We need more Voices…We need to be Strategic – Ayisha

We began the Democracy, Leadership and Governance Series with a big bang this September. Ayisha Osori, CEO – Nigerian Women’s Trust Fund was everything we expected and more. It was a session that reawakened our political consciousness as we attempted to demystify the political process.

BRIEF PROFILE OF AYISHA OSORI      

Ayisha Osori is the CEO of the Nigerian Women Trust Fund, a non-profit organization focused on increasing the quality and quantity of women in government.

She kept a weekly column for five years, in Thisday and Leadership newspapers where she covered social issues, security, good governance, politics and others. Under Kachifo she has published a series of children’s textbooks on social studies, and a children’s reference book on Nigeria. She is a regular media commentator on radio and television and has been involved in numerous campaigns to improve social justice for women and girls and to improve governance in Nigeria. She is an Eisenhower Fellow, a graduate of law from the University of Lagos and Harvard Law School and most recently graduated from the Harvard Kennedy School with a Masters in Public Administration. She was called to the Nigerian and New York State bars in 1998 and 2000 respectively.

If you visit her twitter handle, you will find this description of her: Writer; dreamer; culture and development communications buff who gets absolutely riled up about injustice and abuse of power (aka ‘terrorist feminist activist’)

Below is the excerpt from our Community Session with Ayisha. Enjoy.

Ayisha please tell us, what does the Nigerian Women’s Trust Fund do?

The Women’s Trust Fund has only one purpose. It makes life a lot easier for those of us who work there. It’s a small team and it was set up to try to increase the number of women in government either through elections or appointment. So the general policy and aim is; how can we get more women into government, into decision making, influencing policy, making policy. And it was created in 2011. It’s actually a brainwave of a joint collaboration of civil society, Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development and the Millennium Development Goals office. And you may wonder why the ministry and the millennium development goal office will want to be involved in something like this. That’s because under the MDG goals for 2015, Nigeria committed under goal 3, which deals with gender equality and empowerment to have 30% women in the National Assembly by 2015 which is the next elections. So I don’t know if anybody here knows what percentage we are right now at the National Assembly, please guess, wild guess?

13? Wild guess 8%.

7. 7%. Very low. The average for Africa is actually 22%. Nigeria is at, to be precise 6.7. We just say 7 to be generous. So it’s very low. So the same way the MDGs office spends money on all the other goals is the same way it’s supposed to spend money on this particular goal. So this fund was set up to be able to tap specifically into the funding that’s available for that purpose. So it was set up in 2011, during the last elections when Iyom Josephine Anenih was the Minister and MDGs was in the hands of Haj. Amina Muhammed. We started off with a takeoff grant of about a hundred million. I mean, during that time 60 slots were given to a hundred and fifty (150) women across different parties, about 25 different parties. If we don’t have the quota, for affirmative action in our constitution, it’s very unlikely that, with all the challenges that women face in terms of economic empowerment, education, access to social justice, it’s very unlikely that just going through the election process we’ll ever get to that target. Most of the African countries that, for example Rwanda which is now, I think in terms of the House of Representative, which is the lower house they have over 50% women. So they’re number one in the world when you rank women’s representation in the parliament. Rwanda comes up tops. South Africa is also quite impressive, not up to 50 but I think somewhere around the 40s and that’s because the ruling party ANC has an internal policy. So South Africa as a country doesn’t have a quota but ANC as a party has a quota for it. So that’s why the Fund was set up, to pursue that goal.

In your work within your organization, from your experience what would you say Nigerian women are not doing right that we are still at this very low representation?

