Poor female representation in Nigeria’s 2023 elections unacceptable, appalling – UN

***As INEC urges parties to respect own constitution

The United Nations (UN), has decried the low number of female candidates contesting in the 2023 general elections in Nigeria, describing the development as unacceptable and appalling.

This is as the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), urged political parties to respect their constitutions to ensure internal democracy in the political parties and promote good governance.

The UN Women Programme Specialist, Generation equality, Desmond Osemehenjie, made the observation on Tuesday at a workshop on the promotion of women in politics organised by the Centre for Democracy Development (CDD).

Osemehenjie observed that Nigeria scored low in the area of women’s participation in politics compared to other African countries.

He said: “The women’s participation in politics in Nigeria is very appalling and very unsatisfactory, and very, very unacceptable.

“Because if you look at the African sub-region, Nigeria is one of the lowest countries as far as representation on the parliament is concerned.

“Nigeria is just 4.1 per cent in the parliament as we speak to the national parliament, while in other countries like Rwanda is 67 percent, Senegal is sending about 57 per cent. These are all countries with a very high-level representation of women in parliament, but for Nigeria, it is something that is very unacceptable,” he emphasised

He listed factors that are responsible for the low women participation to include, a patriarchal system in Africa, adding that “we’ve got societal beliefs, and religion have taken over and the men of course are dominant in the society.

“Political education of our women and monetisation of politics, huge resources, money in Nigeria, political activities are monetised it is an investment for politicians, so women may don’t have such money to invest in politics.

“In politics; Women don’t want to associate themselves with violence. They don’t want to associate themselves with things that will bring down society.’

In addition, he said, “women are sometimes not well represented in the political agenda.”

Speaking on the way forward he said, “We support the media, we also support the political parties, building the capacity of women, and ensuring that women are able to compete effectively.

“We have also in one way or the other, provided a kind of both internal and external training to women, where they go outside to learn from other nations where they have been able to advance.

“We are training the young women known as a Young Women Academy, where if in future we want the young women that are interested in governance, to be able to jump into political parties and be able to change the narrative.

“We have met with the traditional rulers, we have met with the religious leaders, we have met with a media organisation, try to sensitise and mobilise all stakeholders and telling them the importance and benefits of women to be part of governance.” He added

The Acting Director of Gender and Inclusivity, INEC, Dorathy Bello, said political parties should ensure they keep to the rules in their constitutions which they made by themselves.

Speaking through the Director of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), INEC, Ndidi Okafor, Bello urged parties to ensure they implement their own constitution or manifestos, adding that the commission is also doing a lot in terms of advocacy, reminding them to keep to the rules they gave to themselves.

The commission is regularly meeting with political parties, pressing it on their leadership to ensure internal party democracy to ensure the inclusion of women.

“So the commission is constantly reminding them of the importance is also not just about the commission to people the media, and civil society organizations jointly, we can all keep up and step up this advocacy so that our country will be better.

On the issue of providing a level playing field for all stakeholders, she said, “The commission is an umpire and we are ensuring all Nigerians that there will be a level playing field for all.

Speaking, Senior Fellow, CDD West Africa, Prof. Jibrin Ibrahim, described the condition of women in Nigeria as bad because women are not involved in decision-making that directly affects their lives.

“This is totally unacceptable and we must make sure that as men we make sure as men we take pride as agents of change and we must promote gender equality and speak up against women’s marginalisation, invest out time and resources on women who’s rights have been violated.”

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