The call for increased political participation of women has been consistent in recent years as even the gender gap in the Nigerian political sphere continues to widen. The call was further reiterated by young women from major political parties and Civil Society Organisations in Nigeria, as part of the activities marking Women’s History Month.
The webinar on Women’s political participation, organised by ReadyToRunNG movement saw representatives from All Progressives Congress (APC) and People’s Democratic Party (PDP) emphasize the need to improve the participation of women in Nigeria’s political space. Both representatives urged young women to join political parties en masse, identify areas where they face challenges, and work together to scale through.
In her opening remarks, Director of Programmes, Yiaga Africa said it is important for us to consciously have conversations on how to ensure that by the next General elections in 2023, conversations around women’s participation in politics will remain priority. She noted that in discussing inclusion, it is imperative to not only look at women but specifically young women, because this set of people have very peculiar challenges. “They are not just young, but also female, and this is like a double jeopardy,” she said.
Speaking on areas existing in political parties that women can leverage on, Jiritmwa Goyit, a member of the PDP explained that the constitution of the party states that women can pick up nomination forms for free; a policy of which she is a beneficiary. According to Goyit, there is a new policy in place, that by 2023, all young persons who seek to pick up nomination forms will get a waiver.
Jiritmwa further recommends that a youth wing should be created in every political party, so that a certain percentage of political positions will be allocated to young persons. She notes that with this quota system in place, it will be easier for young women to fully participate in politics.
Jiritmwa further advised women to be politically active in their circles. According to her, nominations for positions usually occur due to recognition, and so she urged women to let their string of good works speak for them.
Similarly, Fatima Hassan Adeleke, a member of the APC reiterated that since 2015, there has been a policy in place to grant discounts on nomination forms for women. She noted that, financial challenges being one of the main hurdles women face in political participation, the waiver and discounts given by political parties actually encourage women who attempt to run for office.
She said that political parties usually only have women occupying the position of ‘Woman Leader’, aside that the rest of the women are just floor members. She recommends that political parties start by nominating women for critical positions within the party. This way, these women’s capacity can be built, and they can then be trusted to lead outside of the parties. She emphasized that if political parties put this in consideration, there would be no doubt that more women will be encouraged to participate in politics.
On how to get more women to be more politically conscious, Hassan noted that online discourses do not equate active political participation. Taking part in online trends, and bashing the leaders on social media is rarely the best way for women to actively lend their voices to politics. “Young women should join political parties, identify their wards, attend ward meetings and be politically conscious,” she challenged.
The ReadyToRunNG movement is a sequel to the NotTooYoungToRun movement. It seeks to provide guidance and support for young women and men who seek to run for office.