Nigeria: Women shatter the political glass ceiling in Africa's most populous nation

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Nigeria: Women shatter the political glass ceiling in Africa's most populous nation

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Eunice Atuejide’s face dripped hot sweat as she gesticulated toward a group of other female politicians gathered before her. They stood still, their face muscles taut with determination, as they chanted in unison: “No women, no nation!” It was a call to arms for Nigeria’s female politicians gathered at the 2018 General Elections Aspirants Summit (GEAS) in Abuja in August, held to support them in the country’s national polls next year. And it’s a call that’s resonating like never before.

For decades, Nigerian politics has remained a male stronghold, often snuffing out challenges from women even before they can seriously contest for top political posts. But as Africa’s most populous nation and largest economy heads toward its 2019 national elections, Nigeria’s women are making an unprecedented push to upturn a political system that has so far denied them.

Atuejide, a lawyer and businesswoman, is one of three female candidates who have won nominations from their parties to contest the February presidential elections. Oby Ezekwesili, a chartered accountant, and Funmilayo Adesanya-Davies, a linguistics professor, are the other two who will join Atuejide in a field with 34 male candidates, including President Muhammadu Buhari. Never before has more than one woman contested in any Nigerian presidential election.

Nigeria’s female politicians are also receiving unprecedented financial support. The Nigerian Women’s Trust Fund (NWTF), founded in 2011 by public and private sector individuals to help female politicians fund campaigns, first received a grant of $15,000 in 2015 from the African Women’s Development Fund, which supports women’s groups. In July 2018, the AWDF increased the support to $138,800. Agencies like U.N. Women, through an advocacy program called Women and Democracy in Nigeria, are backing these efforts.

Click here to read the full article published by Ozy on 15 November 2018.

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