Former President Olusegun Obasanjo and his Mauritius counterpart, Ameenah Gurib-Fakim, have challenged African women to fight for their rights otherwise they would continue to be shortchanged in politics and socio-economic developments.
The former presidents made the assertion in Lagos yesterday at the 2018 Women Power launch titled: Smart Economics: Empowering Women in Changing World, organised by the Murtala Muhammed Foundation (MMF).
Obasanjo said it was unfortunate that Nigeria, where women constitute 52 per cent of the population, had not allowed women to contribute their quota to national development in politics and the economy.
He said although, education and empowerment were good to enhance women’s position, it was, however, time for them to move from the bedroom to boardroom politics by using what they have to make society to do whatever was required to improve their participation in development.
“From my experience as past president of Nigeria, I discovered that women are more reliable in politics than men. I don’t know of other countries, but in Nigeria, if you hold any meeting with women and they tell you goodnight, it is goodnight.
“But anytime male politicians tell you goodnight, you must be conscious that another meeting is about to start. Women must get their rightful place. My advice is women must be ready to also use men to get what they want,” he stated.
In her keynote address with the theme: Daring Women Empowerment Will Be A Socio-Economic Game Change For Africa, Gurib-Fakim said countries that place more emphasis on women education develop more than those that do not.
“Women education has the propensity to reduce gender inequality. Investment in girls education is critical and this is one area we women need to change our mindset in the 21st Century,” she said.
The former Mauritius president added that $90 billion was lost when a girl fails to be educated, which she said, indicated the value of a single educated woman in any society.
“I urge that African women must tame timidity and learn to take risks,” she stressed.
Explaining some of the ordeals women go through, especially in Africa, Chief Executive Officer of the foundation, Aisha Muhammed-Oyebode said: “It is estimated that women constitute about half of global population.
“The same is true of Africa where there are about 600 million women and girls of its 1.2 billion population. Women have, for a long time, been acknowledged as the cornerstone of Africa’s economic development.”