The 100 Women Lobby Group has urged all levels of government to ensure a level playing field for women to fully participate in politics and other leadership forums, particularly with the 2023 elections approaching.
The group’s national coordinator, Felicia Iyore Onibong, made the remark in Abuja during the public presentation of a survey it initiated titled “Improving Electoral Integrity and Accountability in Nigeria Project,” stressing that women have been purposefully excluded from governance in Nigeria.
In all fields of human activities, including politics, Nigerian women have paid their dues. Women like the Great Magret Ekpo of the Aba Women’s Riot, Mrs. Funmilayo Ransome Kuti, Hajia Sawaba, and others put their lives on the line for Nigeria’s political freedom prior to independence. Women like Franca Afegbua, Nkiruka Onyejeocha, Biodun Olujimi, Nkoyo Toyo, Sarah Ochekpe, and Sarah Jubril, among others, have made significant contributions in post-independence Nigeria that cannot be overlooked,” she noted.
She bemoaned that despite women’s contributions, “they are still criminally excluded in mainstream politics and governance,” adding that reasons for women’s limited participation in political activities include stifling cultural and religious practices, induced poverty and poor education on the side of women, poor policy implementation, feminization of poverty, and branding to exclude women, among others.
She stated that the importance of women’s participation in the electoral and political processes, as well as good governance in Nigeria, cannot be overstated if the country is to reach its full potential, and that there is a need for a process that ensures electoral integrity, inclusive participation, and accountability in the electoral process.
Onibon expressed disappointment that government agencies charged with ensuring the implementation of policies that ensure gender equity in activities that underpin and promote political participation are inactive, pointing out that political party rules and processes are heavily influenced by the interests of those with the majority membership.
She therefore urged political parties to take affirmative action to increase the number of women elected to leadership positions in their parties and other organizations, emphasizing that similar affirmative action should be taken by student unions, labor unions, professional associations, community associations, youth associations, and other organizations where leadership positions are filled through elections.