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Cablegate: "If Only Ms. Foster Had Come Before The

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS ABUJA 001151

SIPDIS


State for IIP/F/AF Esquetini; AF/PD Amirthanayagam
Lagos for PAS


E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KPAO SCUL OEXC NI
SUBJECT: "If only Ms. Foster had come before the
elections" - Nigerian Women lamented after Speaking
tour of Stephenie Foster, President of Georgetown
Strategies.

Summary: Ms. Stephenie Foster, President of Georgetown
Strategies, was on a speaking tour of Nigeria between
May 8 and 17, 2003. During this tour, Ms. Foster
addressed different women's groups including NGO
leaders, academics, lawyers, journalists, and party
activists on lobbying, advocacy, message development,
and coalition building in Kaduna, Kano, Lagos, Enugu
and Port Harcourt. Additionally, a "Women In
Governance" conference organized by the National
Center for Women Development in Abuja presented a
target-of portunity for Ms. Foster to address about
150 women from all over Nigeria on strategies and
programs to empower women to participate effectively
in the political process. End summary


2. Date: May 7 - 17, 2003
Fiscal Year: FY - 2003
Quarter: Third


Description of activity: Ms. Foster held roundtable
discussions with women activists in Kaduna and Kano
with advocacy and campaign skills as key concerns.
Other issues raised include election irregularities,
funding and resources for women political candidates,
cultural barriers and family issues, need for
empowerment of the girl-child, civic education at an
early age, and better statistics on women. Ms. Foster
also granted interviews to the "Daily Trust" and the
"New Nigerian," the two largest newspapers in Northern
Nigeria. The sessions in Enugu and Port Harcourt were
training sessions, while Lagos and Abuja featured
breakfast and lunch with opinion leaders.

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Justification and objective: Although women were
active in civic, political, and non governmental
organizations that worked assiduously for the return
of democracy in Nigeria, very few of them offered
themselves as candidates in the 1999 and 2003 general
elections. Even the few women who contested for
elective positions did not fare well at the polls.
Since representative democracy takes cognizance of
both majority and disadvantaged groups, the issue of
women's participation in the political process has
been of concern to political observers in the country.
PAS Nigeria invited Ms. Foster to share her vast
experience, in both Congressional and Presidential
election campaigns, with Nigerian women who have
already begun organizing themselves to tackle problems
inhibiting women's participation in politics.


MPP umbrella themes: Strengthening democracy,
especially widening the political spectrum and
democratizing the political process.


Result/impact: Excellent. "If only Ms. Foster had come
before the elections" was the lament after every event
at all program locations across the country,
indicating that women would have fared better in the
elections if they had the knowledge they gained at the
sessions with Ms. Foster. They were, however,
encouraged by the consensus that by lobbying and
advocating for women's issues they can keep their
political aspirations alive and simultaneously work at
the grassroots level to build support.


An immediate fallout of Ms. Foster's speaking
engagement was the decision by three women at the Kano
session to seek elective positions in the 2007 general
elections. It is expected that more women will take up
the challenge. Furthermore, the program brought
together, for the first time, after the elections, the
leadership of the women's wing of the ruling Peoples'
Democratic Party (PDP) and the opposition All Nigeria
Peoples' Party (ANPP) Ms. Foster received wide
coverage in both print and the electronic media.


Non-USG sources of support: An umbrella organization
of women activists in Kano provided venue and snacks
at the one-day session for about twenty participants.


Quality of agency support: Post salutes IIP/F/AF for
selecting such an effective speaker and for recruiting
her on such short notice Jeter

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