By Ebunoluwa Sessou
The United Nations Women Representative to Nigeria, Ms Comfort Lamptey, has said that the organization will continue to work with Nigerian women on the agenda to increase active participation and involvement of women in politics in Nigeria as decision makers.
She disclosed this recently in Lagos during an interactive luncheon organised by UN Women in partnership with WIMBIZ Political Leadership team and cross section of women leaders to review women’s political leadership in the just concluded general elections.
The event provided a roadmap to increasing the involvement of Nigerian women in politics ahead of 2023.
The theme for the interactive luncheon, “Women’s Political Leadership in the post-2019 Elections: The Road Ahead, was a-2-hour programme centred on the need to engage more women leaders in all sectors across the 36 states in different sectors including business, politics, engineering, medicine, housing, manufacturing among others in a constructive discussion on better ways to encourage more women in active politics.
Lamptey explained that, there were many factors that contributed to decline in percentage of women representation in politics in Nigeria.
According to her, the decline in the percentage of women participation in active politics was not as a result of lack of trying but some of the factors that continued to impede progress are the structures of the institutions and the systems in which these elections were held adding that there is need to bring up more women in different political parties to become leaders.
“We need to support some of the reforms that are needed within the various parties so as to make elections more conducive for women to compete. There is also the need for a law that would protect the interest of women.
“The percentage of women in the last general elections was 4 percent, which suggested that Nigeria as a country has not done well compared to other African countries.
“Those African countries are looking forwards to a new Nigeria that would have more women in political positions; they are waiting for good leadership from Nigeria.
“It is a known fact that a country with diverse opinion and experience with women involvement does better in decision making and if Nigeria borrows a leaf from this philosophy, it will affect the whole Nigerian population positively.
“Therefore, it is pertinent to bring development to the table. Nigeria’s democracy is stronger and it is growing faster. Going forwards, we need to support our women who are aspiring positions in politics and we need to bring the men who understand that it is not a question of women replacing the men but the need to widen the space to have a better democracy.
“We are now in a situation where the women in politics are reduced from the 22 to 11 at the national assembly. I believe that the women at the national assembly have no choice than to support the agenda of women advancement.
“We also need a strategy that can embrace the men who are very sensitive and supportive of this agenda so we can have quality of people who can push the legislation for women in Nigeria. It is for the women in the political space to take it as priority and also ensure that, men support the agenda”, she said.
She promised that the UN Women will continue to work with Nigerian women on the need for a legislative framework.
“Another important area in our role as conveners is to foster a common vision, agenda for women at the grassroots, politics and private sector to come together to harmonise on how to facilitate the dialogue so that women across all sectors in Nigeria can team up for a robust participation and we will continue to work on that.
“Our immediate focus is to harmonise on how to present the agenda to the in-coming administration and I believe that in few months to come, we would facilitate a longer conversation on this process on strategising towards 2023.
“We are working with the ministry of women’s affairs to review this and UN Women and the African Union have been supporting the frontline of women to establish what is called the African women leadership network. It is a platform regionally for women across Africa to push for key spaces for women so as to achieve a common goal.
“It started in 2017 and we are moving to the national level. We believe that the two networks will help to galvanize women around the common agenda and as tools to support women as we move to 2023”, she explained.
Reacting, Executive Director, WIMBIZ, Hansatu Adegbite, reiterated that, the programme was centred on the need to increase the representation of women in public sector so as to contribute their quota in nation building.
“What we have not achieved is to bring all the women under a roof to have a candid voice. From the political sides, there are experiences that those in the private sector as well as the grassroots and marketplaces do not have. Nobody has been able to bring all of us into a board room to have that Beijing conference in Nigeria and I believe, it is critical.
“We need to influence some stakeholders that can sponsor the people to come out. We have great women in media that can champion the course. We have politicians both past and present that need to come together.
“We need to champion the course. We need to set the timeline and engage women that would spearhead the issue of women.
“I think, we need to identify credible women that can champion the course.
“Nigeria does not have a group of lobbyists with vision and assignment to lobby for the representation of increased women in political positions. We need to come together as one body to fight and win.
“Women need to go to the grassroots. We must increase representation of women in the active political parties so that we can be part of the decision making process.
“In the context of the recently concluded elections, there is need for a meeting that would provide an opportunity for reflections with a cross-section of women leaders in Lagos to review key lessons learned and to strategize on the way forward, building on opportunities for advancing the women’s political leadership agenda, drawing on Nigeria’s international commitments and obligations as expressed through the SDGs and the upcoming Beijing and 25 national review process.
On her part, All Progressives Congress, APC, Women Leader, Lagos Chapter, Jumoke Okoya-Thomas charged women to be more focused and deliberate in decision making so as to achieve the purpose for the meeting.