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INTERVIEW: We Need More of Women in Politics — Mrs Bolanle Sarumi(BASA)

Bolanle Aminat Sarumi is a woman that combines beauty and brain in equal proportions. She is a United Kingdom trained social worker, entrepreneur, advocate and politician. In this interview, she speaks with YEJIDE GBENGA-OGUNDARE on women in politics, women having streams of income, the likelihood of Nigeria meeting up with the 35 percent affirmative action, among other issues.

How easy is it to be a female politician?

It is very easy to be a female politician once you know what you stand for, you have principles and stick to them. You cannot afford double standards or not being focused.

Do you think there’s a restriction on women in the professional circle in Nigeria?

To some extent, there can be restrictions but this should not discourage us from exploring our potentials. What we need to do is to keep pushing on. Personally, I haven’t faced any of these barriers but that doesn’t mean it does not exist.

Should marital status be a criterion for measuring women’s success?

Definitely not. It’s a blessing if you can be successful career-wise and also be married, but if you are not married and you are successful in your career, there is nothing wrong in that as well. So, it should never be a criterion whatsoever. A woman should not be relegated to just her marital situation.

What is your view on the 35 percent affirmative action?

Well, it’s not going to happen when we still have less female elected officers in the House of Representatives and the Senate. We will also have a low percentage of women in elective posts and they will never sign it up. What we need to do is to look for strong organisations, bodies and women that can support when female politicians do come up and the governors of each state are responsible. They can actually nominate the women they want to go forward.

What’s your opinion about women in politics?

It is needed and we need more of women in politics. Then as women, we need to ensure that when we are in politics, we keep our integrity, stand on our principles, apply morals and do not mess around. We need to maintain decorum when we are there so that we can be respected.

How can women get involved in policy making even when they don’t hold political positions?

They can try to lobby but that’s not going to get anywhere. So, women really need to hold political positions to make a difference.

Are women treated fairly in politics?

Definitely no. This is not the case. And then, the small percentage of women who are there already do not help matters; many of them are not assisting the younger ones.

What do you think of the belief that attributes a woman’s success to sexual promiscuity and assistance from men?

I can’t say much about that. However, we need to change that notion; there are many women who are doing well in their various fields. I am moving up the ladder and I don’t have to compromise myself and men have not disturbed me because of the way they see me. So, it is the way you carry yourself, the way you speak, the way you move is what determines how men will handle you

Can women be good leaders?

Yes. Women can be great leaders because naturally we are homemakers, so we have the qualities to be great

What do you think of women having streams of income?

Women need to have multiple streams of income so that they can have financial independence and help when their husband is down. Women need streams of income so that they don’t have to depend on men or others for every need . As a business woman, I do many things; I make wedding dresses and uniforms for schools and security companies. I am the CEO of some companies and I do not think it is too much to explore your potentials.


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Segun Akinlabi

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