I really don’t want to start this conversation with looking at the blame on the women. I would say that politics in general in Nigeria is a very difficult terrain. I mean there’s a reason why obviously many of us are not in politics, there’s a reason why when you ask people to run, both men and women, they’ll tell you they don’t want to run. So first and foremost if we are looking at it from that perspective, our political system is a bit dysfunctional to put it mildly. So for example many of the political parties, in fact all the political parties suffer from one big issue. You keep hearing of lack of internal party democracy. What does it mean? It means that within the parties themselves, even though they have rules in their constitution, nobody obeys them. None of the parties can tell you how many members they are. That’s a problem. The reason why it’s a problem is because if you don’t know your members, there’ll be problems when it comes to election. So let me just paint this, one of the Parties recently held their convention. Now, usually at parties, they vote for candidates and officials by, they call it indirect primaries. So not all the members, so for example if all of us in this room are members of the Party, not all of us will vote during an election. What we’d do is, we’d pick delegates, we’d pick maybe five of us and say these five (that is internal party) exactly. And even for the candidates who are going to come out on the elections. So they’ll hold primaries to tell you that either aspirant A or B are the ones going to run. So, that process is called primaries. But it’s not everybody in the party who is a member, who has a card that is going to vote. It’s only delegates. But even the selection of delegates is shrouded in mystery. You’ll hear things like candidates telling you that they are trying to find the authentic delegates list because, there’s a reason why. (General laughter). You’ll also hear stories about candidates being paid 6000 dollars, 10, (yes). So that’s, because of that dysfunctional system. So as I said, and then there’s violence, you don’t underestimate violence. Then there’s the fact that the culture of politics and even governance in Nigeria is one that almost by its nature excludes women because many of the meetings hold at night. I’m speaking from experience. It’s really hard if you have a family to have meetings that start at 12midnight and last till 4am. Many women will not want to be involved. We had cases in 2011 of female candidates being beaten. I don’t know who followed the story of Mariam Ali who is the wife of a former (a PDP Chairman, yeah) yes. Who, exactly a few months ago was assaulted in her home town physically. So all these things keep women away. So unless we clean up that, it’s very unlikely we can attract more women. So that’s for me the general terrain before we say, what are women not doing right. Then specifically for what women might not be doing right. I mean, in my role. Let me use 2011 as an example, out of about … I don’t remember the exact figure but let’s say ten thousand and nineteen candidates who went through INEC in terms of wanting to run for office, only nine hundred and nine where women. So even less than 10%. So women are not showing up. If we want to use Sheryl Sandberg’s word, we’re not “leaning in”, we’re not coming out. That’s the bottom line. So not enough women are running. So 900 is less than 1000, so less than 10%. So how do you get to 30% of National Assembly when even less than 10% are running for office? So that’s the very first step, why are more women not running? And I think what I’ve explained earlier is one of the reasons. I mean, if you look at it rationally, why would anybody who had a job, decent live style want to go into politics? So that’s one of the things.

The second thing that I’ve noticed is women start too late in the process. We’ve talked and talked about it, but nobody is changing the culture. So the women who come out to compete always come out too late. So now, its five months to the general election but you find that some women are saying “oh I’m still thinking”. It’s late. Because the men who knew they wanted to run in 2015, they started the process three years ago. They are the ones who know who the delegates are because they ensured that their party members were delegates, because now they have this collection of delegates that they have invested in over time. So women always start too late.

In other words the men have been more strategic?

Yes. They are already in the game. And that leads to the third issue. Women don’t know what the process is. We don’t take time to understand what is involved. So we know that it’s dysfunctional within the parties but still don’t understand how it works in that dysfunctional order. Understand what the rules are so that you can navigate them. Women don’t invest enough time. So, again you hear of many cases of women saying they want to run, but they don’t even know what the processes are. They don’t know that delegates are selected, they don’t have the details, they just know that oh, parties waive forms. So while women advocates, gender advocates have been asking for quotas either through the constitution or through the parties. We’ve had lots of sessions since 2011 and now, with political parties trying to convince them to adopt quotas the same way ANC in South Africa did but they’ll tell you no, what we have for women is free nomination forms. So, so many women come out with just, oh yes its free forms but they don’t really understand all the other things that they need to do.

