The International Press Centre, IPC, Yiaga Africa and the Nigeria Women Trust Fund , NWTF, have called on the National Assembly to ensure that the ongoing electoral reform process is targeted at promoting female participation in the electoral process.
The call was made during a virtual media roundtable on Gender and Electoral Reforms which was organized by IPC in collaboration with Yiaga Africa and NWTF.
While giving his welcome address, Lanre Arogundade, Executive Director, IPC, disclosed that the electoral space is yet to be accommodating of the inclusive issues of women at the desired level.
He stressed that, “IPC along with other EU-SDGN partners are interested in ensuring that the on-going electoral reform process leads to the passage of an electoral legislation that would serve as an enabling instrument to promote qualitative female participation in the electoral process while serving as mechanism that enables more women to be elected.”
Mr. Arogundade thereafter reiterated the citizens’ demands for the amendment of the Electoral Act, stressing that, “Section 31 (1) of the Electoral Act be amended to make it mandatory for political parties to include women, persons with disabilities and youths in their list of candidates for elections;
“Section 87 of the Electoral Act be amended to make it mandatory for political parties to ensure 50% inclusion of both genders as delegates in their primaries.”
Mufuliat Fijabi, Executive Director, NWTF who was represented by Lois Chinedu highlighted the factors limiting the participation of women in politics, adding that, “Political party nomination, wherein women are rarely nominated; Campaign funds, in favour of men, as most male candidates spend more than what was stipulated in the electoral act; and Needs for amendment in the electoral Act, and Constitution.”
Chinedu suggested that Section 87 of the constitution should also be amended to reduce the cost of nomination forms to make them affordable for women.
She also called for transparency in the political process by making open and public for 21 days the register of political parties stressing that the only way for women to participate effectively is through their activities in political parties.
Also, Samson Itodo, Executive Director, Yiaga Africa revealed that the gap created by the constitutional provisions, have made politicians to cultivate the habit of citing the constitutional provisions in sections 40-42 which prohibit gender inequality to argue against making needed amendments to the Electoral Act to promote women participation.
According to him, there was a dilemma as to whether it was the constitution that should be amended before the electoral act reform.
Itodo affirmed that, “the Electoral Act can be amended without infringing on the provisions of the constitutions.”
He noted that what women were indeed asking for was simply for improvement in women and youth representation in the electoral process.
Itodo thereafter proposed that there should be mobilization targeting the legislators, female members of the National Assembly and the media to ensure the passage of the amendments that would empower women in the electoral process.