By John Okeke
The Commissioner of Social Affairs and Gender , ECOWAS Commission, Dr. Siga Fatima Jagne yesterday revealed that Nigeria has the lowest representation with 6.4% in national parliaments in West Africa .
Jagne who spoke in Abuja at the First Session of the ECOFEPA Regional Summit on ECOWAS Women’s Political Participation and Representation in Democracy and Governance in West Africa said Senegal has the highest female representation of 41.8%.
She said the statistics of female representation in the National Parliaments of ECOWAS member states as at February , 2018 showed a regional average of about 14% parliamentary seats occupied by women in West Africa.
According to her , women representation will make a difference in the lives of people in West Africa.
She stressed that the launch of the ECOWAS Gender Election and Strategic Framework will further deepen the women participation in politics in West Africa.
“It is one of the most important thing we have been working in West Africa. If you remember in the speech we talk about this thing we have started since 2010 and it just finally coming into fruition. It is extremely important because we are at cross road in West Africa with a lot of problems and challenges. We feel that women participating in election and representing their constituents will make a big difference in the lives of people in the west Africa. We think that as long as women are lost out we won’t get to where we want to go. We want to work hand in hand to the place we want to be which is West Africa. We hope it will happen with the launch of this program today for the ECOWAS countries .
“Senegal made a law to have fifty percent representation of women and fifty percent representation of men in parliament. And I think other countries in West Africa can take a cue from Senegal and do that . And Nigeria we will urge them since they have low percentage of women to also work on legislation for the 2019 elections to ensure that women if not 50% at least move up from 6% they are to 25% and gradually take it to 50%,”she added.
Also speaking, President of ECOFEPA and a Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Stella Odua, said our countries will be in good stead in meeting Sustainable Development Goals if there is a deliberate policy and action in including women in government.
In her speech, the Danish Ambassador to Nigeria, Amb. Mette Thygesen said the summit will contribute to the construction of strong networks in West Africa where all the women will air their views.
“You are the strong voices of women throughout West Africa. And you are the ones who can help ensure that eventually , girls will enjoy the same rights and opportunities as boys,” she said.