Africa: The Untold Stories of Women in Politics

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Thursday, June 10, 2021 / 12:00 PM / Ayomide Oguntoye for WebTV / Header Image Credit: WebTV

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Ambassador Folake Marcus-Bello, former Nigerian Ambassador to Zambia and Malawi and a Lawyer recently spoke about the untold stories of women in politics and her experience as a Nigerian ambassador to African countries.

Describing her early years and background she admitted that fate has always had a hand in guiding her to leadership positions, despite being a woman the result of which she became a  full-time politician.

Politics in a democratic state according to her, should be everybody's responsibility as political engagement involves registering to vote and participating in the voting exercise.

Speaking on gender parity in politics, Marcus-Bello agreed that there was a large degree of gender disparity in politics and other spheres of life as a result of cultural beliefs, where women are expected to keep a home and be submissive to their husbands. Cultural biases suggest that women should be seen and not heard.

While narrating untold stories of women, she mentioned the challenges of women in politics noting that most of them end as single parents or struggle with their marriages. She attributed this to the nature of political activities such as tight time schedules for meetings and incessant trips within and outside the country.

Speaking from experience, she said that women are constantly questioned in politics, they are labeled, and challenged regardless of their high intellect. People, according to her, hold the belief that a woman cannot be as good as a man and as such, there is always the need and pressure for women to double their effort to prove their competence.

She added that financial constraints are a major challenge for women in politics as politics often requires a huge financial commitment. She explained that most women do not have economic opportunities that attract such finances, therefore furthering a career in politics could be difficult. 

Regardless of the lack of gender parity in politics, the Ambassador said women should not be discouraged, as the present narrative could be corrected. She had words of encouragement for women, as she advised them to allow their voices to be heard and seek opportunities in politics by reaching out to female mentors who have remained undaunted.

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