© 2019 - International Centre for Investigative Reporting
Report says social condemnation, poverty responsible for excluding women in electoral positions
A REPORT released by the Rule of Law and Empowerment Initiative has attributed social condemnation, poverty and religion as major factors responsible for preventing women from contesting for political offices.
The report made available to The ICIR, Wednesday in Abuja also identified godfatherism among the notable impediments.
It emphasised how the above reasons have denied women of opportunities to properly legislate on issues affecting the opposite sex.
The report which stressed further some of the challenges confronted by women who might be interested in holding public positions highlighted the bottlenecks based on peculiarities of states across the six geo-political zones.
In the North-East, for instance, the Non-Government Organisation (NGO) mentioned problems of inferiority complex and low education. The challenge of social disapproval, poor education, and poverty were identified in the North-West states.
For the North Central, the NGO also known as Partners for West Africa (PWAN) discovered the lack of women-friendly policies and incentives by political parties. Women in the South-West were reported to have complained about electoral violence and the perception of tagging the women folks who are interested in politics as prostitutes.
The report detailed concerns of women from the South-South to include poor supports from women networks, electoral violence and lack of female leadership at the grassroots. Moreover, in the South-East, the issue of social disapproval and women’s inability to lobby was a notable hindrance discovered during the study.
“In the first phase, PWAN carried out research across the six (6) geopolitical zones in Nigeria to assess the degree of women’s participation in politics and determine the factors that hinder them,” the report stated.
“Findings showed patriarchy godfatherism, economic, religious, and socio-cultural factors are general barriers that women are faced with. However, zonal peculiarities are indicated…”
Rolling out statistics, PWAN report argued that the figure of women occupying political positions in the country has remained unstable in every political dispensation and has continued to decline lately
Citing an instance, it stated that in the early 2000s, the level of women’s political participation was very low – between 3 per cent and 4.7 per cent. But, the number has reportedly increased to 7 per cent between 2007-2010, which, according to the report, was the highest level of participation the nation has experienced.
“In 2015, the political system began to retrogress again in this regard until it came down to 3.38 per cent in 2019,” the report stated.
The Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) was adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1979, enforced in 1981 and ratified by the Federal Government in 1985.
In 2004, the UN Committee on Elimination of Discrimination against Women recognised efforts of the federal government to engendering gender issues, especially through the Trafficking in Persons (Prohibition) Law Enforcement and Administration Act and the Childs Rights Act, it sought full compliance with the child right act and equal opportunities for women.
It also kicked against child marriage, citing the minimum age as 18.
The group, however, called for the implementation of the 35 per cent affirmative action and recommended the domestication of laws to promote girl-child education, the passage of the gender and equal opportunities bill to mention among others.