The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on Wednesday called for a review of gender policy and total inclusion of women in the planning and implementation of electoral processes.
Mrs Blessing Obidegwu, Deputy Director, Gender Division, INEC, made this known at a Seminar on the “Review of INEC Gender Policy by External Stakeholders,’’ held in Lagos.
She said that in many countries all over the world, women continued to be marginalised and underrepresented in the political and electoral processes.
Obidegwu noted that clearly major steps needed to be taken before true gender equality was achieved.
“It is, therefore, important that Election Management Bodies (EMBs) intentionally and proactively take gender into account in the analysis and implementation of all electoral processes.
“As we all know, Nigeria is signatory to several regional, international protocols and conventions on the protection of the rights of women, including guarantees of equality of access, particularly in the area of politics.
“In spite of Nigeria being a signatory to all these instruments, Nigerian women still remain largely marginalised in all spheres of activities including governance, ‘’ she said.
Obidegwu said that one of the objectives of INEC Gender Policy was to ensure that the commission’s policies, plans and operations were gender-responsive.
She said the gender policy was also to encourage gender equity and balance within political parties, especially in the identification of candidates in line with the provision of their statutes.
Also speaking, the Resident Electoral Commissioner of INEC, Lagos State, Mr Sam Olumekun, said the need to address gender issues in the context of democratic governance and pursuit of gender equality had been on the front burner of the commission.
Olumekun said that the establishment of Gender division at INEC national headquarters and Gender desks in all states showed that the commission was striving to ensure the visibility of women in electoral process.
“It is common knowledge that inclusion of every eligible citizen, irrespective of gender in the electoral process is an important way forward to deepen Nigerian’s democratic experience,” he said.
The National Commissioner of INEC, Dr Adekunle Ogunmola, also stressed the need for equal participation of women and men in all aspects of public life, being a key principle of democracy.
He added that the place of gender equality in democracy could not be overemphasised.
“The commission developed its gender Policy division to foster gender balance in the commission and also to stimulate stakeholders in the electoral process to do same.
“Reviewing the policy will develop the collective capacity of INEC to examine its activities from gender perspective and identify its strengths and weaknesses in promoting gender equality issues, ‘’ Ogunmola said.