By Chinwe Ogbuka, Assistant Director, Publicity
Additional reports by Nathaniel Gana
The Independent National Electoral Commission’s (INEC) advocacy efforts for increased women’s participation in the country’s political process gathered momentum on 13th April in Abuja, when a delegation of women led by the United Nations Women Representative to Nigeria and ECOWAS, Ms. Comfort Lamptey paid a courtesy visit to the commission’s headquarters.
The INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu seized the moment to assure the visitors that the Commission was committed to increasing women’s participation and presence in the country’s political space.
To Ms. Lamptey, the INEC Chairman’s acceptance to host the delegation at a very short notice, was a demonstration of his and the Commission’s commitment to the reason for which women from West and Central Africa converged on Abuja for a two-day regional conference with the theme: Women’s Political Participation in West and Central Africa: Comparative Perspectives and Experience sharing.
She said the meeting would afford the participants the opportunity to look at good practices and share experiences of women in politics in Africa, with a view to strengthening women’s representation in politics.
The UN Representative also disclosed that the conference has been looking at a number of areas, such as the Policy and Legal Framework and the role of INEC and Political parties to facilitate women’s participation in politics.
Hear her: “We have been looking critically at the role of political parties and how they can actually model a democratic character. We are looking at new dimensions, including violence against women in elections and how to prevent that.”
Responding, the INEC Chairman noted that the support of the UN Women and consultations with political parties had already led to an increase of the number of women occupying leadership positions in political parties.
He said: “We recognize the support and recognition you have always accorded our role in ensuring that programmes and policies of political parties are gender responsive. It is one such support that led to the consultative meeting of the leadership of political parties in Nigeria in December last year, and it was a huge success. Forty-five out of the 46 political parties at that time attended that particular consultative meeting.
“Since then, we have registered more political parties and I am happy to note that we have more women as chairmen of political parties in Nigeria than at any other point in our democratic history”.
He commended the UN Women for the inclusion of INEC in its on-going two-day Regional Conference. He said the Commission always looked forward to such kind of engagements and reassured the envoy of deeper ties. “The more we engage, the better for us in the African continent. INEC and the UN Women will continue to partner and our partnership will continue to grow from strength to strength,” he said.
Prof. Yakubu informed the visitors that INEC believes in inclusion and called for more collaboration with the Commission for more engagements, saying that INEC and UN Women will continue to partner and the partnership will ensure better inclusion of women in electoral process.
He said the Commission always looked forward to such kind of engagements and reassured the envoy of deeper ties. “The more we engage, the better for us in the African continent. INEC and the UN Women will continue to partner and our partnership will continue to grow from strength to strength.”
The delegation comprised Marie Josse, UN Women Regional Advisor (West and Central Africa) on Peace and Security; Marie Belonger, Senior Development Officer, Pan and Regional Development Programme, Ottawa, Canada; Joyce Namuhuja, Deputy Chairperson of the Gender Committee of Namibia and member of Parliament and Fatoumata Binta Dialla, President, Forum of Female Parliamentarians, Guinea.
Also in attendance were National Commissioners Mohammed Haruna, Dr. Mustafa Lecky, Secretary to the Commission, Mrs. Augusta Ogakwu and some Directors.