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PCA: Will Bulkachuwa play the valor or villain?

Out of 43, only seven women were picked as minister in the Muhammadu Buhari-led administration. A cabinet without a good number of women is definitely lopsided. Aren’t we bothered that a setting where critical decisions affecting about 200 million people are taken, has only an infinitesimal number of women? Ironically, every man there has women at home but they feel comfortable sitting without women.

Women have always been the live-wire of social life and the local economy. Yet when it comes to allotment of positions of power, they are relegated to the background.

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Over the years, many commentators and feminism advocates have expressed concern about the continuous disparity in the sharing of positions between men and women.

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It is common to hear women talk about how poorly they are being treated by men. Men are always fingered in the gang up against the female gender. Of course, there are many unapologetic and nauseating misogynists. But as we lament men’s unfairness to women, we should as well not be oblivious of the suffocating actions of women against women.

One obvious fact is the failure of women to rally round their own kind. Women have been described as haters of women. At family level, it is always the mother-in-law versus the daughter-in-law. At work place, it is woman boss against her fellow woman subordinate.

Research over the years has proved that 40 percent of workplace bullies are women. Men don’t seem to discriminate between men and women targets, whereas women bullies are more likely to bully other women.

Women can treat other women at work badly. A female boss can be particularly harsh, demanding, mean, and borderline harassing. Women may gossip and talk poorly behind their female colleague.

Women can call fellow women derogatory terms. They refuse to be open to ideas from other women (even if they were great), and yet jump at the chance to take on ideas from male counterparts.

Though this poor behaviour of women towards other women is rife, there are also several women who are amazing leaders and very much support other women in the workforce and other areas of life. These women are often the most successful and represent the kinds of examples we need to set for other women.

History shows that Nigerian women are great. There abound exploits showing the might of the Nigerian woman. There occurred what colonial historians have called the Aba Women’s riots of 1929. It was a way of stopping the imposition of direct taxation and the introduction of new local courts and especially of warrant chiefs. Before the colonial time, women were involved in several heroic deeds. Sadly, same women hardly do well for themselves. Shouldn’t women fight for their own well-being as well?

If we really want to achieve equal status with men, we should take the lead; women need to support women. The often poor talk about women must stop.

If we want gender equality in the workplace and beyond, women should stop bullying women and the heart of a woman should be for a fellow woman. In fact, there should be a norm that says any woman who stands in the way of progress of a fellow woman or looks away as a woman trudges on the path of progress be branded an enemy.

Women should support women to overcome obstacles, to crush male chauvinism so they can pursue their dreams and attain the heights they crave. Whenever there is a better position to be filled, women should support a woman to take such. Women need to be lifting, supporting, and celebrating other women instead of trying to bring them down.

Now is time for women groups and rights activists to stand against any shenanigans that will jeopardise the course of the making of another female President of the Court of Appeal (PCA).

The Federal Ministry of Women which headquarters are nearing completion in the heart of Abuja just opposite the headquarters of the Court of Appeal and the National Council of Women Societies (NCWS) should not be dead to the subtle approach used by a woman to deny a fellow woman opportunity to succeed a woman as PCA.

Unfortunately, we forget history so quickly. The woman who is currently sitting as PCA was subjected to an arduous task by a fellow woman who had the privilege of aiding her ascension to the top judicial office. Rather than celebrating her as the first female PCA in the history of Nigeria, the woman was rather uncooperative in the mission. Five years past, the same woman sitting as PCA is back in the same game. History repeating itself!

The appointment of Aloma Mariam Mukhtar as Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) in 2012 was preceded by intrigues and conspiracies. Before her, all the Chief Justices were male. Despite her competence and tall credentials in the bench, they would not easily give her the position. It was a tough battle. Having ascended the topmost positions in the judiciary (CJN and PCA), it was expected that women would entrench a process that would be advantageous to them thenceforth. This was however not to be.

Today, a woman does not want a woman to be the second female PCA. Why should we deny a woman who has in the last decade headed different divisions of the Court of Appeal without reproach and being the next most senior in rank the opportunity to be PCA?

We do not want to lose the position. It is clearly a woman’s own. We urge our amiable Honourable Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa to clear the path for a fellow woman to succeed her.

She told the world that she had to step down as chairperson of the five-man Presidential Election Petition Tribunal chiefly because she was hounded for being a woman. If that was the case, what is she doing now toward tackling segregation against the womenfolk? Will she look away as a woman is being schemed out right under her nose? Will she rise above feminist pettiness and give impetus to woman emancipation struggle? I beckon to women of great minds and fellow feminists to rise and take up the challenge of making another female PCA.

Adewole, feminism advocate writes from Lagos, Abuja

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