A consultative meeting of Nigerian women and political parties has demanded a legislation and amendment of the nation’s Constitution to include affirmative action towards formally allotting 40 percent of elective political positions to women ahead of the 2023 general elections.
It also asked the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to deregister political parties that fail to implement their own constitutional provisions for greater women participation and slots for elective positions and appointments.
The meeting which held in Abuja during the week was organised by the Nigerian Feminist Forum (NFF), supported by the Ford Foundation, with representatives of some political parties present.
The organisers however, lamented that the major political parties in the country shunned their invitation to the event, as the All Progressives Congress (APC), Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), were conspicuously absent.
In attendance were the Young Progressives Party (YPP), African Democratic Congress (ADC),Labour Party (LP). People’s Redemption Party (PRP), Action Alliance (AA), Alliance People’s Movement (APM), as well asConference of Nigerian Political Parties (CNPP) and Inter-Party Advisory Council of Nigeria (IPAC).
The Federal Ministry of Women Affairs was also absent, noted the National Coordinator of NFF, Blessing Duru, who declared that the meeting was part of efforts “to gradually increase participation and capacity for women, and by extension, begin a mentoring process for young women who will reflect it in improved families and nation as a whole.
“The NFF’s overall objective is to improve female representation in all spheres of life, encourage equal participation opportunity in political spaces as well as in decision making positions and to find out possible ways to mitigate challenges, X-raying the electoral constitution guiding active political parties, and advocating for change in the laws to accommodate women, whilst still adhering to constitutional principles.”
Two of the political parties present at the consultative meeting, YPP and ADC, acknowledged having in their respective constitutions 35 percent of positions allotted to women.
They therefore, advocated that sensitisation to get more women interested in politics be intensified and extended to secondary schools and tertiary educational institutions, so as to “capture them young”.
A communique issued at the end of the meeting noted that virtually all political parties have reserved or allotted offices to women, but the parties frustrate women from taking advantage of these positions.
While the system is skewed against women participation in politics, women are also still not doing enough to get involved, which gives rise to the call for more awareness and sensitization among women.
The participants therefore, called for the following:”That the nation must adopt affirmative action by reserving a certain percentage of elective offices for women in both national and state elections.
“That all parties should assign 40 percent slots across board to only women, and that cover all the positions from President, Governors, Senate and House of Representatives, State Assembly, Local Government Chairman, Vice-Chairman, and Councillors.
“That it is not enough to adopt policies to promote women participation but to back the policies up with legislation. A law that mandates gender inclusion targets across all tiers of Government and all spheres of political representation should be developed and passed.
“That women should rise up to demand for change by participating in the ongoing amendment of the constitution and the Electoral Act.
“That more women should come out and vote during elections.
“That INEC should deregister political parties that fail to implement provisions of women participation.
“That an electoral offence(s) commission should be created and empowered to prosecute perpetrators of electoral violence specifically against women, people who misappropriate funds and use the institutions of state to manipulate processes for their personal interests.
“That the nation’s Constitution should be amended to accommodate affirmative action.”