Author Archives: Erica Poff

Will the Roadmap for Nigeria’s Future Include Women?

Nigerian businesswomen take part in a CIPE-sponsored mentoring program in 2011.

Nigerian businesswomen take part in a CIPE-sponsored mentoring program in 2011.

Nigeria will soon begin a national discussion that could redefine the foundations of the entire country. Unfortunately, as originally planned, this process would have left women largely out of the conversation.

On March 17, a National Conference including delegates from government, civil society, and the private sector will convene to consider rewriting the military-era constitution, redefining the country’s internal borders and administrative structures, strengthening institutions to combat corruption, and many other issues that may shape Nigerian society for years or decades to come.

The conference could usher in important changes for a nation plagued by corruption, religious conflict, and poverty — but the original  pool of nearly 500 delegates included just 72 women from three associations. With a 75 percent majority required to take what could be fundamental decisions about the country’s future direction, women were at risk of being completely marginalized.

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Silver linings in a golden year

2010 was undoubtedly a landmark year for Africa, as 17 countries in the sub-Saharan region celebrated 50 years of independence. It has been an eventful 50 years, indeed; in terms of governance and leadership, these 17 countries have seen the pendulum’s full swing, from coups and authoritarianism to elections and democratic victories; from socialism to market-based economies. However, democratic consolidation has yet to fully occur in any of these golden-year independent nations, and in some cases, democratic backsliding is a real threat.

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Don’t judge a continent by its cover

FP: The Bad Guys IssueThe most recent issue of Foreign Policy (FP) magazine features the world’s “bad guys”, the 23 worst of the worst dictators and leaders in power today. Working in the field of African development, it is difficult to see African countries consistently dominating international lists that do little to improve the perceptions of the continent; African countries consistently hold bottom rankings in world economic development indices and lead the pack for high levels of corruption, famine, high infant mortality rates, poverty, etc. Therefore, when I pulled the most recent edition of FP from my mailbox, I held on to hope that maybe, just this once, Africa won’t dominate this list as well.

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