By: Joy Odor/Kaduna
The League of Democratic Women (LEADS-NIGERIA) and Action Aid Nigeria has organized a one-day interactive forum to identified issues surrounding low participation of women in politics and governance, how to promote their participation and strategies that could be used for better electoral outcome of women in Nigeria.
The Executive Director of Leads-Nigeria, Mrs. Rebecca Sako John in her welcoming address at the Forum for Women Participation in Politics held in Kaduna, North-West, Nigeria on Thursday, informed that the forum was necessitated as a result of the drastic reduction of women’s participation in politics and appointments across all level of governance in the country in recent years.
According to her, there is need for women to come up with an open heart to actively participate so that they can contribute their own quota for the development of the country.
Presenting the Overview of current situation analysis of Women’s Participation in Politics and Governance in Nigeria by Mrs. Ngozi Okorie showed that the country’s politics is still largely dominated by men in elective offices while Nigerian women participate only in rallies, campaigns, voter’s registration, voting and contesting.
She mentioned that the Analysis also indicated that women’s huge contributions during politics are currently not translated into parliamentary seats and has over the years not been encouraging.
“Women have numerical strength but their numbers are irrelevant in governance. According to Nigerian Bureau for Statistics (NBS) report 2015, women constitute 49.5 percent and men 50.5 percent of the population while in 2015 elections, the total number of registered voters was 68,833,476, out of this number, men had 22,944,984 registered and women had 45,888,984 registered.
“49% of the voter’s registration populations are women yet only 7% (INEC 2011) are in governance” the report said.
According to Mrs Ngozi Okorie, Nigerian women have the lowest representation of 5.9% in the National Legislature when compared to most other African Countries and not to talk of the Highly Developed Countries (HDC).
“Uganda has 34.6%, South Africa (43.2%), Ethiopia (27.7%), Cameroon (20.1%), source- Daily Times, May 18th, 2012 while in the area of political representation in governance, Nigeria has paltry 7% women representatives, the lowest in the World.
She therefore attributed voter apathy, lack of empowerment, gender role, stereotype, men discouragement, selling of vote and stigmatization some of the factors militating against full participation of women in politics.
Mrs. Ngozi Okorie enjoined women to rise to the challenge, saying the era of just been used for rallies, campaigns and voter registration are over.
Contributing, one of the Panelist, and Head of Unit “Gender Office at the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Kaduna, Hajiya Rabi Saleh Tukur was of the opinion that unless women are focus, educated, enlightened and empowered, they will continue to be relegated.
While, the Chairman of Kaduna State Independent Electoral Commission, Dr. Saratu Dikko-Audu empathized that political parties are the most important institutions affecting women’s participation in election.
Represented by the Legal Officer at the Commission, Mrs. Christy Samuel Karik, Dr. Saratu said from the Data Back 2008 of the Commission, 85 females participated in vying for position of chairmanship and councillorship, only 23 candidates survived to run for the elective position while 5 candidates emerges elected after screening and payment of non-refundable fees.
“I urge this gathering as women advocates to take this advocacy to the lawmakers to have more gender friendly laws being included in electoral law which may help to boost women participation in politics”, she stressed.