IF Nigerian women must take their rightful place in governance through participation in politics, there is need to consciously and constantly groom them for effective leadership and make the people gender sensitive to identify with their political ambitions.
This was one of the resolutions as women politicians, political party leaders, civil society, rights activists and gender equality advocates gathered in Abuja Wednesday under the banner of the Democratic Governance for Development (DGD) of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to seek among others, how to actualise the affirmative action on women’s participation in politics.
By the last head count in Nigeria, women constitute 51 per cent of the country’s population. Leveraging on this at the start of yesterday’s political parties and civil society organisations parley on women inclusiveness in politics, the Minister for Women Affairs, Mrs. Zainab Maina, exhorted the growing army of ready Nigerian women participants in politics.
“Today, we ought to be working hard to ensure that it is not when elections are near that we begin to move for capacity building for women. What is needed is a holistic and long term approach.” According to her, the United Nations (UN) specialised agencies on women advancement have “an important role to play in this. They should support building the capacity of women who are already elected into offices and design a support format for up-coming ones. The women in Nigeria are now ready.”
But the European Union (EU) Desk Representative in Nigeria, Laolu Olawunmi, deepened the debate on strategies available to women, by stressing that Nigerian women of today have to act and ought to stand by one another.
“For women politicians to succeed in office, it is necessary to strengthen their capacity for leadership. It is also necessary that voters support them and political parties are willing to provide platforms that would promote their effective participation. Some political parties have made significant concessions in this regard, but we would like to encourage more political parties to adopt even more gender friendly policies. Believing in women’s experience to bring about wider socio-political change and an end to inequality, in particular, is key,” she said.
The DGD project coordinator for Nigeria, Dr. Mourtada Deme, said democracy would be strengthened in Nigeria when a greater number of women participate in politics.