By Onyeka Azubuke
She is one of Nigeria’s most active women politicians. Josephine Anenih, a staunch member of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, has held several positions, including her appointment as minister of Women Affairs on 6 April 2010, by the then Acting President Goodluck Jonathan. That was when he (Jonathan) constituted his maiden cabinet. She was also the chairperson of the Federation of Women Lawyers from 1994 to 2000, and was the first National Woman Leader of the PDP from 1999-2005.
Mrs Anenih co-founded the Women Foundation Nigeria, an organisation to help Nigerian women exchange views on global women’s issues and to help empower women in politics. She is a member of the Gender Electoral and Constitutional Memoranda Committee, which aims to incorporate women’s perspectives in Nigeria’s Electoral Laws. In a brief interview with Josephine Anenih during the PDP Ex- ministers meeting forum which was held on July 3 in Abuja, the former Minister of Women Affairs told Daily Asset why she feels women are not given adequate opportunity to participate in politics.
According to her, “Our society has its constraints and limitations for women. Women do not have liberty or freedom like men do to move to anywhere they so like, unlike men who have unfettered liberty to go to any where that pleases them.”She commended former Nigerian leader, Olusegun Obasanjo for giving opportunities to Nigerian women and for appointing them into his cabinet. . On their recent meeting in Abuja, she said:” This is a meeting of former ministers in the Federation, and you know that we have always been shortchanged. Thanks to former President Obasanjo that opened the way for us, that gave us the opportunity. Maybe even now you would l not even see any woman in this meeting at all. And subsequently, Government followed suit but they still didn’t meet the target that even our National Gender Policy stipulated that which is 35% representation or 35% participation of women in Governance and every other structure we never made it. But under President Johnathan we almost made 30% but now we have slid back to ‘I don’t know where the percentage is now’.
According to her,” When talking about the ministers, and other women in Governance, so it’s a question that we don’t really know the answer and so a lot of academicians , everybody is researching on that issue, how do we break or dismantle the huddles, the barriers, the things that are stopping women from giving opportunities. “
On why women continue to face discrimination, she added;” What is putting that blockage, that barrier and we have found out that patriarchy is the culprit. We are in a very patriarchy society and until cultural malaise. It’s wrong and its bad and that is what is stopping us. But we are not going to relent; they are struggling and it’s an ongoing struggle, and I know that one day sooner or later the society will understand that patriarchy is a bend to development and they will by themselves dismantle it because unless it is dismantled, it is hard task.
She acknowledges that the task ahead will not be easy. According to Mrs Anenih: “ It is going to be difficult for us to make it to the level that we anticipate that there is no way you can stand on one leg and balance a bird cannot fly with one wing.
“We know all that but still that is all we are doing short changing ourselves and stopping ourselves from moving forward and developing the society and using all the advantages and resources that God has placed using half of the potentials that we have in this country instead of using our full potential going full stem by taking the women along and working with women.”