On the 4th of May, 1979, Margaret Thatcher became the first female British Prime Minister, serving in that role for over a decade. It took a further 26 years for Britain to get its second female prime minister, Theresa May. Both women were extraordinarily intelligent, organized, dedicated and experienced. Today, in Nigeria, there has been no State that has recognized women in leadership like Kwara State. The AbdulRazaq led-administration, has indeed, projected the State for not only national recognitions, but also fielding women personalities who are extraordinarily intelligent, organized, dedicated, experienced, thick skinned, successful in a number of fields, ambitious and strategic to position of governance for international standard.
In Kwara politics, invoking facts from the past, if not for the gains made by women in the affairs of government, in recent years courtesy of His Excellency, Mallam AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq, the access of women to the upper levels of the government hierarchy has always remained limited.
When it comes to political leadership, it is generally accepted that slight variations in performances can vastly alter rewards. The case of having massive electorates as women but insignificant ratio when it comes to attaining positions. Overall, the political mobilization and election performances of women has been greatly overflowing compare to their male counterpart, highly distinguishable in favor of women. But, the difference in their respective rewards has been pitiably massive in favor of males.
The Kwara politics thus become a contest between the two genders — a contest in which the males receive relatively high reward and the women receive relatively low reward. Past Administrations subjected women to second choice: women respond less positively than men to the incentives associated with the political competitive settings; women are more easily discouraged than men by random adversities; and women are more likely than men to avoid political competitive settings.
As our political advancement becomes more reliant on contests, these observable practices by the previous Administrations indicate that women will continue to be at an increasing disadvantage as they move up the leadership ladder since the old ways suggest that ending overt discrimination would not break the glass ceiling. But while the above practices add greatly to our understanding of the preferences of men and women, they are limited by the features that give them credibility.
It is enormously important to publicize and celebrate women “breaking glass ceilings,” especially our indefatigable women in Kwara State, such as the energetic education Commissioner, Hajiya Sa’adatu Modibbo Kawu; productive Finance Commissioner, Mrs Florence; Dr. Jemila; Mrs Adeyi Kaosarat amongst others — they affect and inspire so many lives. However, there is an equally important need to focus attention on the next step – making it easier for more women to get to the top.
Malcolm Gladwell’s book, Outliers, listed the key universal attributes of ultra-successful people, one of which was that, they had all spent years honing their craft. From Modibbo to ABK, each one had spent an average of 8,000 hours (that is over two years, working 10 hours, every single day) doing nothing but studying, practising, working on the one thing that ultimately made them successful.
As opportunities, by His Excellency Mallam AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq, given to our women beamed across the world, millions of women now know it’s possible for an extraordinary woman to wield a big enough sledgehammer to break the glass ceiling and crawl through. If our women spend more time learning about and publicising what it takes to wield that sledgehammer over the next few years, we’ll have enough women standing on top of that glass ceiling to shatter it for good.