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2023: Women politicians unveil online resource portal

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*say mode of primaries not enough reason to ditch Electoral Bill

*UN seeks to mobilize 6 million women for voters’ registration exercise in Q1, 2022

Women politicians in the country, on Monday in Abuja, unveiled an online resource portal for women seeking elective positions in the 2023 general elections.

During the unveiling of the project tagged: ‘Nigerian Women Aspirants Website’, financed by an international human rights organization, the women politicians under the aegis of Women In Politics Forum, also said that the mode of party primaries was not enough to bring the needed change expected to be seen in the country’s political process.

According to them, the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), and the National Assembly must take electoral reforms seriously.

The event was attended by many women including an aspirant for the Benue State House of Assembly and chairperson, League of Women Voters in Nigeria, Irene Awunah; Country Director of ActionAid Nigeria, Ene Obi; Executive Director of 100 Women Lobby Group, Felicia Onibon and Executive Director of Payeodi, Jophia Gupar.

The President of WIPF and renowned gender activist, Ebere Ifendu, told Journalists that the time had come for women to use the 2023 election as a moment to right many wrongs such as marginalisation and injustices against women.

She said, “We had high expectations that the Electoral Bill would have been assented to by the President, unfortunately, that did not happen. We are in support of direct primaries, where every registered party member participates to choose their flag bearers.

“This would have opened up the space and made it more inclusive of women, youth and persons with disability.

“Considering that the mode of primaries is not enough to discard the Electoral Bill, we, therefore, call on the National Assembly, on resumption, to make the necessary changes to the Bill and forward to the President for his assent.

“We also urge Mr President to assent to the amended Electoral Bill as soon as it is represented for his assent.

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“The 2023 elections are crucial and will determine the future of our electoral process.”

According to her, there had been a decline in the number of women elected into political offices from 5.6 per cent in 2015 to 4.7 per cent in 2019.

Ifendu however said all hands must be on deck to reverse the downward trend.

She said, “Lots of speculation exists as to why there was a decline in the percentage of elected female officials as opposed to the increase experienced between the 2011 to 2015 period.

“In order to address this decline, several civil society organizations, including WIPF, implementing partners and donor organizations have set different innovative projects to reverse these downward trends.

“And as you are aware, candidates are already declaring interest to contest at various levels in the 2023 general polls, including women. So, the website is set to provide accurate data about women in the poll and to answer significant questions surrounding the increase or otherwise of women’s participation in the Nigerian political scene.”

The Country Director of UN Women, Ms Comfort Lamptey, represented by its Programme Specialist (Women’s Leadership and Participation), Desmond Osemhenjie, said the United Nations had commenced the mobilisation of six million Nigerian women to participate in the continuous voters’ registration exercise by the end of the first quarter of 2022.

She said, “We are already in seven states working to ensure that before the end of the first quarter of this year, about six million women are registered through the INEC platform that is already ongoing.”

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