Dr. Emilia Ezeude is the President, Women in Politics Interparty Network, (Lagos chapter), a coalition of female politicians from various political groups across the country.
She is also an aspirant to the House of Representatives on the platform of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) under the Ajeromi-Ifelodun Federal Constituency.
Passionate about touching lives, she set up the Keeping Hope Alive Foundation, an NGO targeted at the less-privileged and down-trodden in the society. In this interview with IJEOMA THOMAS-ODIA, she shares her political journey and her zeal to improve the narrative.
What informed this coalition?
This coalition was formed about eight months ago due to the many challenges faced by women in politics in the country.
Since 1999, the number of women in political positions continues to decrease in Nigeria such that the percentage of women in parliament in the country has become one of the lowest in the world.
Ironically, women are unique beings packaged by God to cause a difference and provoke positive change in their environments.
But unfortunately, they have been relegated to the background. Nigeria is a signatory to most of the international instruments on women’s rights, especially the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights, the National Gender Policy and Vision 20:20. Sadly, these rights and ideals have remained mere rhetorical postulations.
Is this platform structured to comfortably accommodate women from different political parties?
It is well structured. You see, many of us have realised that unless we are able to work together, we may find it difficult resolving issues affecting us in politics.
So, when we come to Lagos Women in Politics Interparty Network, we drop our political affiliations; we are all one, fighting for a common good.
We work together to support female aspirants in our different local governments to achieve their goals.
How then can women change the narrative?
Changing the narrative is very possible, the participation of women in politics should be beyond mobilising, praise-singing, fundraising, party supporters, husband supporters and women leaders.
We need quality representation in decision-making.
The whole essence of this organization, therefore, is to have government and political parties commit themselves to addressing challenges that are holding women down, to drive the implementation of the National Gender Policy and ensure women constitute at least 35 per cent elective office holders and that winning is increased to 50 per cent by 2030.
Also on our agenda is to increase the number of women occupying leadership positions within political parties’ structure and to support women candidates during elections and appointments.
All these will help ensure women contribute their quota to national development.
How will you achieve these goals?
We have done so much. We’ve done a lot of trainings and recently, we held a mega rally in all states where we have a chapter currently.
This is to further advocate for the inclusion of women in governance.
With barely five months to the 2019 elections, it this attainable?
We are very sure. Even though we are a bit new, majority of us are politicians and players in the terrain.
We’ve been working in various local governments and within a short while, we have been able to appoint coordinators in all local government areas in the various states where we exist.
These people are actively engaging in grassroots work and mobilisation already.
So, what will change about the way women will do politics in 2019?
Women are getting to know that politics is serious business and that power is not served a la carte, but that you really have to go out and fight for it.
In the past, when you call for political meetings, you hardly see women except the ones that come to dance and sing. But these days, when you call for meetings, you see them talking and participating.
Having vied for the Lagos State House of Assembly in 2015, what has politics taught you?
My experience in politics has taught me a lot including knowing that everything depends on you and that when you plan well, you can achieve a lot.
As a 2015 aspirant to the Lagos House of Assembly, I learnt that if you want to vie for any position you need to organise yourself.
You need to also identify your needs, strategise properly, identify possible challenges, understand that politics is time and money demanding, and that it requires boldness and much more.
That’s why I say politics is not for nursing mothers.
My experience has also taught me that unless one has reached a certain financial level in life, you cannot attempt vying for election because even if anybody is going to assist you, you must show evidence of your own commitment.
I say this based on my own experience. My experience has also taught me that politics is a game of numbers.