By Wilson Adekumola
The Kukah Centre in partnership with Global Rights, Kaduna State Peace Commission and the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, has organized a townhall meeting in Kaduna, to create a platform for women to voice their concerns and ensure they are actively involved in governance.
The Executive Director of the Kukah Centre, Fr. Atta Barkindo, while addressing the participants at the opening one-day meeting, explained that the meeting was organised for two reasons: “first, it is intended to provide women the platform to voice their concerns and ventilate their grievances regarding the impact of violent conflict on women and girls in the region, the lack of inclusion and the continuous abuse of the rights of women across the region.
“The second reason is to enable them to articulate strategic policy recommendations for sustainable and affirmative actions of inclusion in different government structures”.
Barkindo explained the reason they chose northwestern region for the commencement of the engagement is because it is the only region in Nigeria with the highest number of states (7 States), adding that “current statistics shows that the region has about 49 million people, which constitutes 23% of Nigeria’s total population, and about 49.2% of this population of the Northwest are women.
“In some countries, this population would have been of massive advantage (in Singapore – they pay young couples to marry and have children). Yet the region continues to maintain the highest rate of poverty.
“According to the 2022 Multidimensional Poverty Index – Northwest states above national average of 40.1 %, Sokoto – 87.7%, Jigawa 87%, Zamfara 74%, Katsina 56%, Kano 55%, Kebbi 50%, Kaduna 44%. There are so many factors for this situation”.
While noting that the northwest is remodeling very fast, he said women are left behind, stressing that the socio-economic participation of women is barely 30% and political participation is very abysmal.
“We have many women who are victims of political violence, rape, early marriage and sexual assault. Many women are denied inheritance and left to cater for the family as widows (in my village the two incisors are removed when the husband dies). At the same time, the Northwest has produced some of the finest women as rulers and intellectuals.
“For instance: Amina Nikatau, popularly known as Queen Amina – was the first female to become queen in a male dominated society. Professor Asebe Kabir – A professor of literature at the Uthman Danfodio University, Sokoto. She was recently inducted into the National Academy of Letters. Priscilla Ankut – pioneer vice chairperson of the Kaduna State Peace Commission, and now working with the African Union Security and Peace Department.
“Hajiya Samira Balarabe, the first female registrar of Kaduna State University. We are gathered here not just to complain, but to celebrate women and the contributions they have and can make to peace, security and governance in the region,” he stated.