By Lizzy Okoji
A member of the House of Representatives, Dr Haruna Mshelia (Federal Constituency of Hawul / Askira Uba), listed negative culture, religion and illiteracy as the biggest obstacles to women’s empowerment.
Mshelia, who is also a member of the ECOWAS Parliament, said this in an interview with reporters Thursday on the sidelines of the decentralized meeting of the ECOWAS Parliament in Monrovia, Liberia.
Mshelia said women have the ability and all it takes to lead, but the three factors of negative cultural practices, religion and under-education have suppressed them.
However, the legislator called for the implementation of positive actions to put women on an equal footing with men, thus guaranteeing their empowerment.
“Gender issues are things that affect the region in general, every country is affected and like I said, there is no man on earth who doesn’t like women.
“Unfortunately, because of our cultural and religious practices, women have found themselves on the small side of the stake.
“Because cultural and religious factors favored men, men are dominant in all sectors of society, politically and economically.
“If we are to fix this, we need to examine these negative cultures and religious influences that repress women.
“We should say it as is and come up with laws, action plans that will help women come together.
“When it comes to intelligence and the ability to lead, there is no difference between men and women, but all I’m saying is, let’s create a level playing field.
“Again, once women are educated, it means empowerment because they can do any job; they can drive and start learning skills, ” he said.
He said if women had a level playing field over a period of time, all of these things would be resolved.
Mshelia also suggested that a quota or affirmative action be made justiciable so that if women do not get their legitimate positions, their political seats, they can go to court to claim it.
He called for the abolition of certain negative practices against women such as female genital mutilation (FGM), child marriage and the lack of rights to inheritance and land.
The lawmaker has advised women to support each other, alleging that women are enemies of themselves as they tend to support male counterparts on their own gender during elections.
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