By Ameh Ejekwonyilo
The Legal Defence and Assistance Project (LEDAP), has called for more women participation in Nigeria’s political space.
Speaking at a one-day media parley on legal barriers that inhibit women’s political participation, on Friday in Abuja, the Executive Director, LEDAP, Mr. Chinonye Obiagwu (SAN), said his organisation had reviewed some of the laws and policies that provide access to political offices in Nigeria, such as the Electoral Act, the INEC Gender Policy, and the Gender and Equal Opportunities (GEO) Bill and made findings on the existing legal barriers as well as recommendations to the legislators and policy makers on affirmative actions that can be adopted to increase access to political offices for women.
He noted that LEDAP in partnership with the National Democratic Institute (NDI), with the support of U.S Agency for International Development (USAID) is implementing a project titled “Increasing Women’s Political Participation through Advocacy for Legal Reforms” under the Supporting Advancement of Gender Equality (SAGE) program aimed at increasing women’s participation in political processes.
In a keynote address, the Resident Director, NDI, Stephen Snook said Nigeria’s democratic process would benefit more of women were allowed to actively participate in the process.
A facilitator at the parley, Uju Okeke while reviewing some of the legal barriers in the 1999 constitution and INEC gender policy that inhibit women’s involvement in politics, said “women have been left behind in Nigeria’s political space.”
She called for the inclusion of gender diversity in the constitution in order to encourage women’s involvement in politics.
Uju pointed out that “women’s political participation is a matter of justice, obligation and human rights.”
Similarly, the Executive Director, Justice and Rights Initiative, Mr. Justin Gbagir, said, “women’s political participation and gender equality in elections can be promoted through both international commitments and domestic legal provisions.”
He further suggested that policy and legal framework should be put in place to address the gender imbalances in the electoral process.