Beyond the free forms.

Exactly, so that for me is another drawback. So for me those are the key things that I think women should do better. And then, maybe the fourth and last one, because we talked about it recently. We all know how expensive politics is and I’ll even use a personal story. So a couple of weeks ago, I actually did seriously consider that maybe I should run. A lot of people have said to me “ah you should run, you know you fit the bill…bla bla bla. We need people like you”. When you hear that often enough, it really does begin to resonate and you start thinking, ah why not. And then when you mix with the politicians you are like “of course why not”. You know like you sort of say, if they can do it then I can do it. So I started consulting with the different major parties. The decision was to run for FCT in my mind. I’m not from FCT but I’ve always learnt that…

For FCT what, the House?

House of Representatives, Constituency- AMAC, Bwari. So there are three members of the National Assembly in FCT, two House of Rep Members and one Senate. So first of all you have to do your analysis. PDP versus APC, let’s just say, let’s use the two. So that’s another thing women need to do. Do your political analysis. But then you’d find out that oh, these particular people who hold these seats have already locked it down so to speak. Some party members will tell you “oh you are already late”. Which again comes back to women starting early. Why am I just thinking about it last month when I’ve known for a while that elections will be in 2015? So by that time these candidates have locked it down, they’ve been investing, they too are spending money on people who make these decisions. So I said ok, let’s try it in party B, still trying to talk to as many people as can be. So I now met with a consultant and let me tell you, my first meeting was like really an opener. So he tells me all the things I need generally to start. First of all he tells me “you need three cars”.

Three what? Three cars.

Motor?

Yes, motor (General laughter). You need three cars. Why? Because, well you know, you’ll be traveling round Abuja. So preferably a jeep because you know people don’t want to see poor candidates. They need candidates to show affluence (prestige) yes, exactly. You can’t look hungry. You must look like you are already there. So have at least one jeep, then maybe have a 406, then maybe you can have a Toyota or hmmmm, ok Golf. But you need an outrider and a back car. So why do you need that? If you are going to visit the ward or local chiefs you’ll send the three cars to go and get people ready, gather them together before you arrive. So that’s,  find the money for three cars. Then please bring 100k, (hundred thousand naira) because you need to buy your delegate list, what I talked about earlier. You need the authentic delegate list for the two wards that you are going to be contesting for. So these are the people who will be voting for you during the primaries. You need to know who they are so you’ll start building the relationship with them. That’s practical. You might need, you need a PA because you have to stop answering your phones because people will be trying to reach you day and night. Give your phone to somebody else. This person, somebody trusted who will be on retainer. Also get security because well, you know. And then, it’s on and on. Budget, once you have the list of delegates, in your mind start budgeting what you need to pay for them and it can’t be less than 100,000. And even seasoned politicians that I talked to said yes it’s true. Abuja delegates are spoilt. You know there’s a lot of money in the center. So be ready to spend at least a thousand, a hundred thousand on each delegate just to keep them sweet.

Like how many delegates are we talking about?

We could have up to a thousand. (General exclamation). Exactly.

Hm..so, how do we then get women to…

Well, we don’t.

So why are we beating about the bush about representation?

Why are we beating about the bush? I have to confess, the closer I’ve done this job for two years now and some, and the more I’ve find out, the less likely I am, the less sure I am, that we will get where we want to go the way we are carrying on without a quota. Now with a quota, it becomes, the parties have, they’ll now be looking for the women (yeah) yes. So that’s when the serious people will now say ok they are now serious and they can come out. Because all these other things they are telling me I have to do will obviously change. They now need me. So that’s why we’ve spent so much time and why more women groups need to be. I mean some of the engagement I’ve had with WIMBIZ for an example over the last two years since I came to this role was, you know policy affects business as well (yeah). If you care so much about business you need to care about people making the decisions. I mean let’s look at something practical like Ebola now and the impact on our schools. On one hand some of the debates haves been, its better this way, let our children stay home, you know we are not equipped even if some schools are equipped, some others are schools that can’t cope. But is that how policy decisions are taken? If Ebola is with us for the next 5years, are our schools going to stay closed for 5years? Do you understand? So what’s the impact on the teachers, are they going to be earning money? Are schools paying salaries now? This is where education business owners need to be saying no, we want a voice. We want to understand how these decisions are being made. The Ministry of Health just takes decision by itself, they didn’t speak with the Ministry of Education

