A non-partisan group focused on encouraging women in politics, ElectHER has engaged the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) to ensure that more women are involved in the electoral process ahead of the February 2023 general elections.
This was the thrust at a one-day workshop targeted at mainstreaming women’s representation and participation in the 2023 general elections held in Ikeja, Lagos in partnership with INEC and with support from European Union, participants were drawn from across the country to deliberate in line with INEC’s revised Gender Policy (IGP).
According to the founder, ElectHer, Ibijoke Faborode, women are significant to electioneering in Nigeria and preserving our democracy. “Women account for 39.6 million out of 84 million voters registered in 2019 and 44.4 million (47.5 per cent) out of 93.5 million in 2023 according to INEC.
In spite of women’s increasing political participation, they account for an abysmally low 68 (4.43 per cent) out of 1543 representation in politics nationally, according to YIAGA (2020); despite constituting 105.6 million (49.5 per cent) of Nigeria’s population. This means that the interest of nearly half of the population is not represented in Nigeria’s decision-making.
“CSOs and the electoral body have a huge role to play being custodians of democracy. We must avoid a repeat of 2019, by ensuring that at least 90 per cent of female candidates transit to elective positions by mainstreaming them to the electorates and giving them human and technical support.”
In his opening remarks, National Commissioner in charge of Outreach and Partnership, Prof. Kunle Ajayi said that to achieve inclusivity in the electoral process, voter education, campaigns for peaceful elections, grassroot mobilisation, advocacy against electoral malpractice, such as vote buying is in full gear, yet a lot still needs to be done. He however urged the various stakeholders to sustain the momentum until the Election Day and ensure that people come out emass to exercise their franchise.
While Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), INEC, Lagos, Mr. Olusegun Agbaje said women need to do more in political participation, to ensure the accomplishment of our common goal – free, fair, inclusive, credible and acceptable general elections.
“INEC has consequently put in place certain mechanisms and policies that ensure active and unrestricted participation of women in the elections. The INEC Gender Policy is a framework for inclusive participation of women in Politics and elections. And, one of its objectives is to enable the commission tackle the issues of gender in politics, so that Nigerian women who constitute about half of the population of Nigeria, are sensitised adequately for a robust political participation.”
In a paper presented by INEC commissioner, Prof. Rhoda Gumus, she highlighted the various challenges women face in politics in Nigeria, which include, Patriarchy, stigmatisation, low level of education, meeting schedules, financing and political violence. She also noted that the commission has revised its Gender policy to ensure inclusivity as well as full participation and representation in the 2023 general elections.
Gumus however recommended that political parties should create a support framework for mentorship for prospective aspirants with established women politicians, “build massive coalition of women support and advocacy group, create enabling environment free from violence, reinforce quota system at all levels of governance and encourage women’s involvement at rural levels.”