The House of Representatives Committee on Women in Parliament, on Monday, expressed concern over the low participation of women in governance and politics with a promise to reverse the trend.
The female parliamentarians said despite the advocacy and attempt by women organisations to increase women’s participation in politics, not much progress seemed to have been made.
According to them, out of 1,101 candidates contesting for 109 seats at the House of Representatives, only 92 women would be contesting in the 2023 elections.
The Chairperson of the Committee, Taiwo Oluga (Ayedoade/Irewole/Isokan federal constituency Osun State), raised the concern during a press conference with the theme, ‘Women’s political participation and inclusion and 2023 general election’, organised in conjunction with the European Union Support to Democratic Governance in Nigeria and some human rights organisations, including the Nigerian Women Trust Fund.
She also demanded the appointment of a woman as the Minister of Defence in Nigeria.
“For the first time in history, let a woman be appointed as Minister of Defence, and you will see the action; you will see a positive change in our security architecture,” Oluga said.
She said reversing the trend of low participation of women in governance and politics was necessary to boost the country’s chances of attaining the 35 per cent affirmative action in elective and appointive offices.
Oluga identified patriarchy, stigmatisation, illiteracy, odd meeting schedules, financing and lack of economic empowerment, cultural and religious barriers, and political violence as some of the challenges to women’s participation in politics in the country.
She, however, said that the lawmakers would forthwith step up activities on the need to check the factors that discourage women political participation in Nigeria.
The legislator said that the intervention would be backed by collaborative efforts among the legislators, development partners, civil society groups, religious and traditional institutions to remove the factors behind women’s low participation in governance.
She said, “Despite the advocacy and attempt by women groups and parliamentarians to have increased women participation in politics in Nigeria, not much progress seems to have been made.
“Going by the number of women, who are currently nominated by various political parties and are vying for elective offices in the forthcoming 2023 general election, there are serious issues of concern as it seems that the figure in the current (National) Assembly might worsen if drastic steps are not taken Immediately.
“Before the last primary elections, Nigeria ranked amongst the lowest number of women participation in governance in Africa, with about 6.2 per cent of national parliamentarians being women.
“For the 2023 Senate elections, out of the 1,101 candidates contesting 109 seats, only 92 are women. Amongst the nominated candidates across all political parties for the House of Representatives elections next year, 288 women are contesting out of 3,122 aspirants, depicting that the number of women participation in politics or contesting elective offices is on a steady decline since 2015.”
She also lamented that Kano, Sokoto, Taraba, Yobe, and Zamfara States do not have a single female candidate nominated for federal elections next year.
Oluga said, “The implication of this is that, even before next year’s elections in the country, it is crystal clear that 13.5 per cent of States will not have any female member in the National Assembly.
“The above development is a huge setback in attaining 35 per cent affirmative action in elective and appointive offices in Nigeria.
“The committee shall forthwith step up its activities on the need to discourage religious beliefs, cultural practices amongst other things that discourage women political participation in Nigeria.
“Also, efforts shall be directed to accelerate advocacy and funding of women economic and political causes.
“We encourage women electorates to vote for women enmasse in the forthcoming elections because women are more humane and feel the pulse of their children the most. Women and children being the worst hit by terrorism, insecurity and poverty, are in a better position to proffering enduring solutions to the societal scourges.”