* Seeks legal reforms to improve trend
Doosuur Iwambe, Abuja
The Legal Defence and Assistance Project (LEDAP) has decried low participation of women in political processes.
According to LEDAP, despite the fact that women constitute 48 percent of the population, only 5.8 percent of them hold political offices.
Speaking during a one-day media parley on legal barriers inhibiting women’s political participation, in Abuja, the group said, to improve on the trend, it has commence moves to review some of the laws and policies that provide access to political offices in Nigeria.
While identifying the Electoral Act, the Gender Policy of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the Gender and Equal Opportunities (GEO) Bill as some of the legal barriers hindering women’s participation in politics, LEDAP’s Executive Director, Mr Chinonye Obiagwu (SAN) said, some recommendations has been made to legislators and policy makers on affirmative action’s that can be adopted to increase access to political offices for women.
Obiagwu disclosed that LEDAP, in partnership with the National Democratic Institute (NDI), with the support of U.S Agency for International Development (USAID), is implementing a project titled: “Increasing Women’s Political Participation through Advocacy for Legal Reforms” under the Supporting Advancement of Gender Equality (SAGE) programme aimed at increasing women’s participation in political processes.
A facilitator at the parley, Uju Okeke, while reviewing some of the legal barriers in the 1999 constitution and INEC gender policy that inhibits women’s involvement in politics, said: “Women have been left behind in Nigeria’s political space.”
She called for the inclusion of gender diversity in the constitution in order to encourage women’s involvement in politics.
Okeke said: “Women’s political participation is a matter of justice, obligation and human rights.”
On factors responsible for the low participation, she said, some of them are affected by domestic duties, poverty, while some are concerned about taking care of their children, health issues and others.
Similarly, the Executive Director, Justice and Rights Initiative, Mr. Justin Gbagir, said: “Women’s political participation and gender equality in elections can be promoted through both international commitments and domestic legal provisions.”
He further suggested that policy and legal framework should be put in place to address the gender imbalances in the electoral process.