…because there are so many other sectors that are plugged into the school system.

Exactly. Why are unions now also complaining since you are not being carried along. This is where women need to come as blocs, start lobbying. So you know when we talk of constitutional reform they don’t hear the voices of normal women. It’s just us crazy people in the NGO world who are beating the drums and saying we want this but the rest of the women are not asking and the men say but yeah, it’s only you few privileged handful of women who want it. The other women are not asking. And so for me that’s an opportunity. You know, when it comes to talking about politics and policy in Nigeria and governance, I don’t hear the voices of the educated elite women in Nigeria. They don’t have a voice. They leave it to the NGO and there’s not enough of us.

How do we get them to lend their voice?

How would I explain it? Depending on if you have a business venture.., I’ll use WIMBIZ for example just because it has people like Bola Adeshola who is a CEO. Take ads in the paper. People take ads in the paper to say happy birthday to people. Take ads in the paper and say we business people in Nigeria want these things. And the men will sit up more than if me and Hajia Saidatu of WRAPA are the ones always pushing forward our papers to them. So come together. When we make announcements and say we are going to the National Assembly to talk on these issues, come with us. When we complain about the fact that the women there don’t help, the reason is because they are too few and it’s really very hostile. The truth is, from the people that I know within the National Assembly for example, if you just get up to talk about women, they’re “hmmm hmmm abeg abeg, sit down, you you”. But if there are more women it’s harder for the men to do that. So, it helps to have more women in the room. You know all these “I was the only woman, I was the first woman”, perfect. But we need to move away from them. There’s actually safety in numbers. I firmly believe in it. There’s power in numbers. You need even more numbers.

We can’t always be just a rag tag of 50 women asking for this thing. Abuja has a population of how many million people, why can’t we have more women coming? But you people are in your offices and you think that this is just the job of a few people. But, the numbers, more people speaking about it is important, more people talking about it in their business forum for example…

With all the problems and everything that we are able to identify, what do you think, do we now as women start lobbying or fighting for quotas?

I think that’s definitely, I mean, for us in civil society and also just looking at the experience. I mentioned Rwanda, many of the countries. If you see any that has large numbers, the number one way of getting there is through the quotas. That’s the safest, surest way. Nothing new about it. Over 60 countries in the world have quotas for women. So they understand that including women enriches policy and decision making. So it’s just a practical thing. The reason we can’t seem to get this quota is just because of how lucrative government is. That’s the bottom line. Business, government is the most lucrative business in Nigeria. So getting in is very contentious, very competitive and the men want to keep it to themselves. When you talk about reaching out to the women, in our past year as Nigerian Women Trust Fund, we’ve written every single female legislator in Abuja, saying this is who we are, this is what we are offering. You know, I didn’t talk of the fact that we do Leadership Development. You know the idea then was, how do we support women who are there? You go into the building, we’ll write you and say, you know what, do you have an agenda? How can we help you? Do you have any gender agenda? Do you need information? Do you need data? How can we help you impact? None of them are interested. Did you vote for them?

How many people replied to your…

None. No one responded to those cold calls and to be fair, you know Nigeria. How many letters would you get. So nobody responded to those cold call letters.

Why do we have to reinvent the wheel if we have people that have been there before us?

I feel that way. So for me, again, the next thing, in addition to fighting for quotas which we can keep doing, we don’t know how long that fight will take. How about we identifying women who we think when they get there they will be for us.

