By Aidoghie Paulinus
Lawyer, politician and philanthropist, Barrister Zainab Marwa-Abubakar, has explained the moving spirit behind the Aspire Women Forum as she moves to ensure total happiness for Nigerian women, irrespective of their race, colour or creed.
Marwa-Abubakar who contested for the AMAC/Bwari Federal Constituency in the 2019 general election, said she chose to focus on the behavioural aspect of women which will in turn, engender the total happiness desired by every woman.
Amongst other issues, Marwa-Abubakar also opened up on her personal life, including shuttling between social engagements and family life.
The mission of Aspire Women Forum is to be the foremost platform for igniting gender equity by advocating and engaging in the areas of motivational behavioural coaching, politics and financial inclusion. Also, to encourage positive aspirations and a mind-set reset for success, and in turn, create a new, intellectually liberated generation of women and girls.
What informed your mission statement?
I wanted to look at these three main areas of motivational behavioural coaching. Motivational behavioural coaching is something that I actually coined myself and it just points to the motivation of women and girls; such motivation that will alter their behaviour to encourage them to aspire and achieve greatness through coaching, mentorship and enlightenment.
What do you consider the gains of Aspire Women Forum so far?
There have been so many gains. We started in 2019 and we did the International Women’s Day 2019, which focused on ‘Balanced for Better’ and it was fantastic. In 2020, we also did the International Women’s Day and the theme was ‘Rights of Women.’ We looked at the rights of women and also started looking at happiness as an inalienable right of each and every woman. And it was quite interesting and it really caught like wildfire. So, this happy conference that we had on 12th of December, was really an offshoot of what we started from the International Women’s Day 2020.
What have been the low moments?
I have to think about that. I don’t think we have really had any low moment so far in all honesty because everything is a learning process. Even when we do our post mortem on some of our outings and we sit down and check that some things didn’t go very well, but then, they always give birth to something even bigger.
What informed the establishment of Aspire Women Forum?
When I ran for office in 2018/2019, I found that there was a kind of gap in the kind of upliftment that women needed. And I thought I could actually fill that void with Aspire Women Forum. When we started, we did set out to equip women with the tools to aspire and achieve greatness and that was primarily informed by the women that I interacted with, and of course, interaction with myself and I have two beautiful daughters. So, when I interacted with the different age grades, I found that there is the gap in terms of backing and mental capacity because most non governmental organizations and even governments around the world are always focusing more on financial empowerment. But in Aspire Women Forum, we are more focused on your mindset and equipping you with those soft skills to grow in terms of personal development, in terms of looking at yourself as a project and helping yourself through the various stages of life. So, that is why we ended up looking at happiness because we found that most women were just quite unhappy.
What is the Aspire Women Network Project about?
Aspire Women Network is a project that comes under Aspire Women Forum. Aspire Women Forum is the mother body, the non governmental organization and under that, we have various projects – We have Aspire Young Women, we have Aspire Girl Force and we also have the Aspire Women Network. Basically, we are trying to build a very strong network of women around Nigeria for starters. We have our geopolitical coordinators, of course, we have a national coordinator, deputy and a secretary as well from Yoruba background, Hausa background and Igbo background respectively. These are women well grounded in politics. And we also have our geopolitical zones coordinators and we have our state coordinators under them; local government coordinators; ward coordinators and the polling units. So, we are taking it right down to the grassroots so that we can have the real strength in numbers.
Where does the magazine come in?
We initially wanted the magazine to be a yearly publication that will showcase what Aspire Women Forum has been able to do and accomplish. But when we launched it, in fact, we had so many of our guests coming up and asking us, ‘when is the next edition coming out, I have an article.’ We decided to make it a quarterly magazine.
How do you cope, being an activist, managing your foundation and participating actively in politics?
I don’t know if I am an activist. I wouldn’t call myself an activist because an activist, most of the time, stands outside of the government.
But you know you are a politician?
Yes, I know I am a politician. I want to be sure that I am standing right inside the government, side-by-side as partners for progress. But indeed, I am a politician and I am a mother of five, a wife and a daughter. I always say something that I heard. They say ‘a woman can do everything, but not just at the same time.’ So, how do I manage all of these different caps and different roles? I just try to do things at their own assigned time. I give everything my respect and my time, but I don’t just try to fuse all into one. And I am not deluded by the fact that God has been very kind to me and the fact that some things have to die for others to live. So, sometimes, certain roles have to take the back seat. Right now, I think my role as a politician is taking a little bit of a back seat, while my role as philanthropist under Aspire Women Forum for the good work that we are doing with women will take a front seat. In 2023, Aspire Women Forum might have to take a back seat in my life. Other people can control it and then I will have to be by the side. I am sort of juggling everything by the special grace of Almighty God.
Do you have the support of your family in all these?
I do have the support of my family. I have the support of my lovely husband. I didn’t know that I would come out in politics. But he seemed to know. I didn’t know that I would come out in politics, but when the thoughts started occurring to me, he said he always knew that I would run for office, which is quite strange because I actually never had the political bug initially.
How do you relax?
I relax with my children. I have five beautiful children. I have three boys and two girls.
Where is your choice place for relaxation?
Are there foods you don’t touch?
Yes. There are things like grasshoppers that they eat in my place. They eat grasshoppers in my place, but I can’t.
Do you still play basketball and volleyball?
I don’t. The most I can do is go on walk and join the boot camp.
What is your choice of fashion?
This is my look. Every day, I wear plain gown.
Where is your holiday destination?
My home in Abuja.