Women have been urged to improve their participation in politics and use their feminist nature to organise political space for peace and progress in Nigeria.
The independent National Electoral Commission in collaboration with Professor Eme Awa Foundation made this call at a Town Hall meeting with women groups and Gender focussed CSOs to enhance women’s participation in the coming elections.
The head of Voter’s registration, INEC, Mrs Ijeoma Orikopwe said there have been more sensitisation programmes at the grass root level to improve the low turn out of women in elections.
Mrs Orikopwe said women “should start looking into cultures and religious believes that serves as hindrance to their involvement in Politics… Religion should not be a hindrance to women in their participation in politics.”
According to her, there have been talks with Civil the Society Organisation, CSOs and Security organisations to ensure a free and fair election.
She said such workshops should be replicated at the lower levels so that a large percentage of people can get the message.
“We carried our sensitisation campaign to the markets which makes it visible to all that we are no longer an Olympic that comes ones in four years, but we do a lot of enlightenment like trainings, capacity building, to enhance voter’s education before any election.
“Being in the kitchen doesn’t stop you from playing your role as a woman because women are gifted with diversification role. If you perform your duties well at home, it is your family members that will be the first to support you in your political ambition because for every setting, there is a role…We even opened windows for people to do transfer.That is those who registered in another place were transferred to their present place of residence,” Mrs Orikopwe said.
“We have held meetings with the media in the past… And our priority votings have women in mind especially pregnant women and people with disability because our staffs have been trained to give them priority,” she explained.
One of the guest speakers and a Dr of Sociology, Dr Franka Arthur said bills on women related issues like good pipe borne water and maternal mortality can only be given prominence in Nigeria when women are more in politics.
She urged Nigerians to be at alert to ensure the smooth running of the elections.
Dr Arthur said the international communities were around and are believing Nigeria might make a mistake which is the more reason we need to prove them wrong.
“We the women are more, so we need to participate more. Motherhood should not disturb, Domestic activities should not affect you from taking pàrt in the governance of our country…For any government that would be coming in, we need to have a lithany of needs that he must meet up with. After 60 years of independence, no woman has become a governor in Nigeria, let alone, a Vice President,” she stressed.
Dr Arthur called on the media to bring the narratives of the marginalisation of women in politics to the fore so that it would resonate and those in power would be able to adjust for the women to also have their own sit in the affairs of their state.
She said women have used their feminine power in the past to bring about positive changes as some of them exposed their breasts in the public which they knew was a curse in the Africa Cosmology to show their anger at the policies in place at those period.
“No man can stand many women opening their breasts at once and so we show you what you don’t want to see to let you know we are not happy” Dr Arthur stated.
She also identified factors like God fatherism, thurggery, illiteracy, structures of political parties, late night meetings, ballot snatching and violence as major impediments against women partipation in politics in Nigeria.
Discussing the topic, ‘Issues and priorities in the 2019 general election’, Dr Mariam Kadiri said electoral laws must be adequately implemented in Nigeria and that the electoral body must be impartial in all ramifications.
She urged Nigerians to desist from monetisation of electoral process through vote buying and selling to avoid mortgaging their future and that of their Children which she said could be done by rejecting anything given to buy their conscience.
Kadiri encouraged media professionals and INEC to disseminate accurate news quickly to put fake news in check.
She enjoined Nigerias to cross check the accuracy of news stories before spreading them.
Kadiri advised INEC to intensify effort to include the Internally Displaced Persons and also put in place structures that can assist people with disabilities to get to the election venue.
Lateefah Ibrahim I VON