This Day (Lagos)

Nigeria: UNDP - Women Representation Still Poor in Nigeria's Democracy

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has said women participation in the three arms of government in the country is still very inadequate.

The UN agency said the reason for the low representation of some in government could be linked to various factors such as money politics, patriarchy, indigeneship issues, lack of access to education and other socio-economic opportunities.

According to a fact sheet drawn-up by UNDP's Democratic Governance for Development (DGD) project and its coalition partners as part of its nationwide sensitisation campaign for constitutional amendment in support of of increase female representation, the Senate and House of Representatives have 6.4 per cent and 6.7 per cent female representation respectively.

The statistics showed that none of the 36 states executive councils meet the minimum 35 per cent gender representation recommended under the National Gender Policy.

However, it said women got a boost in the composition of the current Federal Executive Council (FEC) as 14 women were appointed ministers out of 42 (33.3 per cent). In the same vein, there are 11 female Permanent Secretaries out of 43 (26 per cent) and five female Special Advisers out of 13 (38 per cent).

UNDP said another important milestone recorded by women under the present administration was the appointment of female ministers to manage key ministries which hitherto were occupied by men.

In the memorandum submitted by the Nigerian women under the auspices of Gender and Constitution Review Network (GECORN), they are seeking remedy against discrimination on account of place of origin or that of their husband.

They sought for a provision to give powers to the National Assembly to enact laws that will ensure the implementation of policies and Programmes aimed at redressing social, economic or educational imbalance in the Nigerian society.

The memorandum also want socio-economic and political rights of citizens to be made justificiable just as it pushes for the inclusion of affirmative action policy in the constitution.

One of the resource persons working with the DGD project and a political science professor, from Loyola University in Chicago, United States, Richard Matland said women occupied an important part of the American democratic evolution, as could be seen the way women voters helped President Barack Obama to win the just concluded presidential poll.

He advised Nigerian women to always forge a united front on issues that are of benefit to them and to push such issues during electoral campaigns.

"From the US Exit Polls carried out during the last Presidential poll, we saw that more men voted for Republican candidate, Romney by a small margin while majority of women cast their votes for Obama. The women folks are very happy with the result but they are also bold to remind the President that they made it possible for him to win," he said.

He said Obama got the American women to his side because of his popular healthcare and education policy which most women saw as beneficial to them.

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