The recent atrocious murder of a women leader of People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in Kogi State Mrs. Salome Abuh is another dreadful reminder that Gender-Based Violence (GBV) has eaten deep into the fabrics of our society.
In a world where inclusion seems to be the new phrase for ‘what a man can do, a woman can equally do or do better’, it pathetically does not reflect in Mrs. Salome’s case, as she lost her life in some sort of mayhem, posterior to the announcement of the governorship result in Kogi state and it is nothing but a gender targeted violence.
Women more than ever before are known to pay a higher price for their political participation than men, regardless, burning a woman to death should never have been the last resort. These politically-active women —voters, political party card carrying members, candidates, and etcetera, oftentimes find themselves at the receiving end.
Truth is, a political life may not be easy for everyone, but it poses to be more challenging for women globally. Many a time, women have been discouraged from participating in politics as it is considered not suitable for them. This is not just political marginalization but political exclusion for women. In a moment of misfortune, the level of violence, hostility, and psychological abuse directed towards women who refuse to adhere to warnings, by participating actively in elections is usually brutal—from being beaten, harassed or abused, to being burnt alive, which in the aftermath, is crowned with no access to justice.
A while back, Cecilia Ezeilo, Enugu state deputy governor also raised her voice on gender-based violence saying political violence is the major factor militating against women political participation. According to her: “Continuous political violence is the major hurdle faced by women in politics and this has been designed by their perpetrators to scare women away from politics.” While it is understandable that some factors like political mis-orientation, discriminatory socio-cultural belief have been a probable menace, gender-based violence should be tackled as mental abuse is equally unacceptable as physical abuse.
Every Nigerian woman has the guaranteed right to participate actively in politics, regardless of the political party she belongs. Therefore, no woman should be regarded as a second-class citizen whose only duty is in “the other room” and not the board room where political decisions are being made.
Women participation in politics is vitally important because nothing beats inclusive politics as it results in real gains for democratic societies. Only a woman would champion policies that benefits women, children and families- such as maternal mortality and even girl child education like no one else can.
With continuous failure in administration of justice especially in cases of gender-based violence, the case of Mrs. Abuh will unfortunately continue to thrive in the face of injustice. A government that cares for her people and in particular, the vulnerable ones like women would make efforts that would serve as deterrent measures to ensure any practices that discriminate against women participation in politics are subdued and the evil-doers are dealt with
There is need to bridge the gender gap that exists between men and women in politics. If a study could show that global wealth would increase by having women who could earn same lifetime earnings as men, far more would a politics that addresses bullying, harassment, historical abuse or violence against women in politics promote democratic governance.
In the world of politics, gender should play no factor and it should never be a determining factor because if it is, the potential of women in politics would continue to be squandered. As a nation and as a people we cannot exclude women from political participation and think we can prosper in the things of democracy. Today being one of the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence (GBV), I raise my voice to say if all creatures are God-given, so are women. Again I join the rest of the world to say no to violence against women.
Tumininu is a Research Assistant at YIAGA AFRICA.
She is a passionate advocate of promoting women’s rights and inclusion in political participation.
She tweets @TumininuAdeeko