With less than two years to the 2023 general elections, the National Council for Women Society on Monday protested against the practice of fixing meetings at night by political parties saying it was unhealthy for married female politicians.
The organization said that most marriages had “broken up because women become very actively involved in politics.”
The President, NCWS, Dr. Gloria Laraba Shoda, represented by the President, South East Professional Women Association of Nigeria and Diaspora, Dr. Mrs. Nwanganga Ibeh, stated these in Abuja during a workshop on “Strengthening participation of women in Nigeria’s political process.”
The program was organized by the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies in partnership with the European Union; Political Parties Leadership and Policy Development Centre and Nigerian Women Trust Fund.
At the event, the acting Director-General of NIPSS, Brig. General Chukwuemeka Udaya, regretted that notwithstanding the existence of the Nigerian Gender policy, participation of women in the political process at various levels in Nigeria was still very low.
He blamed political parties for stalling efforts being made to include more women in the politics and governance.
“Indeed, political parties in Nigeria have provisions in their constitutions, guidelines and rules to ensure inclusion of women in the scheme of things, but in practice these provisions are either disregarded or utterly breeched.
“The overarching aim of this engagement is those sensitize and mobilize political party leaders and other stakeholders to proffer effective strategies that would improve the participation of women in the political process especially before the 2023 elections”, Udaya said.
Shoda stressed the need for political meetings to be held in day time to enable married female politicians effectively participate in politics.
According to her, because of the cultural background that does not allow women to be out late at nights, they were always not present at night political meetings where important decisions were taken.
Shoda said “In our culture, we know that women are not supposed to stay out late or come home very late. Most marriages pack up when women become very actively involved in politics.
“And we know that when they do not turn up for these night meetings where important decisions are taken, they are just left off.
“So, as we prepare the 2023 elections, I want to advocate that for women in politics to be effectively active in policy making and political party activities, political meetings should hold when it is reasonable for a married woman to attend.”
The NCWA President said that because society is changing where violence was becoming the order of the day, “political meetings should be held in the day time.”
The presidential candidate of KOWA Party in the 2015 general election and retired Professor of French Literature at the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile -Ife, Remi Sonaiya, called on the Independent National Electoral Commission and civil society organizations to “put greater pressure on political parties to adhere to the provisions of the National Gender Policy as well as the stated positions in their party constitutions.”
“My final word is a plea. We need our women to participate in governance. This should not be misunderstood by men as “they are seeking to unseat us; they are coming to take our place”.
It has been proven over and over that when there is inclusiveness in political leadership, with both men and women contributing their specific skills and competences, the society at large benefits greatly.
For decades Nigeria has been a bird trying to fly with just one wing; we have not gone far at all. It is time to fly with two wings. It is time to soar and take our place in the sky”, she emphasized.
Also speaking at the event, Executive Director, NWTF, Hajiya Mufuliat Fijabi, said her office was working to bridge gender gaps in governments, but however, said that women were still being challenged because of political terrain in the Nigeria and cultural background in some cases.
“We are working to ensure that there is political will to assist women to be where they have to be in terms of participating actively in politics and the electoral process.
“We have been mobilizing women and giving them necessary technical assistance to enhance their opportunities to emerge as elected representatives and appointed persons in government”, she said.
The chairman of the Inter-party Advisory Committee, Dr. Leonard Nzenwa, assured that going forward, women would have a better deal in politics because they would always be carried along.
He however, added that most of the political request made by women, needed constitutional backings to actualize them.
“Most of the things being requested by women need constitutional backings, you don’t just talk of reserving particular positions for women, you have to look at the constituency and other things.
“It is not only a one-party thing; it is an inclusive thing and that is why we are asking the National Assembly to make these provisions where it will be possible for all parties to comply with. If it is going be seven sits that will be kept aside for women, all the parties will comply”, he said.