All over the world, we are seeing campaigns to encourage more women to become involved in politics. Despite this, women like Esther Nenadi Usman, the former finance minister for the Southern Kaduna state in Nigeria are still few and far between. Globally, women are hugely underrepresented in the political arena as a whole, but particularly in the top positions of importance, such as the economic and financial arena. Indeed, it was the first female prime minister of the United Kingdom, Margaret Thatcher, who said that, in order to achieve the same success as men, women must work twice as hard. And, unfortunately, this is still true today.
For Usman, key is to learn to understand why women are marginalized in the political arena, and particularly in the top positions. She believes that, for a large part, this is due to ingrained prejudices, which continue to place the woman as a second-class citizen in a world dominated by men. Nenadi does not believe that women simply do not have the drive and determination to take over male dominance. In fact, she believes this is a male concept designed to further oppress. Similarly, Nenadi Esther Usman believes that it is men who feel that women could never get sufficient support in a party-political system. Nenadi does recognize, however, that, whatever the reason, women continue to be in the minority and she finds this surprising, particularly considering the fact that the way people see women’s rights, even in Kaduna, has changed so dramatically.
Senator Nenadi Esther continues to be a rare occurrence. The United Kingdom, the Ukraine, and Germany are three countries in which women hold positions of power. But even there, the deck seems stacked against women. Consider, for instance, Margaret Thatcher, who many believe was the worst, most oppressive prime minister ever in the history of the country. Indeed, Esther Usman acknowledges that Thatcher’s policies were nothing short of controversial. Yet, Nenadi Esther wonders how many of Thatcher’s poorer policies were put in place due to the influence of men. It is impossible to look behind the scenes, after all.
For Esther Nenadi Usman, it is about time that women realize that their place is not second to men. Their place is not to walk behind, but to walk alongside. She believes there is nobody on the planet who would say that it is right that women are paid less for doing the same work as men. Nobody would say that the act that women have fewer rights, do not have the same access to education, healthcare, and food resources, is right. Discrimination against women is seen everywhere and Usman believes that she has to set an example within the political arena. She believes women like her are able to bring forward a power shift in politics, but she needs other women – and men – to push it through to the end. It is only by working together that true equality may finally be achieved.