Who we think?

Yeah, who we think. It’s a gamble. Who have you put in? Who have we women put in? You didn’t put, I’m going to call names. Did you put Abike there? (No) Did you put Zainab Kure there? Her husband put her there, that’s why her name is Kure. When Iyabo Obasanjo was there, did you put her or was it her father that put her? So who have women put that we’ll call on? Yeah. I’m asking of occasion where people said, these three women come oo. We’ll donate hundred, hundred naira, one million voices, mobilize for you, and put you there but give us some guarantees that when you are there you’ll be accountable to us. At least try it, if it doesn’t work it’s a different thing. And I can give an example with Ogun state. With Governor Amosun the current governor and we are trying to use that model now as we move towards 2015, but it worked for them in Ogun state. When he was campaigning, he made lots of promises to women. They managed to corner him in a place where he listed the things he was going to do for them. They said eh, please sign it, he signed it.  They went and kept it. He won and then they gave him some time to settle down then they went to remind him. And he eh (gesticulates to show nonchalance) and they said eh? They created big posters of those promises he signed. They listed the promises with his signature and of course said this man doesn’t want to keep his promises and pasted it all around the government house. Kia kia he called them (General laughter…so he said it wasn’t like that) and said let’s discuss, let’s discuss. So have we tried that women?

I think these are some of the strategies that women need to hear. Because, sure we didn’t put them there but they are there and em they are supposed to be public officers. So they are supposed to be…)

But do the men too cater for anybody? I keep saying let’s not be too hard on the women. I’m beginning to understand why women act the way they do but as I said, do the men too care for the men?

They do, to a point. You know the men understand mentoring. That’s why you see some people their job is to carry somebody’s bag. It’s like grooming. Grooming them. Don’t forget the word mentoring begins with men. (General Laughter) Somebody will be carrying their bags, by the time you know it they’ve made him a Senator, and then make him Governor. And you wonder, does it really matter? Don’t they rig the election at the end of the day anyway? It’s not really based on merit. This is the reality of it.

I’ll be honest with you, rigging is becoming harder, there’s no doubt about it. The truth is, the longer we keep at it at our elections, the more we stay on course, it’s not perfect, but the harder it is and the better our system is going to be. The only way to engage it is to keep engaging it. So for example in this room, who has their permanent voters card (I do, I don’t have). Thank God. Then so, everybody needs to… Without it you can’t vote. But you know what, let me use my own polling unit in Maitama for example. When we were voting for local government elections, my polling unit generally has about 2000plus. When it was time for local government elections, only 50 people came out to be accredited. Because you know you’ll be accredited first before voting. Then to reduce rigging, they’ll tell you, out of this 2000 only 100 came out to be counted. So the votes when you count them, cannot be more than hundred. It’s reducing. Only one, I think three of us were women out of this 50. So the women didn’t even come out to vote for local government elections. When you don’t come out, the truth is no matter what, there are printed extra ballots. So maybe with these extra ballots, now what I hear is rigging doesn’t happen at polling units anymore. It now happens at collation centres. But don’t give them the opportunities of all those excess ballot papers that they can now use, go and use to rig. Let’s use up. So we need to vote. If you register, VOTE, because you have already been accommodated in terms of the ballot papers that’s been used. So I agree with you that generally we are known for rigging, it seems our elections are …, but it’s getting better. It is improving and if we don’t keep engaging, if we don’t keep losing our ballot. It’s not going to improve just in isolation. So we have to balance the fact that yes, maybe sometimes in few cases our votes don’t count, it’s inflated, but it’s only by engaging, it’s only by insisting that it’s going to change. I keep asking, what’s the alternative? Should we just throw up our arms? No. What do we do? So they rig but it’s up to us as a people to say that we want the rigging to stop. I hear it’s harder though, honestly. It’s getting more scientific. Because that whole thing of sitting down and thumb-printing, the South West pursued it by paying for a Finger-Print expert and they found out that ah ah it’s the same thumb print, it’s the same person. So even the people who want to rig they need to be more scientific now. It’s getting harder and harder to rig. Some of the things you can do to make it harder is just keep insisting that INEC follows their process. For example we have an election timetable that says when election campaigns should start. Has the Jonathan campaign not already started? Nobody is talking. But who can compete with that? That’s an unfair playing ground. Even if we had a woman candidate for example, let me say, who is the woman that we all hold in high esteem? Well whoever. If she wanted to run and is genuine, can she compete with that kind of machinery that is in place?

