Sen. Aisha Alhassan, Minister for Women Affairs and Social Development, has called on political parties and other institutions of governance to give women opportunities to prove their mettle in nation building.
Alhassan made the call during an advocacy visit to the Labour Party Chairman’s office in Abuja.
She said women should no longer be relegated to the back waters when their contributions could fast-track national development.
“Women are often under-represented in leadership position and decision-making process and are only sought after as electorate during elections.
“Although, the Nigerian constitution guarantees equality for everyone in governance and political participation, women have not fully enjoyed this constitutional provision.
“ Thus, Nigeria faces urgent need to fast-track increase in the representation of women in parliament and other decision-making organisations and adequately reflects genuine commitment to the principles of equality in all ramifications, “she said.
Alhassan also stressed the imperative of making women equal stakeholders in the political parties.
The minister described political parties as most important institutions driving the development process in the country.
She stressed the need be ginger women to participate in social engineering rather restricting the competent ones to women’s wings, thus making them appendages of parties.
“There should be formulated strategies for prevention of and mitigation measure for violence against women in election.
“There should also be women caucuses to provide structured support through training programmes and making work places more hospitable for women,” the minister said.
Alhassan, however, said political parties should continue to ensure that women aspirants obtain free nomination forms to contest for elective offices of their choic.
She also called on parties to ensure that women occupy at least 35 per cent of party offices.
Alhassan decried undue marginalisation of women in spite their competence and burning ambition to make a difference through full participation in policy initiation and formulation.
According to her the review of party constitution is necessary to ensure that 35 per cent affirmative for women to is mandatory and justiceable.
She said the amendment would guarantee allocation of 35 per cent of leadership position to women at the national, state, local government and ward levels.
The minister also applauded the Labour party for its commitment to the 35 per cent affirmative action as reflected in the membership of its Central Working Committee (CWC).
Responding, the Labour Party Chairman, Alhaji Abdaulsam Abdulkadir described women as equal partners in nation-building and stakeholders in the progress of the country.
He called on other political parties to borrow a leaf from his party in translating 35 per cent affirmative action into a realistic and sustainable policy.
“In Labour party, we believe in our women we don’t relegate to mere women leaders in our party.
“Our women are like our men; that is why we have two deputy chairmen in our party, we have six zonal women deputy leaders and we have gone beyond women running for deputy governorship.
“If a woman is capable and willing, let her compete for governorship position,” Abdulkadir said.