By: Mayen Etim
KADUNA, North-West, Nigeria – Founder and Programme Director of a Non-Governmental Organization, Empowering Women for Excellence Initiative, (EWEI), Safiya Ibn Garba, has said women are faced with several obstacles for participating in politics, and from the local to the global level their leadership and political participation are restricted.
She stated this at the Civic Education and Participation for Women Project, (CEPWOP)/ political parties engagement – town hall meeting with female candidates of different political parties in Kaduna state on Friday.
According to her, structural barriers through discriminatory laws and institutions still limited women’s options to run for office. She said that women are underrepresented as voters, as well as in leading positions, whether in elected office, the civil service, private sector or academia, saying this occur despite women’s proven abilities as leaders and agents of change.
The EWEI boss explained that the meeting was aimed to create an interface between female candidates from at least nine political parties contesting for state and federal legislative positions and the citizens from different constituencies, to provide a unique opportunity for them to share their visions, engage and answer questions from participants on the most pressing issues they wish to raise.
“In a 2018 survey carried out by EWEI in Malali and Tum communities, of Kaduna North and Kaura Local Government Areas of the state indicated that less than 50 per cent of female respondents were interested in discussing female inclusion in politics, while less than 40, per cent were interested in discussing internal democracy. This illustrates the very issues CEPWOP aim to tackle,” she said.
Speaking on “Internal Democracy, How Does It Work?” A Trained Delegate for CEPWOP programme, Mrs. Theresa Binniyat, said intra-party democracy is usually known to nurture citizens’ political competence and or produce more capable representative which in turn ensures that the party produces better policies and political programmes.
She said that to promote internal democracy in political parties there must be transparency, because once a leader is not transparent there would be problems, and there were two approaches to promote internal democracy like advocacy, legal or regulatory.
A Resource person, Mrs Emelda Yashim, in her presentation: “Female Inclusion In Politics and Challenges” said going by the Global Gender Gap index data of the World Economic Forum, (WEF), Nigeria was ranked 135th out of 144 countries, scoring 0.052 in 2017. Nigeria declined to 0.052 in 2017, from 0.097 in 2016, representing a 46.4 per cent positions.
She called on the government to develop strategies to get more women in love in the political process and develop more policies that prioritizes the best interest of women which will in turn benefit the society as a whole.
“The gap in political empowerment shows what we know already that Nigerian women are not participating in the political process anywhere near the rate of men.
“As the country approaches the 2019 general elections, women are hoping that the government tackles all the obstacles on their path to allow for more women in both elective and appointive positions,” she said.
Fielding questions on insecurity in the country, a candidate for the Federal House of Representatives on the platform of the Mega Party of Nigeria, (MPN), Betty Kukwa, said insecurity comes when people are denied resources. So if she wins the election she will ensure laws are concretely made to address issues of the youth, children, women and the girl-child.
“An empowered youth cannot engage in drugs. It is often said that knowledge is power and this could be through formal education or through skills acquisition, and I always say that Kaduna state is so blessed. Panteka is a great place where if we target our youth for skills acquisition in some areas.
“You will discover once then youth become empowered, have sources of income they would not go out there to be manipulated by anybody who has money,” she said.
Also, a male champion at the event, Yusha’u Abubakar, from Rigasa community in Igabi LGA, said he is in support of women candidacy. He said that he is a victim of insecurity as he was attacked by Fulani herdsmen who took over his farmland and that forced him to relocate his family to another community.
He commended the women for the bold steps taken, saying if Kaduna state were to be governed by a woman drastic action would have been taken on the issue of insecurity bedeviling the state, because as mothers whenever people approach them on burning issues in the community, they quickly take action on same.
Participants at the meeting includes: female candidates from the New Progressive Movement, (NPM), Mega Party of Nigeria, (MPN), African People Alliance, (APA), Alliance for Social Democrats, (ASD), African Democratic Party, (ADC), Peoples Democratic Party, (PDP), and National Rescue Movement, (NRM) among others.