WimBiz calls for improved participation of women in politics
Women in Management, Business, and Public Service (WIMBIZ) recently held its yearly Women in Politics (WIMPol) webinar themed The Nigerian Constitution and Elections: A Right To Win’’, with over 300 participants in attendance.
WIMPol aims at increasing the representation of women in public office through influence and advocacy, with the objective of growing female representation from four percent to 30 per cent, in line with the 1995 Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action.
WimBiz is a non-profit organisation that has over the last 18 years, implemented programmes that inspire, empower, and advocate for more representation of women in leadership positions both in the public and private sector.
The session, which was hosted virtually, explored conversations around mitigating the paucity of women in the Nigerian political sphere, the current provisions of the Nigerian constitution on gender diversity in politics, the electoral act and the urgent need for increased representation of women in elective and appointive positions of power. They posited that the constitution has entrenched laws and guidelines on women participation in politics but implementing these laws and guidelines have been met with persistent resistance over the years.
After much deliberation, the session listed the following as factors responsible for stifling the participation of women in the Nigerian political sphere: the perception created by an unspoken bias against women; that politics is better suited to men; certain cultural practices and norms that unintentionally create prejudices against women leadership which creates the reality of the electoral value chain being inclined towards men, electoral violence; funding and unfavorable institutional structures that stifle participation and chances of women winning elections in Nigeria; specific constitutional amendments, which need to be implemented to ensure political equality between men and women.
Others factors are enforcing specific constitutional laws on women participation within political parties that already exist but have not been enforced; creating rewards and penalties for compliance or non-compliance with the documented inclusion targets by political parties, which is critical to achieving the objective of getting more women into the political sphere and intentionally introducing gender inclusion targets across all tiers of government in order to progress the goal of increased female participation in politics.
Also, participants agreed that education, exposure and a firm understanding of fundamental human rights are tools of advocacy that can dismantle the stereotypes that promotes gender inequality.
Speaking on affirmative actions to increase women participation in the political sphere, the body revealed that the country’s constitution currently has no reference to quota or gender parity, unlike the Kenyan constitutions where it specifically states in Article 27 (8) that, “No more than two-thirds of the members of elective or appointive bodies are of the same gender.”
Additionally, Article 81 of the Kenyan constitution further reiterates that the same rule should be applied to public institutions.
“This shows a deliberate attempt by the law of the country to close the gender gap and historical exclusion of women from leadership in politics,” the group noted.
In order to mitigate the paucity of women in politics in Nigeria and reflect intentionality, the conference recommended that laws that mandate gender inclusion targets across all tiers of government and all spheres of political representation must be developed and passed; seats should be reserved for women in the senate and house of representatives; a review of the current presidential system of government and a parliamentary system of governance considered for adoption; education and a basic understanding of fundamental human rights must be prioritised for women in underserved communities, while an electoral offence(s) commission should be created and empowered to bring perpetrators of electoral violence specifically against women, people who misappropriate funds and use the institution of state to manipulate processes to fuel their personal interests.
The webinar was chaired by Kemi Ogunyemi, CEO, Alfo Healthcare Initiative and moderated by Nnena Ukeje, Member, House of Representatives (2007-2019); with panelists, Binta M. Garba, Senator, Adamawa North Senatorial District (2015-2019); Ahmed Raji SAN, Founder/Principal, Ahmed Raji & Co.; Ayo Atsenuwa, Dean and Professor of Law, University of Lagos and Clement Nwankwo, Executive Director, Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre.