.Why women are insignificantly represented in Nigeria's political structures —Tallen

— Asks Ondo Assembly to enact the Violence Against Persons Prohibition VAPP bill

Dayo Johnson Akure

The Justice Development and Peace Centre (JDPC) of the Catholic Diocese of Akure, Ondo State, the convener of Stop Violence Against Women in Politics VAWIP, has called for the establishment of a legal funds to assist women politicians to challenge electoral malpractices at all levels of political processes.

Its Programme Officer, Mr. Austin Ogunleye at a Press Conference in Akure, the Ondo state capital said that this was imperatives to encourage women participation in politics and should reflect in the Electoral Act.

Ogunleye submitted that “democracy without women is impossible “

” Right now, Nigeria is facing a range of risks that threaten its stability, from rising environmental crises to deepening inequality and economic pressures. It’s also a time of brilliant possibilities. The hope and momentum for advancing women’s full and equal political participation have never been stronger.

“Simply put, when women lead equally (as men) in the political arena, it makes for stronger decision-making and more representative governance.

“Women in politics work across party lines, even in the most politically combative environments, and champion issues such as parental leave and gender equality laws that strengthen communities now and for generations to come.

“Since the return of democracy in 1999, the Senate has been dominated by males. In 1999 there were only 3 women out of the 109 members representing 2.8 per cent of the members of the Senate. In 2007 the number increased to 8 (7.3 per cent).

“However, there was a decrease from 8 women .members in 2007 to 7 in 2011 which is 6.4 per cent and 8 (7.3 per cent) in 2015. In 2019 it moved to 11(10.1 percent).

” ln 1999, the number of women in the House of representative was 12 out of 360 members which were about 3.3 per cent but increased to 21 (5.8 per cent) in 2003. It was 26 (7.2 per cent) in 2011, in 2015 the number of women in the House of representative decrease to 19 (5.3 per cent) and it further decreases in 2019 to 13 (3.6 percent) out of 360 members.

“The above statistics negate the tenet of democracy. Democracy is about fair representation of all interest groups in the society and the low representation of women is a violation of the principle of democracy. It does not also meet the 35°o affirmation as contained in the Beijing declaration.

“Challenges facing women political participation are as follows but not limited to; patriarchy, stigmatization, low level of education, political meetings schedules, financing, political violence, religious and cultural barriers. These challenges were evident in the Ondo Women Agenda which is a report carried by Justice Development and Peace Centre (JDPC) in 2020.

“As Nigerians mark this year Democracy day, coincidentally the National Assembly is reviewing the 1999 constitution; it is a good time to bring to fore laws that guarantee women political participation in Nigeria. Laws that protect the dignity of women from all forms of violence before, during and after the election.

“It is also important to call on political parties, INEC, government agencies, NGOs and other stakeholders to show genuine commitment in implementing these laws.

Ogunleye noted that other recommendation that should reflect in the amended Electoral Act include that ” political parties should create a support network for prospective aspirant by pairing them with established women politicians who will be playing a key role as mentors and provide capacity building for young or aspiring female politicians to enhance and develop them ahead of subsequent elections.

“Building mass Coalition of women support and advocacy group using NGOs and Grassroots women associations to coordinate support and advocacy for fellow women aspirants.

“To create enabling environment that allows women to engage meaningfully in the decision-making process sustainably and effectively that is free from violence and harassments of any kind.

” introduce quota system at all levels of government and Identifying and engaging relevant stakeholders such as Independent National Electoral Commission and political parties to ensure strict adherence to it.

” A new sub-section (c) 1s being proposed to section 50 of the Constitution. Issue: Gender balance in the leadership of the National Assembly.

“Where legislators from both genders are elected into the Senate and the House of Representatives, the President and Deputy President of the Senate shall not be of the same gender, same shall apply to the office of the Speaker and Deputy Speaker”.

” A new subsection (2) is being proposed to section 92 of the Constitution. This moves the existing section (2) to (3). Issue: Gender balance in the leadership of State Houses of Assembly.

“Where legislators from both genders are elected into the State House of Assembly, the Speaker and Deputy Speaker of the House shall not be of the same gender “There shall be such offices of Ministers of the Government of the Federation as may be established by the President.” )

“A new subsection (7) is proposed to section 147 of the Constitution. (7) The appointment of ministers by the president shall reflect a minimum of 35 percent of women.” Issue: 35 percent quota for women as ministers

He commended the ondo state executive for transmitting the VAPP draft to the legislature and called on the Ondo State House of Assembly to, quickly review and enact the Violence Against Persons Prohibition (VAPP) bill, to provide protection for women and ensure punishment for perpetrators of gender-based violence in the state.

Ogunleye lamented that ” Ondo State is the only state in the South West that is yet to domesticate the VAPP Act; we hereby call on the citizens of Ondo state to engage their representative at the House of Assembly to support the passage of the VAPP bill.

He added that “As we await the passage of the VAPP bill of Ondo State, there is need for security agencies (the Police and NSCDC) to do more in terms of prosecuting cases Gender Based violence. The people of Ondo State need your patriotism in fighting this social menace.

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