But people say, please if we are supporting, let us have a sellable candidate. The issue is not even the sellable, it is getting somebody who is sellable to come out to contest. Isn’t it?

Yeah. You know when you mentioned earlier, I think you were talking indirectly about Sarah Jubril? Oh yes. Many of the people who are her harshest critics were women. And many of them were saying “but she’s not my role model so I won’t even vote for her”. So again, it’s down to the elite to bring out the candidates and that’s another very long standing battle that we have among civil societies. Because some people say stop worrying about equality for women. So many gender advocates think just allow women, you know, because the men too are bad. So stop holding the women to higher standards. If your constitution says Senator only has to have only School Cert why are you looking at the women and putting them under harsher criteria. But honestly I think (general chatter) I don’t know, I think, I have a different strategy and it comes down to the sellable candidate. We are the ones trying to get in. The terrain is very difficult and hostile and unfriendly. When the men look at us, do they take us more seriously when we send people that look like them? Do you understand? Or do we send people that can floor them in every argument that comes up? I honestly don’t see how sending weak female candidates helps our cause, because the men don’t take us seriously. Many women just take Women Leader and go and sit down. They don’t even want to look at Treasurer, Legal Secretary. I mean there are lawyers, there are accountants. You run banks. Why won’t you, why aren’t you interested in the other positions? Why do you just want Women Leader then go and sit down. We need to check our strategy. We cannot just follow the way the men do their politics because they own that game. We have to create our own game and try and beat them at it.

You know, sometimes strategy is key, how do you advice a female politician to strategize. Where do you think she should start from and what is the process?

Start going to your home or whatever constituency, start building relationships. Start. Because that helps you even save this mad cash that people spread around. That would be our strategy to women and it works. Because for 2015 right now we are late. You can now only work with candidates who are already there and see how you can support them if they’ll let you. But on the flip side is what you mentioned, there’s that cynicism that hmmm, election. The old breed female politicians don’t want to hear anything about strategy. As I said they want to follow what the men do. And for the men, it is money please, if you want to help me bring cash. No they tell you all the time, don’t tell me stories about this one, that one. Just bring money. But they don’t seem to notice that someone like Atiku is blending old and new. Atiku is on twitter, Atiku is on facebook. Do you understand. He’s blending old and new. But the women will just tell you bring money. Abeg don’t tell me about strategy.

So you start early, what next?

Do your political analysis, all those things matter. For example, let me use Benue State politics as an example. Most governors want to move to the senate. Now, if Gov. Suswam wants to move to the Senate, he’s going to have to off-set Gemade, the sitting Senator. Now a woman who comes and says she wants to enter that kind of fight, are you crazy? Do you understand? Is it realistic for you to come and say you want to run from that zone for Senate between these two elephants? There’s a fight on the ground already, (general laughter) Yeah. So move to somewhere else. So blend, start early, start knowing your political terrain, do your political analysis. Where best do I enter? Don’t be emotional about the parties, they are all the same, PDP, APC, etc, they are all the same. Just enter one and that’s part of the political analysis. Will this party win (work) in my state? Do you understand? And it’s not easy to join a party. Trust me.

So it means that we are thinking it’s just talk, there is work to be done.

