Several factors, including societal norms and values, sexual harassment, gender discrimination, religious beliefs, constant threats, and ethnicity, were among the challenges faced by female students in leadership positions at their various schools. . school governance process.
Speaking in an interactive session hosted by HEIR Women Hub with some executives from the National Association of Female Students of Nigeria (NFSAN), female students decried that besides the factors listed above, other issues limiting them include the poor self-esteem experienced by many women, limited support from other women, zero willingness on the part of female students to take on leadership and leadership positions.
Other factors identified are the lack of female role models of leadership that they could look up to and the fact that women in managerial/leadership positions hardly recommend other women for leadership positions, neglecting competent women and giving more opportunities to men.
One of the participants, Stella Oji, regretted that most people still mistakenly believe that women should not be in leadership positions and that most women who try to break down prejudices are discouraged as much as possible or even suffer from harassment.
NFSAN Chairperson, Oyo State Chapter, Peace Oyeleru gave an example from her school, where she said gender discrimination is still a major obstacle for them. “If a woman says she wants to be president of an association, especially a student union, all the men would work against her because they don’t want to work under her, they see women as inferior to them. While many of us struggle with this bias, female student leaders must also seek to mentor others who come after them to build their capacities so that they, in turn, can challenge bias.
Recounting her personal experience, State Chair, NFSAN, Aliyu Mariam of the Federal College of Education, Zaria said that she once aspired to be chair of her department, but was told emphatically that a woman could not govern because it was not Islamic. “After the elections I won, a man was declared the winner but this experience did not discourage me. I upgraded to the SUG level contest and was again told that women were not allowed to enter. I went to solicit other ladies and we fought this rule tooth and nail. Today we have about eight women on the executive board and people were shocked at how we did it. They kept asking what we were doing and now the current school administration is happy to work with us because they said we cooperate well and don’t cause any trouble. Currently we have a female candidate for SUG President and we will support her as much as possible whether she wins or not. Discrimination against women is commonplace and it is worse in the north where women are seen as inferior beings.
Amina Umar from Ibrahim Bademosi Babangida University, regretted that ethnicity and low self-esteem still prevent girls and women from aspiring to leadership positions. Women are strongly discouraged from running for elective office of any kind, which keeps us in a grip”
Speaking on the solutions, NFSAN National Chair Modupe Mary Adetiba and Deputy General Secretary Janet Bukola, the duo agreed that the ‘pull her down’ syndrome needed to be eliminated and they should get together. encourage each other to succeed. “Some women would join men in placing obstacles in the way of women leaders just to destroy them, this should not be the case. Capacity building is needed and our schools must help improve gender equality by revising the statutes of their schools, which should reflect gender equality. In addition, women must set a good example for others who follow them so that they are inspired to do so. It is easier to castigate women who do not do well than men, so women leaders have to work twice as hard to be recognized. Mentorship, awareness and positive impact would also go a long way in bridging this gap,” they said.