Dr. Fatima T. Lawson
Lessons learned from the recently concluded Nigerian elections make it imperative to explain the importance of a woman’s vote! Over the years, a woman’s vote and voice have been camouflaged by forces well beyond her control, notably, antiquated mindsets about a woman’s role, misconceptions about women in politics, lack of adequate resources to compete on an equal footing with their male counterparts, and of course the system’s failure to promote equal access and participation for women. This practice is not endemic to Nigeria alone, for many well-meaning women have had to fight for the right to vote and be heard from different corners of the world. Nigeria was not absent in this bid for a woman’s right to vote. From time immemorial, women have played an important role in shaping the world and making it a better place for all. Nigeria’s history is full of forward thinking women who braved the shackles of tradition and fought for liberation even before the advent of western education in Nigeria. Women, such as Queen Amina of Zazzau, Moremi of Ile-Ife, Emotan of Bini, Mme Ikonna Nwanyiukwu of South Eastern Nigeria, laid the foundation for other women of valor to tread. More recently, we have had women such as Mrs. Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti, Lady Margaret Ekpo, Mrs. Janet Mokelu, Hajia Gambo Sawaba, Madame Tinubu, just to mention a few, who not only fought for women’s equal participation in governance, but also went against all odds to fight against practices like the arbitrary taxation of women, and ensuring that Nigerian women have the right to vote, and be voted for by both men and women! There are other numerous examples from historical books and events, but suffice to limit the examples to elucidate the point of women’s contribution to the right to vote.