It was a bright Monday afternoon on 2nd December 2019 being the 8th day of the #16daysActivism. OLPHI in partnership with Flying Eagles women Development Initiatives had a session with some women that aspired into the hallowed chambers of Imo State House of Assembly. It was really fun sitting with them. So many of them did not turn up because it was a Monday, the 1st day of the week.
We had Eight (7) ladies in attendance and 1 man who accompanied one of the ladies but was willing to be part of the discussion.
It happens that so many of them have not heard about 16days Activism so we briefed them on reasons behind the establishment of United Nations days of Activism which is primarily to reduce Gender Based Violence. We talked about World Pulse and what it is like being on the platform. I took them through the signing in process. I am looking forward to reading their stories soon if they keep to their words.
We had a wonderful experience sharing on how they fared pre, during and post elections.
All issues working against women in politics played out against them – Patriarchy, lack of huge financial base to influence voters, psychological violence – of coercion to give up their mandate to certain men, hate speech and degradation, sexual violence by party men who wants to have carnal knowledge of them before they will support them and physical violence during collation of results. They were not allowed into the collation centres, and to make sure they did not see the collated results they were told to go home and come back to the next morning. By the time, they got to the collating centre, the results have been moved, so they could not follow up on their results except to hear it when they were announced.
Another shared that we should take up a serious campaign to re-orient our women since the majority of voters are women, if we succeed in obtaining a behavioural change on the attitude and mindset of women on why women should have more representatives in community, local government, state and federal government it will be a work over in 2023. So the work towards women representation in 2023 election starts now.
We will actually need fund because lack of economic resources also was a major setback to women winning the elections. There was massive voting buying and selling on that day. The women you have assisted in one way or the day (even given them financial assistance) will still demand money on the day of the election which was what played majorly against women on the election day proper.
Good news that came out was that they obtained their nomination forms free across the parties but they had to travel to the Nation’s capital of Abuja to pick up those forms.
Another success story was shared by one of the aspirants (Hon. Victoria) shared what worked for her, when we were looking at what we could do differently considering that women are still under represented. She told us that she is new in politics and have not been residing in her local community for a long time before the elections. But what worked for her was the skill acquisition training she organised majorly for the women. That little free training on liquid soap making, disinfectant and bleach endeared her to so many people and those women voted for her en masse.
So way forward, we agreed to carry out massive skill acquisition training in different local government areas according to what they women will want to learn and also build their capacity through experience sharing on what works for them in their community by way of unburdening themselves. We also agreed on mindset change through community campaigns leveraging on existing women platforms in the local communities and the urban communities.
All in all they adopted #IStandWithHer as our new platform slogan.