2023: Women, Girls’ Inclusion Is Nigeria’s Chance at Development and Accountability, Says CSOs
- Agitations and advocacy for the participation of women and girls between the ages of 18 to 35 years in Nigeria's electoral practice has intensified
- In the build-up to the 2023 general elections, women have been urged to participate either on the ballot or by the ballot
- However, traditional and religious leaders have been urged to support the campaign in sensitising female folks in their immediate environment
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FCT, Abuja - The country representative of the Catholic Agency for Overseas Development (CAFOD) Kelechi Emeh, said women and girls' inclusion in the Nigeria electoral practice is the country's best chance at development, better voice and accountability.
Mr Emeh stated this on Wednesday, September 7, in Abuja during an interfaith roundtable meeting with community and religious leaders on increasing the participation of young girls and women between the age of 18 and 35 in the political and electoral process of Nigeria.
The Centre for Women Studies and Intervention (CWSI) organised the interfaith and was supported by CAFOD towards identifying the role of religious and community actors/stakeholders in promoting female inclusion in leadership and decision-making process
While speaking to Legit.ng regional correspondent, Mr Emeh noted that it is important for women and girls to participate effectively in Nigeria's electoral process, especially in the forthcoming 2023 general elections.
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"The data that we have in Nigeria speaks volumes. According to the data we have, 7% of the women represented in the National Assembly, and we equally have a proper marginalisation of the young women, women between the ages of 18 to 35 have been left behind in our political process in Nigeria and that made CAFOD and our partnership development Centre for women for studies and intervention to take action to address this challenge and to build up a better society for Nigeria.
"The inclusion of women in the Nigeria political process will ensure development and better voice and accountability in this country."
"Nigeria has not been fair to women and girls" - Barr Idogbe
Meanwhile, Barrister Pascal Ignatius Idogbe, the Program manager of CWSI noted that the statistics favour women, but the societal norm has taken a toll on them over the years.
Barrister Idogbe, a gender equality advocate, stated that there had not been an adequate representation of women in decision-making, governance and the country's democracy.
"You know Nigeria, like other countries, is very patriarchal, and patriarchy can be defined as the government of male, by the male and for the male.
"It is opposed to the democratic values because democracy is the government of the people, by the people and for the people.
"So when you have one gender of the society represented it means that the other gender is excluded. So when you exclude women that is gender injustice."
"Women must take advantage of their numbers" - Tome
On the other hand, Ewomatome Precious Uwubiti, the gender officer of CWSI who also double as the project coordinator for action to promote female participation in elections (ABIPIN), believed that women and girls must seize the opportunity of their numbers at the forthcoming polls.
When asked what level of impact women and girl's participation will bring to the polls, she said:
"I believe we are larger regarding the number of women and girls in Nigeria.
"We have the opportunity of completely changing the tide of governance and that only happens when we really come out in numbers to vote for the persons of our choice without any undue influence in form of financial gain or anything at all."
Similarly, Usi-Omoregbee Flora, the communication analyst for CWSI, believes that women should not be treated as minorities in a democratic clime that preaches the dividend of democracy.
While speaking on the participation of women and girls in the forthcoming polls, she noted that women must make their presence felt by trooping out in their numbers to exercise their civic and constitutional rights during the elections.
"It is important that we are part of choosing our leader. Like I said, democracy is for the people. We are part of the people. They say that we are the minority group. We are not actually the minority, because we are more than half of the population. So, we are actually not the minority. We should be part of choosing our leaders."
Fatima Zakari, a participant and resident of Gwagwalada, said women should be given a chance to be voted for.
She said women constitute a pivotal part of society and deserve to be treated as such rather than marginalised from the equation of decision.
Zakari also urged traditional and religious leaders to join the advocacy and help champion women and girls' inclusion in the electoral practice of Nigeria.
2023 polls: UNDP, CSO targets 29m young voters
In another development, stakeholders and interest groups have commenced preparation for the 2023 general elections.
The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Yiaga Africa have collaborated to ensure a smooth-running election at the 2023 polls.
However, Nigerian youths have been implored to take advantage of their numbers and decide the outcome of the 2023 polls.