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Stakeholders seek protection of women during elections

By Sodiq Omolaoye, Abuja
19 February 2023   |   3:47 am
With less than a week to the general elections, governments all levels have been urged to scale up efforts at protecting women in politics and governance.

Nigerian voters display their PVCs prior to voting at an election. Nigerians will return to the polls in February 2023. Photo: AFP

With less than a week to the general elections, governments all levels have been urged to scale up efforts at protecting women in politics and governance.

Speaking, yesterday, in Abuja, during a  national dialogue organised by Women in Politics Forum (WIPF) to develop strategies and tactics for preventing violence against women in the 2023 elections, the Minister of Women Affairs and Social Development, Dame Pauline Tallen, said women had contributed tremendously to the growth and development of the country and should be given significant opportunities in leadership positions.

Tallen, who bemoaned incessant violence against women in politics, said the Federal Government would continue to engage in the campaigns against gender-based violence during elections, which could negatively influence the outcome of the polls.

The minister said: “We will not dampen our spirit because we have qualified women in all the political parties. We will keep pushing. Those who will supervise the elections must stand firm and protect the few women contesting because they are vulnerable. ..”

“The few women we have in the national and state assemblies have good records of performance. We owe it a responsibility to ensure that women are protected. Women must be strong and be fully armed. The struggle continues. Those that have registered to monitor the elections should protect them. We can’t fold our arms and allow these women to be pushed out. The few that we have in politics must be protected.

“The President wants a credible, free and fair election and those of you managing it should ensure “if you see something, you say something.”

The Country Director, ActionAid Nigeria, Ene Obi, called for tougher punitive measures against perpetrators of violence against women in politics, saying all women must begin to collectively rise against acts of violence targeted at other women.

“I have hope in this country. This is the greatest country in the world. Women must be protected in this country. There is a changing trend now because if you touch a woman now, you’ve touched every woman. We have women journalists and women lawyers. When your sister is wounded, you are wounded. A woman has no tribe. Our tribe is humanity. If you don’t protect a woman close to you, you too are not protected,” Obi said.

Meanwhile, WIPF President, Ebere Ifendu , explained the dialogue was organised to draw up an action plan towards curbing violence against women in the 2023 elections, noting that violence against women in politics is highly underreported and seems not to receive as much attention as other areas of gender-based violence.

In his presentation on election security, the Convener of Partners for Electoral Reforms, Ezenwa Nwagwu, surmised: “If the election fails, it is because the law enforcement agencies did not do their job.”