By Longtong Ibrahim, Sr Reporter
Women politicians in Kaduna state have identified voter apathy, lack of empowerment, gender role, stereotype, men discouragement, selling of vote, and stigmatization as some of the challenges militating against full participation of women in politics.
This was parts of the outcomes reached at the end of a one-day Women In Politics forum on Thursday, organized by LEADs-Nigeria in collaboration with Action Aid, aimed at bringing women groups together to discuss ways of broadening the participation of women in politics.
One of the participants, Aisha Mohammed, while speaking during the forum, lamented women’s failure to support their fellow women – out of jealousy; hence, there is the need to gain each other’s trust so as to move forward.
According to her, when women are elected and occupy strategic positions, the interest of women will be protected, pointing out, “Had it been women are well represented in the National Assembly, the Affirmative Action Bill of 35 percent for women wouldn’t have been thrown out from the House.”
One of the participants, Mrs. Ngozi Okorie, in a paper presentation titled, ‘Women in Politics and Governance in Nigeria,’ stressed that, women in Nigeria have the numerical strength to contest and win an election, but their numbers are irrelevant in governance, saying, they are mostly used for rallies and campaigns.
According to NBS report, 2015, women constitute 49.5 of the country’s population, while men are 50.5, yet, only seven percent are in governance, she said, adding that “only 5.9 percent are in the national legislatures when compared to most African countries.”
She however urged women to rise to the challenge, saying the era of just being used for rallies, campaigns and voter registration are over.
Another participant, Rabi Saleh Tukur, pointed out that the root of the challenges arises from political parties. According to her, most political parties in Nigeria are dominated by men, and the only position given to women is that of the “women leader.” She stressed that unless women are focused and empowered, they will continue to be relegated.
Participants were of the opinion that women should be bold and maintain high integrity so as to dispel any form of stereotype and stigmatization. They also resolved that there is need for massive sensitization on the power of a vote and importance of politics to women, while the public should know that politics is a career for all.
Earlier in her welcoming address, Executive Director of Leads-Nigeria, Mrs. Rebecca Sako John, said the forum was necessitated as a result of the drastic reduction of women’s participation in politics and appointments across all levels of governance in the country in recent years.
According to her, there is need for women to come up with an open heart to actively participate so that they can contribute their own quota for the development of the country.