By Josephine Agbonkhese
Advancing women’s representation in governance will be impossible unless political parties ensure proportionate representation for both genders in their party structures.
This was the submission of former Deputy Governor, Lagos State, Princess Sarah Adebisi Sosan; President/Founder, Kudirat Initiative for Democracy, KIND, Hafsat Abiola-Costello and Mrs Ijeoma Okey-Igbokwe, Administrative Secretary, Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, while speaking at a consultative forum on women’s political participation organized by KIND in Lagos recently.
According to the trio, a balanced party structure will help ensure female political aspirants enjoy a political process devoid of bias, and increase their chances of emerging party candidates.
Decrying that female politicians were disadvantaged in Nigeria, Abiola-Costello said the nature of democracy practiced in the country was limited because it depended too much on money rather than on competence and performance.
“Maybe it is because the Nigerian masses have lost fate in the political system and believe they should seek for what they can be given by politicians who seek election; since they are unsure of getting anything from anyone once they have assumed office. The fact that women do not have the financial muscle for this makes it a problem for women aspirants,” she said.
On her part, Okey-Igbokwe further suggested that a legal instrument be put on ground to enforce the inclusion of women in the structures of the various political parties in the country, noting that only such will protect women from the nature of politics practiced in the political landscape.
Encouraging younger women to desist from critiquing government without bothering to make impact on governance, Sosan called on younger women to embrace politics, saying, “A lot of women today are well-read and I would advise such women to use their knowledge to advance the cause of Nigerian women by joining politics.
“Unfortunately, most of these people do not like to show any interest in politics but derive pleasure in condemning government affairs and decisions. Things will change for better, including the corruption level in Nigeria, if more women come into politics.”
Earlier in his address at the event, Consultant to KIND on Ending Marginalisation & Discrimination Against Women & Persons with Disabilities and convener of the forum, Professor Aderibigbe Olomola, recommended the introduction of political education in schools, emphasizing that it will help young girls imbibe the spirit of democracy and popular participation early in life.
While also supporting the call for reforms in political party structures, Olomola however said it was pertinent for the legislature to consider affirmative action for women through the allocation of mandatory quotas for women in both elective and appointive positions of power.