March 10, 2020
Senator Biodun Christine Olujimi has said if the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) cannot enforce its protocols of thirty percent women parity, it should not be talking about it.

According to her, if this milestone would be achieved, there is the urgent need to write letters to the sub-regional countries who are signatories, and until that is done there cannot be improvement in female representation.

In an interview ahead of elections of Deputy Speakers, Senator Olujimi noted that she was not sure if the fifth legislature could produce two female Deputy Speakers. Eventually, the fifth legislature had Adja Satu Camara Pinto from Guinea Bissau and Kaboubie Reine Bertille Sakande Benao’s attempt of being a second and third female Deputy speakers dashed.

“We have less women in the fifth legislature, which was a major concern in the fourth Legislature. We had twenty-one females out of the one hundred and fifteen and in this current Legislature we are less in number”.

She further pointed out that when you do not have strength in the female numbers, it become very difficult to push the female empowerment agenda. Again, “we are only paying lip service to women empowerment and it is a problem in Africa”, she lamented.

“Look at Nigeria, out of the thirty-five member delegation we have to the ECOWAS Parliament, we have only two females, Burkina Faso has one, same with Ghana and the Gambia. Women empowerment we are just saying something to represent something and it is not good enough”.

According to her, with the population of West Africa, the representation should have been forty-five females to sixty-five males; “but right now it is not”, she pointed out strongly.

As to why female representation is not showing up strongly, she made a case that the blame should be put at the door steps of leadership at the various Assemblies and Parliaments, as they have their own reason for doing what they are doing by getting in more males.

“In our own case in Nigeria, we did not know the female ratio that was coming to the Community Parliament until we were heading to Niger for the swearing in of the fifth legislature, for us to notice that we were only two. We should have had at least six females. She stated that ECOWAS needs to enforce its protocols more especially with countries that are signatories need to enforce it by writing letters to the countries on the thirty-five percent representations”.

As to whether there would be improvement this time around seeing women heading the yet to be formed committees, she noted that it comes again to the representation of females from various countries, adding that as in the case of Togo, they do not have a female representation, and also if  it has to do with country representation of committees.

Kwaku Sakyi-Danso/