Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) says Nigeria currently ranks 181 out of 193 countries polled in terms women’s participation in politics.
Dr Joy Onyesoh, Country Director, WILPF Nigeria, said this on Thursday in Abuja.
Onyesoh was speaking during the National Conference on Women’s Participation in Nigeria: Post 2019 General Elections, in a presentation on “Incidences of Violence against Women during the 2019 Elections.
She said Nigeria’s low ranking in women’s political participation was as a result of myriad of challenges such as violence, intimidation, sexual assault and lack of internal party democracy that women faced.
“Discrimination against women linked to social, legal, cultural and economic factors, violent nature of politics in Nigeria among others, are hindrances to women’s participation in politics.
“There are trails of violence against women in the 2019 elections right from the party primaries to campaigns; it is so bad that some women were raped during the elections.
“We need a sector-wide electoral violence prevention (EVP) strategy to curb this menace,” she said.
Onyesoh said that women in particular should play key roles in EVP activities, including the development of early warning and response systems, given their particular vulnerability to gender-based violence.
This, she said would go a long way in curbing violence against them, especially during elections.
Ms Comfort Lamptey, UN Women representative in Nigeria and ECOWAS, said 23 years after the establishment of 30 per cent quota for women’s political representation, the average was still low.
Lamptey said that the average still stood at only 15 per cent in elected assemblies and 17 per cent in governments in Africa, compared to the global average of 23 per cent in parliaments and five per cent for heads of government.
She said after the 2019 election in Nigeria, only 4.5 per cent women were elected into office, a decline from the 2015 elections, where elected women constituted 5.6 per cent.
She said there were significant structural barriers to women participation in politics and leadership that needed to be addressed, especially within political parties who resisted inclusion of women.
According to her, other barriers are; an electoral system that makes it tougher for women to compete on equal footing, women’s limited access to funds, harmful gender-based stereotypes in media, etc.
She said Nigeria should build the political will to achieve gender balance in political and public circles by eliminating discriminatory laws including in family, property, labour etc.
Lamptey advocated for zero tolerance for violence against women in politics and public life, and a firm commitment to gender equality and women’s rights, as enshrined in parity laws and legal reforms.
Earlier, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, Chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) said the commission was committed to an all-inclusive government with particular attention to marginalised women.
Yakubu who was represented by Prof. Anthonia Simbine, National Commissioner, INEC, reiterated commitment of the commission in championing electoral reforms that would enhance women’s participation in politics.