The Vice Chairman, Senate Committee on Women Affairs, Sen. Stella Oduah, says Nigeria is yet to maximize women potential and contributions in national development.
Oduah, who represents Anambra North at the Upper Chamber, stated this when she featured on the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) Forum in Abuja.
She said that the level of women participation in politics and appointment into positions was still low, and urged that more women should be given chance or supported for elective and appointive positions.
She said that it was illogical to disenfranchise, disrespect or not mainstream women, who constituted 60 per cent of the country's population.
The lawmaker said that any country that did not allow full involvement of women in politics and gave them key appointments in government would lose their enormous contributions to national development.
"You lose their strength, their brilliance, their contributions and you their participation, just because by accident of birth, they are female.
"If we are 170 million and 60 per cent are females, and you are not allowing involvement of your total population, it means that you are using half of your strength. Should that be?
"The women have to come and beg for 35 per cent, and that is what I don't understand, because how can I be 60 per cent and I am begging you for 35 per cent of what doesn't belong to you?
"I don't understand it. For me, it is male conspiracy.
"I think the male folks have looked at their inadequacy, their incapacity and their lack of strength, and decided that if they allow this group of giants (women) to participate, then they are going to be in trouble.
"So, they came together and decided we must not allow the women, otherwise they will send us out of this system," she said.
Oduah, a former Minister of Aviation, also said that there was need to address the segregation of party leadership between the male and female members.
"If you are a woman and you are leader, you are 'women leader'. If you are a man and you are a leader, you are addressed as 'leader'; it is not fair, it is unjust.
"If a female newscaster is good, she is good, not female newscaster, but if a female politician is good, she is a female politician. That is the box we want to remove."
She called for level-playing ground and equal opportunity for aspirants and candidates contesting elections.
According to the senator, that is what women are soliciting and not free nomination forms or tickets. Women have the capacity, strength and the intelligence to run any office.
"When that happens, the best of the women will emerge; women and men will vote for the female not because she is a female but because she is the right candidate for that job.
"Women are saying give us equal opportunity, give us equal right." (NAN)