By Marie-Therese Nanlong

Jos – Discrimination by men, lack of finance, poor leadership skills, lack of cooperation amongst women as well as cultural, religious, and economic barriers have been identified as factors fueling the dwindling involvement of women in politics as well as limiting their impacts in the governance process.

To reverse the trend in Plateau State, the Dinidari Foundation under its Women Political Empowerment Project supported by the UN Women and the Norwegian Embassy organized a day validation meeting for women in the different political parties to get them to discuss the issues which hinder them from making tangible impacts in politics.

Explaining the essence of the meeting, Zigwai Tagwai, the Project Lead, Women Political Empowerment Project said, “The Dinidari Foundation is focused on women empowerment, women support in different areas, economically, financially, politically as well as social issues like gender-based violence.

“For this project, we have seen the gaps in the participation of women in politics and activities of political parties in terms of appointments into political positions and active governance processes in Nigeria. This project enables us to assess the capacity need of these women in their political parties as well as the structure of these political parties. We realized the gaps that need to be filled, these will be done through capacity building and technical support.

“This validation meeting is carried out as the result of the survey that we did using key informants, interviews, and questionnaires, asking women leaders and women in politics and other stakeholders their opinion on certain issues that concern women’s participation in politics from resource mobilization to partnership and collaboration to advocacy, lobbying and others that affect the participation of women in politics.”

She added, “The result we intend to get is a review of the report that reflect the opinion and their needs that we can publish so that their political parties can run with it, implement better women-inclusive policies and build a better structure that can support women. Stakeholders can get this report and use it as a working document to support women’s participation in politics.

“We intend to carry out a capacity development training, build the modules and guidelines that would give technical support to women to build a crop of women that would be very active in political parties and the governance process in the country.”

Earlier, Joel Timothy who gave preliminary findings on capacity assessment of women’s wings of political parties disclosed that the objectives of the assessment were to “assess gender inclusivity in the policies, strategies and implementation plans of the identified political parties at all levels. Identify the barriers to women participation in the identified political parties in the last 4 years and document the capacity needs of women in political parties in becoming political leaders in their parties…”

He stressed, “In Nigeria, as of 2019, there has been a decline in women’s participation in politics women constituted 3.1 % of Members of the House of Representatives and 6.5 % of the Senators depicting a steady decline from the 2011 and 2015 data for the House of Representatives (at 6.8 and 5.6% respectively for both years) and a static progress in the Senate (at 6.4% and 6.5% for the respective years) representing the lowest figures for sub-Saharan Africa and globally.

“No woman has served as Governor in Nigeria with the number serving in ministerial appointments and as appointed executives demonstrating a low trend with women constituting approximately 16% of ministerial appointments and in State legislatures 4.43% of representatives.

“In Plateau State, the barriers identified by women in politics in the State in the order of reducing frequency were; discrimination by men, lack of finance, poor leadership skills, lack of cooperation amongst women, cultural religious and economic barriers. For the Women Leaders in the State, the main barriers identified were; funding, lack of cooperation, resistance from men…”

Some participants including Fatima Suleiman called for the more political appointment of women to the level of 35% to 40% and asked that women should seek political offices apart from being women leaders, they should volunteer, know their parties’ constitutions, build capacity to lobby, mentor younger women to get involved and partner with relevant stakeholders to make impacts.

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