The International Press Centre (IPC) has urged women across the country to participate meaningfully in politics and stand the chance to contest for top positions in government offices during election campaigns, in order to ensure a better and progressive nation.
This call was made at a workshop on women participation in politics titled 'Advancing Women in Governance and Political Participation', to educate more women on politics and knowing their rights on where they can vote and be voted for into power, which was recently held in Lagos.
Lawyer, politician and gender advocate, Mrs. Jumoke Anifowoshe, who spoke on overview of the issues and prospects for strategic positioning and networking, said government parastatals, individuals and the people at large should stop gender discrimination in their mindset and work towards building up the women, bringing both men and women together to promote progress and unity in the country.
She further enjoined that women should participate and attend seminars and workshops to know more about politics and be able to contest for positions during elections, stressing that, although women suffer lots of challenges such as sexual harassment from their male counterparts in politics when looking for position which discourage them and family issues, they should not relent because women also need to be at the top.
She said Nigeria's political leaderships are full of men and the situation works against women interest where male politicians are not comfortable with strong-willed women who they cannot control, adding that she had earlier contested three times for elective top positions but did not get there.
She advised the government to implement international treaties on Affirmative Action as well as the Beijing Plan of Action by legislating for 30 per cent of elective and appointive positions for women.
Other guest speakers like the Executive Director, Gender and Development Action (GADA), Mrs. Ada Agiina-Ude; Executive Director, Female Leadership Forum (FLF), Mrs. Comfort Idika-Ogunye, and a grassroots politician and political activist, Mrs. Remilekun Adeniji spoke on various aspects of women taking top positions in politics; imperatives and support from men in politics.
They said women should not see themselves as competitors or as competing with their male counterparts but to work on building the nation together to a greater height.
Adeniji professed that the support systems, including affirmative action, were imperative for women to overcome the various barriers against their effective participation in governance or during election.
Agina-Ude noted that women are not enough in policy making, and mentioned the various facets of life in Nigeria as studies have revealed that there are only eight per cent of women participation in governance, while men occupy 92 per cent of the political space.
She advised women across the country to be more helpful to female aspirants during either primary or main election as there is gender inequality in politics.
In addition, the Centre also showcased issues on the need to advance the rights of People with Disabilities (PWDs) to actively participate during election period and to positively engage the electoral process.
Lagos State University (LASU) lecturer in the Department of Political Science, Dr. Dele Seteolu, highlighted that women with disability, people with physical challenges, people with Albinism, people with leprosy cases, and people with visual and hearing impairment are mostly being deprived of their right during election.
He said the PWDs are also appealing to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to create spaces for them in the electoral bodies, in order to be able to vote and be voted for into power during election period.