Home » Obiaraeri writes on sexism among Imo women

Obiaraeri writes on sexism among Imo women

by OkeomaNews


Simply defined, “sexism” is “prejudice, stereotyping, or discrimination, typically against women, on the basis of sex” while “misogyny” is “dislike of, contempt for, or ingrained prejudice against women”.

Any society that is guilty of either sexism or misogyny is backward, uncivilized and unprogressive. Coincidentally and sadly, Imo State is liable to be characterised as one such regressive society because of scant or no regard for women in matters of participation in politics.

In Imo State politics, hatred for women is not thinly disguised. It is the predominant practice and sort of openly accepted norm going by recent developments which make it an emergency or SAVE OUR SOULS [SOS] situation.

This intervention could as well have been captioned “SAVE IMO WOMEN FROM IMMINENT EXTINCTION BECAUSE OF HATRED OR DISCRIMINATORY PRACTICES” because right to Political participation and decision making is a universally recognised fundamental human right.

Before one is dubbed an alarmist by those who are wont to jump into hasty conclusions, take the following hard statistics from the just concluded 2023 general elections.

■ 1. All the three Senators-elect for the three Senatorial Districts in Imo State [simply called Owerri, Okigwe, Orlu zones] are male. None is a female. This means that the voice of Imo women will not be heard in the Senate of the Federation for four years beginning from the time they will be inaugurated in June 2023 to their end of tenure in 2027. Meanwhile, none of the serving three Senators in Imo State is female. By the way, it was only in 2007 that Imo State elected the first female Senator, Senator Chris Anyanwu of Owerri Zone who served two terms between 2007 and 2015.

■ 2. Out of the ten newly elected members of the House of Representatives in the ten constituencies in Imo State, only ONE is female. Meanwhile, there is only one serving female member of the House of Representatives out of the ten presently in office from Imo State.

■ 3. All the twenty seven newly elected members into the twenty seven seats in Imo House of Assembly are male. None is female. Presently, there are only two serving female House of Assembly members in Imo House of Assembly. As no female was elected in this last election, the obvious implication is that when the new House members are inaugurated in June 2023, for the next four years ending in June 2027, there will be no female member of the law making body in Imo State.

Yes, Imo State will have an all-male dominated House of Assembly from 2023 to 2027.

■ 4. As though these cold facts revealed in 1, 2 and 3 above were not enough, at the conclusion of the 2023 Governorship primary elections by the political parties ahead the stand alone Governorship election in November 2023 in Imo State, none of the political parties elected a female Governorship candidate. Logically, it follows that irrespective of the political party, since no female is on the ballot, one of these male candidates will be elected Governor of Imo State in November 2023.

When the newly elected Governor would have been sworn into office in mid-January 2024, both elective arms of government (legislature and executive) in Imo State will be patriarchal and completely excluding the female gender.

■ 5. The chauvinism in Imo politics is further demonstrated by the fact that all the key officials of these political parties (Chairmen, Vice Chairmen, Secretaries, Organising Secretaries) operating in Imo State are male.

This gender insensitivity in political participation which is pivotal to economic emancipation and empowerment is unacceptable hence this SOS FOR IMO WOMEN.

If all 42 elective offices in Imo State [3 Senate, 10 House of Representatives, 27 House of Assembly, 1 Governor, 1 Deputy Governor), where then lies the United Nations midwifed Sustainable Development Goals and particularly Goal 5 on Gender Equality? Why must the tenets of gender mainstreaming be obeyed more in complete breach than observance in Imo State?

Beyond politics and partisan considerations, any nation, state or society that neglects her womenfolk is doomed. In contemporary times, gender balance or sexual equality have become irreducible minimum components in key governance or political issues across the globe. Any society that does not take concrete affirmative actions to improve on the rights and freedoms available to women in all spheres of life including political participation is declared primitive and denoted as uncivilized. Many may not know that Imo should be a leading light and inclusive society where all her citizens are actively involved in decision making in all aspects and where no child, woman or man is left behind or excluded, on the basis of gender.

That is the thrust of this advocacy and clarion call for urgent redress.

What should be done in the immediate and long term to address the obvious imbalance? Affirmative actions are required, not lip service or bogus promises.

Given that women emancipation and compulsory participation in the political process is no longer a matter of tokenism, it is suggested that the following affirmative actions MUST be taken-

⚠️ 1. All the political parties, without exception, should adopt a female Deputy Governorship candidate for the 2023 Imo Governorship election so that whichever ticket that is elected will have a female Deputy Governor in office in 2024.

⚠️ 2. More women should be elected/appointed as Executive Chairpersons of Local into the twenty seven Local Government Areas in Imo State.

⚠️ 3. In the new Government that will be formed from mid- January 2024, more number of women should be appointed into high profile executive positions as Commissioners and Special Advisers.

NBA, FIDA, NMA, NUJ, CAN, ICAN, ANAN, PSN, PFN Branches in Imo State, NGOs and CSOs, gender and human rights activists in Imo State and beyond, Imo Elders, Imo women, Imo Youths, Imo In-Laws, Imo friends, Imo Political Class and other stakeholders of enlightened consciences must rise up to redress the political extirpation of women in Imo State.

This call is beyond partisan considerations as misogyny runs against the letters and spirit of the African Union Agenda 2063 one of which is to achieve a balanced participation of women and men in political and public decision-making.

Under the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW for short) and the International Bill of Rights (comprising the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, 1966 and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, 1966 and its Optional Protocols), political and economic exclusion is violence against women.

The complete exclusion of women in Imo politics is discriminatory as it offends the provisions of section 42 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. 1999 as amended on right to freedom from discrimination. This retrogression and reversal must be condemned and massively rejected.

As clearly demonstrated above, the emerging all-male dominated leadership in Imo State in no small measure offends known human rights sensibilities and gains recorded on elimination of discrimination against women in Nigeria. It signposts an unacceptable regression into the dark days when women were destitute of rights and regarded as chattels.

Conclusively, this charade goes beyond partisan politics as it is a gross violation of the inalienable freedoms and fundamentality rights of Imo women to political participation. As, all political parties without exception are guilty of this anomalous development, Imo people, particularly women and youth, should be prepared to vote against the ticket of any political party that does not have a female Governorship running mate.

Women’s rights or gender or sexual equality are not mere catchphrases. Sexism or misogyny is a crime against humanity and must be roundly condemned in our polity.


A new normal is possible!

Prof Obiaraeri, N.O.

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