October 19, 2022

2023: Women group alleges marginalization of women in political space

File: Women

Demands support for women in elective positions

By Joseph Erunke

ABUJA-AHEAD of 2023 general elections,a group of women under the aegis of The League of Women Voters of Nigeria,NILOWV, has alleged marginalization of women in the nation’s political space by their male counterparts.

The group which recalled that following the recent statistics released by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC,women constituted over 40 percent of the about 84 million eligible voters’ population the country,demanded an immediate end to the trend.

President of NiLOWV, Dr. Mrs. Esther Uduehi  and the group’s National Secretary,Chief Barr.

(Mrs) Veronica Ngozi Osuhor, addressing a press conference in Abuja, Wednesday, demanded that women are given all the support they need to participate and win elections. 

The group’s prepared text read to newsmen by Mrs Uduehi,said:”As Nigeria prepares for the 2023 General Elections, we are aware that in line with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) timetable, campaigns have started in full gear, and the atmosphere is charged. 

“It is no news that Nigeria’s political space has been male-dominated despite the fact that women constitute a large chunk of the voting population. 

“As of the last official release by INEC, women constituted over 40% of the about 84 million voters on the register. However, women remained severely under-represented in key fields, especially in politics and this has manifested in the form of institutionalized discrimination, disenfranchisement, and outright marginalization within the Nigerian polity.

“The League of Women Voters of Nigeria (NiLOWV) frowns at the marginalization of women in the political space, therefore, imploring political parties to deliberately create space for women in their parties as well as on the political parties’ campaign councils.”

According to the group,” We strongly condemn the present practice of the “handout system” employed by almost all the political parties and political office holders, and so, we demand that women are given all the support they need to participate and win elections. “

“We equally demand affirmative action; that is how we define “gender equity”.  

The league calls on political parties, political office holders, and candidates for the 2023 General Elections to include women as agents of change to actualize the 35 percent affirmative action in critical roles in the campaigns, in policy document preparation, strategy sessions, and other critical aspects of the electoral process.  We demand a fair space for our women.

“As the campaign progresses, we expect a violence-free campaign devoid of hate speech and call on the actors to respect the letters of the Peace Accord signed a few weeks ago. 

NILWOV while expecting that the campaigns will be issued-based look forward to candidates addressing the following issues,”it added.

She said,”Political parties and candidates should include in their campaigns a clear path to inclusive governance and women’s involvement in their government if elected. At least 35 percent of women involvement in key sectors, elected or appointed. Gender equality remains a major issue despite its relevance. Closing the gender gap is a center part of any strategy to create sustainable and inclusive economies and societies. “

“Clear commitment to revisit and pass into law the gender Responsive Bills which has suffered several setbacks at the National Assembly. Effectively gender equality bill should be passed,”she added.

Speaking on empowerment,the group said,”The development of women in terms of politics, social and economic strength can also be seen as the development of the nation.”

” There should be well thought out programs to empower women to play their role in the overall development of our dear country. More effort in women education, employment,”she further said.

On insecurity,she said,”NiLOWV expects that the issue of insecurity is tackled by the candidates. The worst hit of insecurity are the women, children, the aged, and people faced with disabilities. A clear roadmap on how to tackle insecurity sustainably is expected.   Having signed the peace accord, the political parties and candidates should ensure that they abide by this commitment to have a peaceful campaign and election.”

Speaking on human rights in the country,she said:”Clear objectives on implementing both national and international human rights policies to combat issues around education, health, vocational/economic, and political disadvantages for women is of utmost concern. “

“The League has a mission to educate Nigerian women to enable them play a larger role in governance, and public affairs to defend and perfect Nigeria’s democracy through her three-point programme of advocacy, education and sensitization.

We mobilized women to register during the just concluded Continuous Voters Registration (CVR) across the country. NiLOWV is strong in civic education which include voter education,”she said.

The group,Mrs Uduehi said,”Call on INEC to resist pressure from politicians who are opposed to the deployment of the Bimodal Voters Accredidtation System (BVAS) for the 2023 elections.”

“This upcoming 2023 General Elections will not be business as usual, NILOWV is already tracking the campaign promises of parties especially as it relates to women’s inclusion and will hold any successful candidate of the elections accountable for the promises made. 

We therefore call on the women and Nigerians to ensure that they collect their Permanent Voters Card (PVC), vote, and contribute towards a free, fair, peaceful, and credible election by not selling their votes.

Our voices are equal at the ballot box so we must use our votes to our best advantage. The league is poised to ensure this,”she added.