By Ayomide Oriade
The 77 female delegates at the ongoing National Conference have determined to tackle the issue of gender disparity in the course of the conference. This is hinged on the alleged harassment of the Conference Secretary, Valerie-Janette Azinge.
Report by Premiumtimes has it that Mrs. Azinge, colleagues say she was constantly harassed and nearly all the powers given to her under the proposed Rules of Proceedings were either amended or given to the Chairman of the Conference, Idris Kutigi.
It took the intervention of Otu Duke, a delegate from Cross Rivers State, to stop an amendment which was proposed to transfer the power to append her signature on the Conference Hansard to Kutigi.
It was reported that the female delegates, who met shortly after Monday’s plenary sitting, expressed disappointment at the way the male-dominated Conference treated Mrs. Azinge and have thus took a decision to challenge any other attempt to sideline Mrs. Azinge by their male delegates.
A source, who was at the meeting but pleaded not to be named because she is not authorised to speak on the matter, explained that subsequently, female delegates would vehemently oppose any attempt by men to malign or sideline them.
She said, “We have decided to speak with one voice on any matter that we feel strongly about.”
Mrs. Anenih was also said to have cautioned her female colleagues not to oppose any matter they agree upon as a collective. “We should not miss an opportunity to make meaningful impact at the Conference,” she was quoted as saying. “This is a golden opportunity God has given us. We cannot fail to use it to our advantage.
“When one person has spoken on an issue affecting us, no other person should speak against such matters. When they (men) realised that we are speaking with one voice, they will take us very serious.”
They female delegates claimed that some of the objections that were raised against the Secretary was because she is female. “Are you telling me that if the Secretary was a man, they would have done what they did today?” one of the female delegates was quoted to have asked.