The Women Arise for Change Initiative (WA), an NGO, has called on government at all levels to establish a Women’s Trust Fund to support female politicians bidding for elective positions in the country.
Dr Joe Okei-Odumakin, President of WA, told Newsmen in Lagos on Tuesday that empowering the women was one of the best ways to give women voice to participate in politics.
According to her, Nigeria has not fared well in terms of the concrete implementation of the affirmative action.
“ The only best way government can give women voice to participate in politics is by establishing a Women’s Trust Fund, to provide support to female politicians bidding for elective position,’’ she said.
She also called for provision of enabling leadership skill development for women aspirants as well as organise community support for women in politics.
“Another way is to empower them politically by ensuring that there is internal democracy in the political parties, which will ensure affirmative action.
“At least, 30 per cent of the women should be encouraged and supported by the political party machinery to contest elective position.’’
She noted that there had been considerable increase and improved collaboration, and partnerships on the implementation of the affirmative action amongst different groups and actors involved in achieving affirmative action.
Okei-Odumakin noted that the different groups tried to promote gender equality, women empowerment and increase women representation in politics and decision-making.
She said: “as we speak, Nigeria is yet to achieve the 35 per cent affirmative action for women representation in elective and appointive positions.
“ What we have now is still a far cry from the 35 per cent; we have not even achieved the 30 per cent bench mark that we set for ourselves in the National Gender Policy Document.
“There is need for government to do something in this regard.’’
On safety for women and girls, Okei-Odumakin called for the enactment of a new law that prohibits violence against women and implementation of the existing law that prohibits violence against women.
“ I also suggest the establishment of safety agencies that will ensure the safety of women and girls in public spaces such as schools, hospitals, parks among others.
“There should also be a comprehensive awareness campaign on the issues such as rape, domestic violence, kidnapping and all other crimes against women and girls.
“The establishment of safety nets and counselling centre in the local communities is also very essential at this time,’’ She said.
The human rights activist, therefore, urged security agencies most especially Nigeria Police to develop a strategy to secure women and girls living in vulnerable areas.