The European Centre for Electoral Support (ECES) on Monday says democracy will lose its meanings unless women were given opportunity to participate actively in the political process.
ECES’s Project Director/Senior Electoral Expert, David Le Notre, made the assertion at the South-West Zonal Workshop on Women Participation in the Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) and Collection of Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) in Lagos.
Newsmen report that the workshop, powered by the ECEC in collaboration with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), had several Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) in attendance.
Newsmen report that the workshop considered the role of CSOs in the CVR and collection of PVCs as 2019 General Elections approaches.
Represented by Mrs Cathy Latiwa, ECES Project Officer, Le Notre said that women, who constituted about half of the population, must be carried along in every facet of development.
According to Le Notre, ECES is INEC implementing partner of the European Union Support to Democratic Governance in Nigeria (EU-SDGN) programme.
“The objective of the workshop is to sensitise the generality of Nigerian women on the need to register in the current CVR and collect their PVCs.
“ECES is proud to associate with this worthy step toward ensuring broader participation of women in the political process within the context of the EU-SDGN.
“Democracy will lose its meanings unless the women are given the opportunity to participate actively in the political process both as voters and candidates.
“Women participation enriches democracy and makes it more responsive to the aspirations of the people.
“The women are born managers and this is manifested in the prudent manner they manage household resources and nurture children from cradle to adulthood.
“All these attest to the organisation prowess of women which if translated into governance can lead to sustainable development.
“It is however, unfortunate that women participation in the political process has been limited.
“Fewer women than men have been voted into political offices despite the fact that majority of voters are women,” the director said.
According to him, INEC data show that 54 per cent of men and 46 per cent of women voted at 2015 general elections.
He, however, said that Nigerian women had the lowest representation of 5.8 per cent in the National Assembly when compared to most other African countries.
Notre said that Uganda had 34.6 per cent of women representation in Parliament while South Africa had 43.2 per cent, Ethiopia, 27.7 per cent and Cameroon, 20.1 per cent.
In his remarks, Dr Adekunle Ogunmola, INEC National Commissioner for Ondo, Ogun and Lagos States, said INEC placed premium on gender mainstreaming to ensure an all-inclusive participation in electoral processes irrespective of gender, race or colour.
Ogunmola, who said that there should not be any form of discrimination against women said: “INEC is trying to find ways of ensuring that women participate more in CVR and in collection of PVCs.
“Women participation in electoral processes has not been encouraging, that is why we are making concerted efforts at ensuring that we bring improvement in women participation.
“We want to ensure that more women participate in 2019 elections either as voters only or candidates of political parties,” he said.
According to him, voters’ apathy, lack of adequate sensitisation and society issues has been identified as reasons for low participation of women in electoral process.
Earlier, Mr Sam Olumekun, INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner in Lagos, said that the theme was very apt as the nation prepares for 2019 general elections.
Olumekun, who was represented by Prince Abdul-Ganiyu Asade, Head of Department, General Administration and Procurement, INEC, Lagos said that the commission had been concerned about involving more people in electoral processes.
According to him, Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) are central in promoting civil liberty, consolidation of democracy and good governance, saying engagement of CSOs with the commission have yielded positive results.
“Despite the efforts made so far in encouraging the participation of all, women are still disadvantaged in several ways, there is need for more engagements of CSOs,” Olumekun said.
Also, Mrs Blessing Obidegwu INEC Deputy Director, Gender Division, said the workshop was in line with INEC Gender Policy to encourage more women ahead of 2019 elections.
According to her, a gender balance in electoral process will bring more development than when only one gender-dominate political space.