On many occasions, women across the country have been demanding for more recognition in the political activities to secure key positions in governance in the country.
They observe that in spite of the adoption of 35 per cent affirmative action aimed at getting gender balance in that regard, women low participation in politics is still worrisome.
According to them, Nigeria needs to fulfill the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030 by involving more women in politics.
Also available record indicates that in 1999, women recorded only three per cent representation in contested offices.
In 2003, the figure rose to four per cent followed by a further improvement to six per cent in 2007 but from 1999 to date, no woman has been elected the governor of a state.
The record states that while some women contested and won elections into the Houses of Assembly in some states, the level of representation is still very low.
According to it, in 2003, there was no female member of the Houses of Assembly in Adamawa, Cross River, Ebonyi, Jigawa, Kano State, Katsina State, Kebbi, Nasarawa State, Oyo State, Sokoto State, Yobe and Zamfara.
Some of the women then observe that there are some policies in politics that make women participation difficult.
For instance, Mrs Gloria Shoda, the National President, National Council of Women Societies, observed that the cost of nomination forms among political parties had been a major concern to womenfolk.
He urged political parties to reduce the cost of their nomination forms for women to enable women to participate in elections, particularly in the 2019 general elections.
“The cost of nomination forms is out of the reach of women that are interested in elective positions and only few women would be able to afford it.
“We are praying that the parties should allow women to emerge as candidates, but with this amount of money, I don’t see how women will be able to buy forms.
“How many women will be able to buy form for N45 million, it is very difficult. So I am pleading with the authorities to review this.
“I am not saying that the women should not pay at all but they should pay very little money because our pockets are lean,’’ she explained.
The All Progressives Congress (APC) Presidential Nomination form costs N45 million, while that of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) costs N12 million.
The APC governorship form is N22.5 million and that of the PDP for the same office costs six million.
She argued, however, that the 1999 Constitution stipulates that no political party nomination form should be more than N1million.
She also solicited a level-playing ground for greater participation of women politics, policy-making processes and political leadership and review of land and inheritance for women.
During the recent National Women Summit in Abuja, Shaoda declared that women “want to address the gender imbalances embedded in the Federal Character Commission which restricts married women from utilizing their husbands’ state of origin for contesting elections.
“We want gender quotas to improve women’s access to political power and fair representation in decision-making processes that shape our country.
“We want the right to affirmative action as an avenue to redressing the inequalities created by history, culture and tradition.
“We believe that it is time to domesticate the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, the international treaty to foster equality between men and women’’
In apparent reaction to Shoda’s view, Mrs Adejoke Orelope-Adefulire, Senior Special Assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on SDGs, said that Nigeria was committed to gender concerns.
She said during the 60th anniversary of the National Council of Women Societies that concerted efforts must be made to ensure gender equality and women empowerment at the centre stage of development.
Sharing the concerns of women in this regard, Chief Afe Babalola, a senior advocate of Nigeria and founder of Afe Babalola University, said that a lot ought to be done to give women more room for participation in politics.
“It appears that the huge and overwhelming representation of women at most political rallies has not transformed to increased opportunities for women to contest election,’’ he observed.
He observed further that women are universally acknowledged to constitute an important unit of any electoral or political demography.
He said that it is worrisome that political parties seemed to be content with letting women bear titles as women leader and deputy women leader, among other such titles.
He observed that women in Nigeria, due to decades of forced submission to outdated ideologies regarding the role of women in society, might have come to regard themselves as eternal followers in the political schemes of events.
He, nonetheless, said that increasing public discourse on the role of women in politics spurred by women themselves would stimulate their increased participation in politics.
In one of such public debates on roles of women in politics, Prof. Remi Sonaiya, a former presidential election candidate, said that women should rise above any form of discouragement and strive to make a difference in political career.
She expressed the feeling that some men believed that women in leadership positions in politics would be achieved at their own expense and they tried to bring a certain degree of resistance.
Similarly, a woman politician, Mrs Remi Adikwu-Bakare said that there was a clear lopsided membership of legislatives in favour of men and called on women to become effectively involved in politics.
At the just concluded National Women Summit, the women recalled that Rep. Edward Pwajok, had presented bills to the National Assembly in favour of the need for more women representation in political engagements in the country.
According to them, one of the bills is to amend the Electoral Act 2000 to ensure that all political parties are gender-sensitive and to eliminate all forms of discriminations in all political parties.
Another bill, according to them, is a bill to for an act to amend the Federal Character Commission to give married women the option of being indigenes of their husbands’ places of origin.
Irrespective of men’s opinions on women’s involvement in politics, Gender Advocate Blessing Okoro, in her view during the International Women’s Day, said “women have made their mark in politics, different careers and; I think women should be given equal opportunity as long as they are qualified.’’(NANFeatures)