There’s serious work to be done and women have neglected this area completely. And it’s not really our fault. If I use myself as a typical example, and I say I only ever voted for the first time in 2011. I was really not, I wasn’t raised, I don’t think my parents deliberately raised me not to be politically conscious, but I grew up with that perception that politics is for dirty people, bad people. We don’t want to go there. So we’ve all been raised, and then as women too, when the rhetoric around politics is, and I won’t lie, ok no names but Chatham House rules… a former PDP National Chairman told his daughter, my friend, we went to Secondary School together, we’ve been friends since we were 9/10yrs. She said I want to run daddy. He said eh, only prostitutes run for office. This is a former National Chair of PDP who has been Minister in this country many times. He said to his daughter, “only prostitutes run for office”. He’s an educated man. He believes it.

Meaning he’s actually lending credence to what is being practiced. He knows what he has done.

My intent is for us to also change that narrative. The narrative can only change when decent people come out. Can anybody say that to an Okonjo? Can anybody say that to a Bola Adeshina? Prove yourself somewhere else. You don’t just come from nowhere. So all these people, even the men, you google them, it’s as if they never existed until they got this position, it’s as if they had no life. So of course where do they come from? But when you come from a background, you are experienced, you are confident, you can challenge the men, you know what you are talking about, you are an expert. I think it was Eugenia Abu in the Friendraiser video that was saying “know your stuff”. Do you understand? And that’s another thing. You want to be a candidate, what are you known for? At least we know what Buhari stands for. At least you know what this other person stands for. So build a brand around something. Choose an issue and let it be, when they think about that issue, your name is among the names they think about. So if you want to get into politics, build a brand around yourself and what you care about. I’m for violence against women, I’m for small scale farming. And focus your energy on these areas so that you are known for it, you become synonymous with it, you become a brand. Everybody thinks about you when they think about that issue. It will be a lot easier. For encouragement because I know I have shared lot of bleak stories, but there’s some, there’s a very encouraging story from the South East about a woman who did what I’ve just said. Started early, did her ground work as a grassroot person. She was not being over ambitious. She’d grown the things she wanted to grow and also joined the party that in that state was the winning party. Unfortunately she didn’t win the primaries. Her people said to her, go and join any party quickly, we’d still vote for you. And she joined a mushroom party and she won. So that show’s you that we can, that’s why I keep saying just stop focusing on the way the men play politics. We cannot beat them at that game. They own that game. Just create your own and build the network/relationship with the people. Women do that so well. We can do it. It’s just that we need time. It’s a long term investment. It’s not something you start today and want to run tomorrow. You just need to start early.

So, let me ask, but if I decide to run despite all the scary things that they told me, will Friendraiser do me a fundraiser?

We can. (general laughter). No seriously. Can means there is potential, because, it’s because of issues like this we’re positioning to have “SHE Forum Africa” in Abuja on November 25, that’s a conference we are introducing so that it will be an annual event. And we are convening that with our eye on 2015. By then we would have had women who are interested in coming forward. So it would serve as a platform. It’s the least we can do to bring them together. Come and you know serve on a panel, let people hear your voice. Let people see your worth, your value and know that ok you really do have content. So that’s what we are working on in the background and we are hoping that it will hold as we anticipate.

Great. Again it comes back to this, that if you sit in the right spaces, if you listen to the right rhetoric and the right words, we can change the narratives about women in politics and we can make it seem like something we can do and we can achieve. Just, let’s not kid ourselves that it’s easy, you know. Let’s be strategic. Let’s know what we need to know, let’s find out how we want to play it and then go in with our eyes open. It’s definitely doable.

That’s a wrap. (Applause). She has to come back.

I have to come back?

Yes. Now more than ever because the season is here and we need to resonate these things. Thank you very much for coming to Friendraiser.

Thank you for having me.

September 14th, 2014 Posted by admin Filed in: Monthly Spotlight