The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on Monday, said that women remained disadvantaged in electoral processes and governance in spite of its commitment to inclusive democracy.
Dr Adekunle Ogunmola, INEC National Commissioner (Ondo, Ogun and Lagos States), disclosed this at the Capacity Building Workshop for Gender Desk Officers (GDOs) of the commission in Lagos.
The workshop, powered by the European Centre for Electoral Support (ECEC) is tagged ‘’BRIDGE Training on Gender and Elections.’’
The BRIDGE-Building Resources in Democracy, Governance and Elections, had INEC GDOs across the 36 states of the federation and FCT in attendance in the five- day-long training.
According to Ogunmola, as a responsive election management body, INEC is committed to fostering inclusive democracy.
Ogunmola said INEC accomplished the task by ensuring a level playing field for all stakeholders in the electoral processes, irrespective of sex, creed or tribe.
“Despite efforts made so far in encouraging the participation of all, women are still disadvantaged on several ways.
This is so much that issues of gender remained an important consideration as we discharged our electoral management functions.
“Paving way for an inclusive electoral process requires diligent commitment and dedication to gender-responsive principles and standards of operations.
“As a commission, we are resolved to sustain incremental improvement of women’s level of participation in the electoral process through strategic intervention.
“Through the entire electoral cycle, the commission has undertaken adequate reforms in its policy and operational guidelines to address factors that inhibit women’s effective participation,” he said.
Ogunmola, also the Chairman, Outreach and Partnership Committee (OPC) of INEC said the workshop was to equip the commissions’ Gender Desk Officer the capacity to carry out gender mainstreaming in the electoral process.
According to him, the BRIDGE module narrows the training focus to sensitise electoral administrators about the importance of women’s empowerment and entry points for gender mainstreaming in the electoral process.
“The commission’s commitment to building an inclusive democracy where equality and equity are guaranteed cannot be over emphasised.
“In giving effect to this commitment, INEC Gender Policy with its implementation framework was introduced in 2014 to effectively mainstream gender concerns in the policies, processes, plans and operations of the commission, he said.
He said that other area of focus in the workshop was ensuring global standards, principles and management techniques fundamental to good electoral practice, especially from a gender perspective.
Ogunmola said that since 2015 general elections, the commission had engaged with several stakeholders to explore new says of strengthening the participation of women in the electoral process.
The commissioner urged the GDOs to pay attention to gender equality issues in the discharge of their duties.
He said the training would not only deepen the knowledge of GDOs for them to understand mainstreaming in the electoral processes, but also its implication on the credibility of democratic elections.
Earlier, Mr Dominique Weerts, ECES Project Director, said the centre was the implementing partner of component 1 for the European Union Support to Democratic Governance in Nigeria (EU-SDGN) programme.
“Global statistics for gender parity indicates that in 2015, out of 188 countries, Nigeria was 152 position in human development index in Gender inequality and 118 position out of 192 countries in 2017.
“Despite the fact that the women demography makes up the largest voters’ population, women in Nigeria constitute only 5.8 per cent of the political space,” Weert said.
The director, who noted that there was low participation of women in Nigeria’s electoral processes and government said that the 35 per cent affirmative action for women inclusion in governance remained a target.
He said that since 2010, ECES had implemented 70 projects in support of democracy and electoral processes in 35 countries, mainly funded by the EU and its member states.
Weerts, also a Senior Expert in Governance, ECES Headquarters, said that the centre was one of the most important implementers of EU funded electoral assistance activities.
The project director also said ECES was supporting INEC to strengthen the commission’s capacity in delivering inclusive, free and fair election during 2019 general elections.
Speaking to Newsmen , Mrs Blessing Obidegwu, Deputy Director, Gender Division, INEC said that nations where women participated in electoral processes and governance tended to develop more.