known fact that in every election, women play critical roles in the campaign, especially the last minute door-to-door campaign, and the last general election was not an exception. The actual campaign that brings votes is usually done by women, it is called door-to-door campaign, and women are the engine of that campaign. That is why we always clamour that women are not often fairly treated at the end of elections. The President promised in his inaugural speech to give special attention to women and youths in line with the 35 per cent affirmative action for women. He believes in working with women and supporting them, I urge him to fulfill it.”
Tallen said women always enliven political campaigns because they carry their roles as mothers into campaigns, adding that their direct one-on-one campaign strategy is always a game-changer in determining election outcomes.
“For me, electioneering campaign is not merely about going from state to state for political rally, which is more like a mere jamboree, the big deal is the quiet, behind-the-scene, door-to-door engagements and mobilisations done by women, which usually garners the votes and determines subsequent victory.
“Gender equality is the smartest thing to do; globally, it is the smartest way to go, so as to bolster a nation’s economy because empowering women is synonymous with empowering the family and the nation,” she added.
Tallen, a former deputy governor of Plateau State and also ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo’s minister, noted that Tinubu was the first governor to pick a woman as his deputy, as Lagos State governor.
She expressed optimism that Tinubu, who has a soft spot for women, and supported his wife to become a senator for three consecutive terms, would redeem the affirmative action promise to women.
On the recent renaming of the National Centre for Women Development after Nigeria’s former First Lady, the late Mrs Maryam Babangida, Tallen described the decision to immortalise her as timely and well-deserved.
According to her, the late Maryam Babangida was immortalised because she was the first Nigerian First Lady, who pioneered the advocacy which brought women issues to the fore, elicited national consciousness and built the centre.
She noted that many women became aware of their rights through Maryam Babangida’s Better Life for Rural Women Programme, following which government started giving attention to issues affecting women, adding that she is happy that she has been immortalised.
“The late Maryam Babangida deserved the honour because her tenure as the first lady of the Federal Republic of Nigeria was exceptional, as far as giving voice to Nigerian women is concerned. She did so well; she gave women the voice, the platform, and the opportunity to be heard and be relevant.
“Her advocacy on issues bordering on women in government, women empowerment, maternal mortality, girl-child education restriction, harmful cultural practices, like female circumcision, land tenure, among others, which affect or render a woman irrelevant in the society, spread like the gospel.
“She raised those issues and brought them to the front burner and, for the first time, the rural women had a voice, they became relevant in the scheme of things, and women at the grassroots were made relevant,” Tallen explained.
She also appreciated the efforts of female National Assembly members like the First Lady, Sen. Remi Tinubu, Rep. Abike Dabiri, Rep. Nkeiruka Onyejeocha and Sen. Nora Daduut, who ensured that the bill to effect the name change was passed by the 9th Assembly.
“Majority of members of National Assembly are men and it is not often easy for a woman to push any bill and get it through. This one was just remarkable, being a rare bill that was passed and signed into law by President Buhari.
“That is why we are clamouring for more women to be elected into the National Assembly, because the more women lawmakers we have, the easier for bills that affect women to be passed,” she said.
Tallen disclosed that the Ministry of Women Affairs under her collaborated with both male and female lawmakers for the speedy passage of the bill to rename the centre and immortalise Mrs Babangida.
The former minister added that she was fulfilled by her achievements in office through nationwide advocacy for women, which culminated in states’ domestication of myriad of women and girl-child rights laws.