…Tasks Media, CSOs on sustained advocacy

By Victoria Ojeme, and Ezra Ukanwa

ABUJA—AS political activities ahead of the 2023 general elections gather momentum, the African Press Club, TAPC, Tuesday, called on the National House of Assembly, NASS, and other concerned stakeholders to revisit the pro-equality gender bill seeking 35 per cent of women inclusion in politics.

The founder of TAPC, Chichi Adama, made this call at an event in Abuja, arranged to press forward the demands of women’s participation in governance and decision making in Nigeria.

She said in an instance where the women are only 19 of the 469 legislators in Nigeria, the men would continue to get all the available benefits of governance.

She harped on the importance of the 35per cent gender parity, stating that TAPC would continue to support the advancement of women rights and participation across Nigeria.

While bemoaning the poor statistics of women representation in the political space, Adama, said the legislators can only be fire-lighted to carry-out action on the 35per cent affirmative action, should the media and civil societies organisations, CSOs, intensify its advocacies.

She said: “Nigeria is going into elections in less than a year (March 2023). The African Press Club (TAPC) believes that this therefore, is a great time to mount pressure on politicians who usually count on women votes to win political seats. If the rejection of the bills is successfully upturned, this will send a message that women will no longer accept patriarchal systems that oppress them

“Participation in politics and decision making at all levels in Nigeria is a men affair. The national average of women’s political participation has remained 6.7 percent in elective and appointive positions for the longest time.

“In the context of this intervention those that have power and will benefit by maintaining the status as it is are men including the 102 male senators (only 7 women are in the senate), 338 male members of the House of Representatives (only 22 women are in the House of Representatives). This status quo will also benefit myriads of male political position seekers that dominate political parties in the country.

“The legislators at the National Assembly have the power to make change. There are only 19 women out of 469 legislators. So men have the power. Advocacy that will continue to mount pressure on legislators to reconsider the bill is required. Sustained pressure is necessary in a time like this. That’s why we’re using this forum as part of media advocacy to discuss the importance of these bills, and why it’s necessary that they be passed.

“TAPC will support the advancement of women human rights and political participation by contributing to feminist leadership across Nigeria, Passing legislation that allows more women to participate in politics, will ultimately contribute to figures of gender parity across the country as Nigeria still struggles to reach 35% affirmative Action on gender parity in almost all aspects of governance.

“More women in decision-making positions mean that Nigeria will be contributing to the advancement of the global ambitious goal of advancing gender equality by 2026 through the Generation Equality Forum processes.

“The media, civil society and the like in Nigeria have the opportunity during this election season to implement a sustained media campaign that will draw attention of policy makers and other arms of government and pressure them to reconsider the gender bills ahead of the forthcoming elections.”

On his part, Senior Editor, Channel Network Afrique, CNA, Mr Chux Ukwuatu, said one of the major banes of women’s participation in politics is money, seeing the heavy financial demands warranted by the country’s political space.

He, however, beseeched political parties to, as a matter of urgency, provide a level playing ground to enhance women participation in politics.

“A major factor against women participation is “money bag” politics. Political campaigns in Nigeria involve huge spending and this discourages many women from participating in the process. Nomination forms alone are beyond the reach of many women who would want to participate in the process.

“Political parties should always provide a level playing ground to enhance women participation in politics. There should be more opportunities to raise awareness of gender equality among members of the media, including through special workshops and toolkits, so they can begin to practice gender-sensitive reporting.

“Women should also endeavour to work in the media, including in leadership positions”, he said.

Similarly, the president of National Association of Women Journalists, Ladi Bala, said democracy in Nigeria is not fully practiced as women are excluded in government and other leadership positions.

She said women are not in short supply to drive the needed change in society, stating that the media should begin campaigns that would place women in a good light for political positions.

Also, Director of Programmes, Women of Dignity and Girls of Honour Empowerment Initiative, Mr. Adekunle Taiwo, said the media and CSOs must synergise to campaign vehemently to change the inferiority orientation of women.

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