The Gender and Election Watch (GEW), an initiative of the Nigerian Women Trust Fund (NWTF), has urged women to vote for candidates that will prioritise women’s inclusiveness in policy making.
The CEO of GEW, Mufuliat Fijabi, during a Friday press briefing ahead of Saturday’s general election, said Nigeria is still far behind in terms of women’s inclusion in leadership and decision-making.
Ms Fijabi said since 2011, the number of women who have emerged as elected representatives have been on a decline and may further worsen if no action is taken.
“If you look at the global average practices, we are not where we should be in terms of inclusion of women in leadership and decision-making positions,” she said.
“The number of female candidates in this election is 7.8 per cent which means it’s very few and if we are not careful, the number may decrease.”
She encouraged everyone to vote wisely by choosing candidates who have gender inclusion in mind with the aim to support the country’s democracy.
“Women should not see tomorrow as a public holiday but as a time to also support the growth and development of the country by going to cast their votes,” she said.
Since Nigeria’s return to democracy in 1999, one key trend has been women’s underrepresentation in politics.
Historically, Nigeria’s political system has been dominated by men, even though women constitute a large part of the voting population. Women make up 6.2 million of 12.2 million newly registered voters ahead of the 2023 elections, and almost 50 per cent of the nation’s overall population.
An analysis carried out by PREMIUM TIMES shows that for the 2023 elections, there are only 92 women out of 1,101 senatorial aspirants, representing 8.4 per cent of candidates, while there are 286 women out of 3,107 House of Representatives candidates, totalling 9.2 per cent of candidates.
Across the globe, Nigeria ranks extremely low in gender equality index ratings and this has been attributed by many, to the inherent culture, lack of internal party democracy, and the patriarchal practice across the country.
At the briefing, Saka Azimazi, a member of GEW, said the inclusion of women in leadership positions is important for the development of any country.
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Mr Azimazi said the number of women contesting for political positions is very low compared to the number of men.
He appealed to women to go out in their numbers and vote for leaders who will drive inclusive democratic practice.
GEW is an election observation platform from a gender perspective.
Ms Fijabi said the strategic initiative has been put in place to gather information and carry out analysis on women’s participation in the election as well as the assessment of all critical components of the electoral processes for action and advisory towards more vibrant democratic governance in Nigeria.
“To this end, NWTF GEW has deployed 400 accredited observers across the six geopolitical zones of Nigeria and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) for the Presidential and National Assembly elections scheduled for tomorrow 25 February 2023, and the Governorship and State Assembly elections scheduled for 11 March 2023, to observe and assess how all elements of the election process impact all stakeholders from a gender perspective,” she said.
She said NWTF through its use of an electronic gender-based checklist will watch and harvest critical data on the participation of women and other vulnerable groups in this election.
She noted that the organisation will also carry out its analysis based on the Electoral Act.
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