President, National Council for Women Society, Dr Gloria Shoda, has stressed the need for political meetings to be held during the day time to enable married female politicians effectively participate.
Shoda made the call while speaking with newsmen at a one-day stakeholders’ engagement on ‘Enhancing Women’s Participation in the Political Process in Nigeria,’ on Monday, in Abuja.
Shoda was represented by Dr Nwanganga Ibeh, the President South-East Professional Women Association of Nigeria at the event, which was organised by National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies in collaboration with the European Union.
She pointed out that because of the cultural background that did not allow women to be out late at nights, they were always not present at night political meetings where important decisions were taken.
She 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.”
This, she added, was especially so if such women gave in to attending late night political meetings where importance decisions were taken.
“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 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,’’ she said.
She explained that this had become imperative, “Because we are in a changing and challenging world where violence is becoming the order of the day, political meetings should be held in the day time.”
Shoda said there was need to recognise that the world had changed, adding “we need to create new policies that are viable and attainable in line with the new world order.”
Executive Director, Nigerian Women Trust Fund, Hajiya Mufuliat Fijabi, said her office was working to bridge the gender gaps in governments.
Fijabi said, “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 mobilising women and giving them necessary technical assistance to enhance their opportunities to emerge as elected representatives and appointed persons in government.”
She, however, noted that women were still being challenged because of political terrain in the country and cultural background in some cases.
Inter-party Advisory Committee Chairman, 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 actualise.
Nzenwa said, “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.’’
Acting Director-General, NIPSS, Brig. Gen. Chukwuemeka Udaya, said that women participation in politics could not be underestimated.
He said the institute had commenced sensitisation efforts aimed at mobilising political leaders and other stakeholders to further deepen women participation in politics.
He noted that there were adequate legislature in the country and political guidelines to encourage women participation in politics, adding however that there was need for more sensitisation.
He said as a national institute, NIPPS would help to formulate strategies to encourage more women participation in politics.
He, however, regretted that notwithstanding the existence of Nigerian gender policy, participation of women in political processes at various levels in the country was still very low.
Udaya blamed political parties for stalling efforts being made to include more women in politics and governance.
“Indeed, political parties in Nigeria have provisions in their constitutions and guidelines and rules to ensure inclusion of women in the scheme of things but in practice, these provisions are either disregarded or utterly breeched.
“We are trying to develop strategies to implement those policies that are on ground, identify those regulations and bring out strategies that will assist to implement those legislatures,” he added.