In a bid to change the poor political inclusion of women in politics and entrench the place of women in politics and governance space, the Women In Parliament (WIP) Committee of the National Assembly in collaboration with Yiaga Africa Centre of Legislative Engagement organised a two-day retreat that coincided with this year’s International Women’s Day to call for increased political inclusion of women. During the retreat,  Women in Parliament called on their colleagues in the National Assembly and State Houses of Assembly to, in the spirit of this year’s #EachforEqual campaign, take intentional steps in the ongoing constitution review and electoral reform process to promote women inclusion in governance and politics through gender-specific provisions.

Chairperson  of the Women in Parliament Committee of the National Assembly Honourable Taiwo Oluga

Chairperson  of the Women in Parliament Committee of the National Assembly Honourable Taiwo Oluga reiterated the importance of the retreat held in Lagos, saying it will harp on ways to improve gender equality in Nigeria through legislation and harmonious relationship with men, who are critical stakeholders in leadership in Nigeria. Hon Oluga decried the fact that Women participation in politics has never exceeded 6.7 percent of both elective and appointive positions in the country; adding that the digits are far below the global average of 22.3per cent. This is despite Nigeria’s Gender Policy and commitment to the Global Affirmative Action.

Further explaining her point, she said, “in the current Federal Executive Council, only seven women were appointed as Honourable Ministers; eight female senators out of the 109 senators in the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 11 women in the House of Representatives, this is far lower than the eighth Assembly, therefore urgent steps must be taken to improve women’s participation in politics.

While echoing similar thought, Deputy Chairman of the committee Hon Usman Abdullahi question the political will and internal democracy in political parties which has prevented political inclusion and representation of women.  Hon Abdullahi also called on other lawmakers to use the ongoing reforms of the Electoral Act and the Constitution to ensure that political parties adopt a quota system in their manifesto with women and men alternating (50:50) on its candidates’ list.

He said, “For all elective positions, there should be an intermix of both genders, particularly positions requiring running mates. Only parties who are intentional about women’s participation will receive women’s votes in the 2023 elections,” Abdullahi said.

The retreat also witnessed presentation of analysis of the 2020 Budget of the Federal Government of Nigeria from Gender and Youth perspective by Dr Terfa Abraham. The analysis highlighted that the share of gender specific projects as a percentage of overall FGN budget in 2020 is 0.19%, while the percentage of gender capital budget in overall capital budget in the 2020 budget is 0.82%. The analysis also revealed that though prioritizing gender related projects is a step in the right direction, most of the Ministries, Department and Agencies duplicate empowerment programmes that are gender related and targets women.

Other facilitators at the retreat included: Dr. Abiola Akiyode-Afolabi, Women Advocates Research and Documentation Centre (WARDC); Prof. Okey Ibeanu of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC); Ebere Ifendu, Women in Politics Forum (WIPF), among others.

Similarly, the committee decried the increasing insecurity across the country but however applauded the untiring efforts of the country’s security agents particularly those in the battlefield of the North-East. Women and children are the greatest victims of the nefarious activities of insurgents, kidnappers, armed robbers. We lend our voice for the rejuvenation of our security approach for improved results.

At the end of the two-day retreat, the committee released a communique making series of resolution which address issues like electoral reform, security, Petroleum Industry bill, political inclusion amongst others. Read Communique here