Following the fallout of the 2022 political parties’ primary election, where women were scarcely represented, the International Republican Institute (IRI) and Women’s Democracy Network, in partnership with ElectHer, have embarked on advocacy as they launched a roadmap that will facilitate more women’s representation in politics.
The Chief Executive Officer of ElectHer, Ibijoke Faborode, while speaking with journalists during the launch of the Women Manifesto in Abuja, said the purpose is to present a roadmap that will proactively advance the inclusion of women in political leadership in Nigeria.
She said women have largely marginalized in Nigeria politics, especially in the last primary election where women had less than 15 per cent representation.
“When we talk about women’s issues about the protection of human life, it is about our existence and survival as a nation, it is about socio-economic development. So I look forward to a Nigeria where when we’re talking about women’s issues, we just don’t have women in the room, we have men who are male allies, because it’s about the nation, how we’ll survive”, she said.
Faborode said the roadmap is a guide. When it comes to complex issues like women’s inclusion, there is a need to have a high level of synchronization and collaboration between state and non-state actors, governments, the private sector, and civil society, everyone will be involved.
“There are so many things that are not within our control as Nigerians, but we can propose solutions that can be short to long-term. Now what we attempted to do with this document, and why we call it a road map, it’s not just another policy document; we’ve made very clear recommendations for short-term implementations that can happen within this fiscal year that can happen within the next two to three years and can happen within the next four to five years.
“The reason is that we want to ensure that whatever recommendations we are put in place, that different actors from the new administration now becoming, actually see something that they can take on board and I spoke about self-interest, I’m a very pragmatic person because we need to understand that politics is a game of numbers, politics is a game of humans”, Faborode stated.
She said in terms of the short term, it is what can be done now, and they partner with state or non-state actors to ensure that in the short term, they can get something within a fiscal year, and the medium plan is what can be achieved within two to three years.
“So it’s a document that anyone can pick up, and then you can have claims of interest from it, either you’re a state actor or a non-state actor.
“We’re currently finalizing the female candidates report, we are doing proper disaggregated data, and I’m sure within the next one or two weeks, we’re going to get that report.
“We know that female candidates have reduced, and I think we have less than 15% at the moment, this is the worst we’ve seen for several issues, the last electoral cycle we had more political parties, for example, we have fewer party less political parties now, but also a lot of women that ran in the primary elections lost, which means that there’s a lot of work we need to do at the earliest stages and that’s why we said going into 2027, women are not going to come out six months or one year before the election, once this election is over, we start preparing for the next one”, she added.
Bryant Fiesta, Program Officer of Women Democracy Network, said they are aiming for the short term of 2023 and ensuring that there’s individual capacity building for aspiring women leaders.
“We saw that ahead of the primaries, we’re seeing that now leading up to the February and March elections, we’re committed to supporting women elected to ensure that they can be effective leaders once they’re elected and sitting in the office.
The Women’s Democracy Network project, which the US State Department funds, is a two-year project that aims to increase women’s political leadership and participation.
When asked if there are statistics to support women’s participation in politics in Nigeria, Fiesta said, “absolutely. I want to start at the local level, right at the level, we have seen through our training.
“We convened male allies, men from every state late last year, and we saw that 60 per cent of our participants demonstrated an increase in agreement that there should be a quota in political women, mainly because they saw the short and medium-term benefits.
“Currently, we’re also hoping that a lot of these training that we’re providing the support and assistance will translate to greater women’s political participation and representations come 2027”, he added.
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