United Nations Women (UNwomen) on Monday said it would partner with Civil Society Organisations (CSO) to provide support for women in politics during party primaries ahead of the 2019 elections.
The Country Director, UNwomen, Ms Comfort Lamptey, said this at the Young Women’s Political Leadership School (YWPLS) training organised by the Gender Centre for Empowering Development (GenCed) a Ghanaian-based CSO in Abuja.
Lamptey, who was represented by Mr Desmond Osemhenjie, Programme Manager, Women Leadership and Participation, said that UNwomen was concerned with the low representation of women in politics in Nigeria.
“Nigeria is supposed to be the giant of Africa but when it comes to issue of women representation, it is almost the least in the continent which is not acceptable.
“UNwomen globally is concerned about this and they have been watching Nigeria because even if there is 56 to 70 per cent women participation in Rwanda, Senegal and Ghana it is not enough for Africa.
“This is because when you take the population of Nigeria into account and take the average, the number drops drastically, so Nigeria is a very strategic nation in Africa.
“The world watches because if Nigeria has just 50 or 40 per cent of women representation, it will also affect the average representation of women in Africa.’’
Lamptey said that this was so because the average representation of women in Africa dropped because of Nigeria, taking into account the population of Nigeria compared to other African countries.
She commended GenCed for organising the training, adding that it would help to change the narratives of women participation in Nigeria and to equip them for practical participation.
She urged women to belong to political parties and be very active, adding that they could use this window of people defecting to their advantage by making demands on political parties.
Lamptey said that women had the number to demand anything from political parties, especially automatic tickets because politics was a game of number.
She said that was why UNwomen would collaborate with CSOs to empower and support them during party primaries ahead of 2019.
Also speaking,Mrs Mufuliat Fijabi, Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian Women Trust Fund (NWTF), said that the fund was established in 2011 to push for and close all gender gaps in governance process.
Fijabi, who was represented by Ms Lois Chinedu, said that women continued to be under represented in politics in Nigeria, adding that the parity in the number of women in leadership roles was not sufficient.
“The fund recognises that investing in young women political aspiration is the right thing to do because we understand the challenges they face.’’
She commended GenCed for the training, adding that there were lots of opportunities women were missing due to lack of capacity.
She urged the young women to be attentive in the training to learn what would equip them for political race in 2019 and so they would in turn teach others.
Ms Esther Tawiah, Executive Director, GenCed, said that the training was organised to build the capacity of young women and mentor and guide them through the way of political office.
Tawiah said that this was because the journey was a tough one the ladies needed to be prepared and get to understand what the political terrain held for them.
She said that the idea behind the leadership school was borne out of the desire to curb the challenges women face in politics and provide support for them to be able to contest.
She added that the programme was supported by the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), UNwomen Nigeria, to get young women viable for elective positions.
Mr Ibrahim Farouk, Senior Programme Officer,Youth Initiative For Advocacy, Growth & Advancement (YIAGA), Africa, said that it was necessary to equip Nigerian women ahead of 2019 in order to mainstream their participation.
Farouk said that since 1999 the representation of women in politics had declined instead of increasing and Nigeria had come to a point where that trend would be reversed.
He said that the training was apt, especially with political party primaries around the corner to empower women for the task ahead of 2019.