A female law student of Babcock University, Bukunmi Abraham has, among other runner-ups, emerged as the overall winner of the ‘What Women Can Do’ virtual competition organised by the Akin Fadeyi Foundation on the 11th of October, 2022 in the culmination of the International Day of the Girl Child, 2022.
The Akin Fadeyi Foundation, a MacArthur Foundation grantee, is communication for change centre focused on human rights, and sustainable political, socio-economic, and environmental transformation. Since 2016 its inception, good and gender-inclusive governance has been one of its core focus areas and this competition is an offshoot of its earlier advocacy and intervention campaigns tagged, ‘Put on Your Thinking Cap’, ‘Gender Inclusive Governance’ media parley and various citizen interactive engagements for good governance led by the Foundation.
According to the Executive Director, Mr. Akin Fadeyi, the ‘What Women Can Do’ competition” by the Foundation was aimed at showcasing the ability of women to proffer solutions to issues of governance as a bolster to the quest for a more gender inclusive governance in Nigeria.
For him, this campaign became imperative following the statistics that women make up “47% of the electorates that put men in office, yet the representation of women in elected offices has been on the decline. Therefore, Akin Fadeyi Foundation chose to create this platform to raise public consciousness about this imbalance and to introduce new voices in the narrative for a more gender-inclusive governance”.
Special Guest at the event and Co-Director, On Nigeria of the MacArthur Foundation, grantors of the Akin Fadeyi Foundation, said “At the MacArthur Foundation, we have always upheld diversity, equity, and inclusion as an affirmation of our values.
“Hence, we have always, therefore, been attentive to gender equality and equity in our engagements, recruitment and other spheres of our work. We prioritize diversity, equity, and inclusion and have always been enthusiastic to ensure GESI enhances our anti-corruption, accountability, transparency, and participation outcomes.
This is why what Akin Fadeyi Foundation is doing here, stimulating the energy of Nigerian women to envision a corrupt free society as part of a strategic design template for governance. Having women lend their voices to what they will do against corruption if they have a shot at power is also very appropriate because corruption is the reason misappropriated funds leaves women vulnerable to the deficits occasioned by lack of the infrastructure or amenities that guarantee relative comfort for women more than men”.
Shettima added that “There is no gainsaying that there are drawbacks in a patriarchal dominated political/governance environment and this is why this platform for the Nigerian women and girls is germane as we continue to raise the bar in gender-inclusive or if you like, gender parity narratives.
“While the prizes at stake incentivize voice action, the contestants present today should begin to embrace the bigger picture which is how this exercise by one of our grantees, the Akin Fadeyi Foundation opens such vista for them to play a part in mainstreaming gender as a crucial theme in our nation’s policy formulation”.
The competition, which was keenly contested by 15 female finalists drawn from various geo-political zones of Nigeria, saw them pitching their ideas to judges who are also partners in the cause of sustainable development. The five-person panel of judges comprised, Mr. Odeh Friday, Country Director of Accountability Lab; Adeola Fayehun, a journalist and sociopolitical satirist; Mrs. Ramatu Umar-Bako an equality and diversity Champion; and Ms. Yemi Adamolekun, The Executive Director of Enough is Enough.
At the end of the debate, six winners emerged, among whom were, Oreoluwa Aladejuyigbe as first runner up, Mariam Dauda Longe as second runner up, Chimdalu Nnenne as the third runner up, while two contestants, Salawudeen Rafat and Oloye Rachael Aina, both clinched the position of the fourth runner up.
In her celebratory remarks, Bukunmi Abraham of Babcock University, who was overwhelmed with emotions of surprise thanked the Akin Fadeyi Foundation for the platform she was given for the amplification of her voice in the cause for gender inclusive governance. She promised not to relent until the seeming impossible task of having more women in governance is achieved. She also thanked her fellow contenders and enjoined them all to keep the conversations alive in their respective corners.
The event was well attended by stakeholders from various public and private institutions. In her closing remark, the Head of Programmes at Akin Fadeyi Foundation, Mrs. Oluwatomi Okeowo promised that the Foundation has taken up the baton to push for good governance and this can only be attainable when there is fairness in the level of gender representation in Nigeria’s governance structure. She, therefore, promised that until this cause is won, the Akin Fadeyi Foundation would continue to champion efforts like this.
She thanked all those present, including representatives of the media for their continuous support of the Akin Fadeyi Foundation’s work.
Besides being awarded the prizes they won, the Akin Fadeyi Foundation also gave all the contestants honoraria as tokens to encourage their various efforts and endeavours in pushing for a more gender inclusive country across all levels and spheres of national life.