Minister of Women Affairs Pauline Tallen has explained that she never planned to run for the senatorial seat in Plateau State in the coming elections but for the withdrawal of her representative who happens to be a female, Prof Nora Ladi Daduut, who stepped down as a result of threats to life.
She gave the explanation on Monday during a hybrid event, ‘Partnership for goals: Advancing the gender agenda for sustainable development; A High-Level Convergence by Pathfinder International in partnership with She Forum Africa to deepen awareness and build momentum for gender equality.
According to the minister, the female senator from her senatorial zone has survived three life-threatening attacks and has been receiving constant threats to back out of her race.
She said, “I have a sitting female senator. All I wanted was for her to continue. We have only eight women out of 109, my own senator from my senatorial zone is a woman, she is doing very well, and I’m fully ready to support her.”
While lamenting what she termed as political violence against women, the minister stated that her nomination form was picked for her by a group of women, adding that she had no hand in its procurement.
According to her, “a lot of things were put into consideration. There was an outcry of women from all the 35 states. I don’t want to be selfish but I was fighting for a just cause. I did not on my own come out to pick the form. Because I have no reason to even say I will contest for the Senate when my senator, who is a female m representing me is already in the Senate. I wanted her to continue.
“But she has been harassed. And so much fear has been put in her. Her life has been threatened three times. She has backed down because she has to live to see her children, her life must continue. That was what led the woman in my constituency to contribute money and pick the form for me. Since I represent the women, I could not let them down. I honoured their request. Mr President was out of the country then and we were time-bound because we had only two or three days to submit the form, that was done.
“But I’m sure you are aware that Mr President called for a meeting on Friday, where we discussed all these issues. At the end of the meeting, it was clear that the matter will be looked into as I’m talking to you now I’m going in for another meeting. The matter will be looked into. I know Mr President is a true father, the national chairman of our party, is also looking into it to ensure fairness.”
Tallen said even though she is not desperate to contest, she wants more seats for women.
She said: “if the Senate seat is being denied of a woman in my state and other states, women should be compensated with two or three more seats in the Federal House, House of Assembly and local government. So it is not about Pauline Tallen but is about women.”
Commenting further, Tallen bemoaned how more than half of the current female senators may not return and termed it as injustice against women, adding that it was wrong to fold her hands over such oppression.
Tallen added, “That was why I accepted the form, but there were guidelines that you have to resign 30 days before and that caught up with me. Not just my senator that her seat is threatened, about four out of the eight are not likely to come back.
“My own senator, the senator from Rivers State has been denied ticket, the only senator from North-East, who is the best candidate for the Governor in Adamawa is not coming back to the Senate, our sister Remi Tinubu her husband is going for presidential office so she cannot contest. Looking at the number of the remaining four, how are we sure they will return. Our governors are pushing them out because the Senate is becoming retirement ground, it is time for action.”
Speaking at the event, she said gender equality was the fastest way to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, adding that gender equality must start from the home.
President and CEO, Pathfinder International, Lois Quam, noted that eight countries have female presidents, and the World Trade Organization (WTO) is headed today by a woman, adding that women have been at the forefront of mitigating the COVID-19 pandemic and vaccines distribution.
She applauded the fact that women are shattering the glass ceilings in every field including sports.
The United Nations Country Rep said As the conversation on gender mainstreaming is advanced, it is essential to elevate the discourse to cast the spotlight on how to break institutional barriers that prevent cross-sectoral integration between gender equality, the disproportionate effect of poverty on women, disaster risk reduction, access to quality healthcare, education, climate action, environmental management, gender budgeting and development planning in general.
UNFPA Resident Representative, MS. Umma Mueller, pledged her support to work with stakeholders to operationalise gender policies and advocate for bills and laws that support women’s rights in all their diversity to increase the agency of women and girls for SRHR decision-making.