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UN wants laws backing Nigerian women seeking political offices

UN wants laws backing Nigerian women seeking political offices

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women) have advocated laws to empower women to run for political offices. The Deputy Representative of UN women, Mr Lansana Wonneh made the call at a stakeholders Consultative Meeting on “Women Participation in Elections Support Bill, 2018’’ on Friday in Abuja. Wonneh said that there was a need for Nigeria to deliberately formulate laws to enhance women participation in politics in line with global best practice. He said that women’s inclusion in politics was about their human rights, yet most parliamentarians don’t understand or agree why the Women Participation in Elections Support Bill, 2018 should be signed into law.

“Some arguments are structurally redundant, at this time and age, I do not expect that people in parliament will think like that, we have seen ministers and prime ministers around the world that do well so why can’t we learn from that. “In Africa, Nigeria is leading in almost everything but it is appalling to see that she is one of the countries with the lowest participation of women in parliament. “A small country, South Sudan is leading this country in the areas of progressive development by the clear commitment to include women in governance, countries like Rwanda, Ghana among others are doing better than Nigeria in inclusive governance. “We need to do everything to ensure that gender equality is adhered to, particularly in decision-making because it is fundamental for economic reasons.’’

According to Wonneh, the best places that resources are distributed are in decision-making because the parliamentarians decide on budget, what is allocated and where. He said if “there are no women seated on decision tables, if women were not given opportunities to play roles, it then means that they would have nothing to take away.’’ According to him, it is predominantly because of that reason that poverty has become the face of women in Nigeria since resources are hardly accrued for the right purposes.

Mrs Onyinye Ndubuisi, Lead Governance Department, UNDP said the organisation decided to support the passage of the bill because of low participation of women in politics in Nigeria. Ndubuisi said that though Nigeria was a signatory to many international treaties that support women in politics like the 35 per cent affirmative action, there were no local laws to support. She said that women were disenfranchised and their mandates were taken from them so the Women Participation in Elections Support Bill when passed, would guarantee them space in politics Ndubuisi said it was disheartening to hear lawmakers argue during the second reading of the bill that women participation in politics had no correlation with economic development. She said that the UNDP was supporting the commission in ensuring the passage of the bill because such a project was laudable and involved the whole country.

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Prof. Joy Ezeilo, former Special Rapporteur on Rights of Women said the bill sought to prescribe women quota for elections into the Senate, House of Representatives, State Houses of Assembly among others. Ezeilo said that the bill would support and enhance women participation and representation in certain elective office, adding that it would mandate political parties to have one-third of candidates as women. She said there was the need for Nigeria to deliberately work toward the inclusion of women in governance because it would give the nation relevance internationally.

Source – Vanguard

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