The International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA) Nigeria, under the auspice of the Women Political Project has advocated for women’s participation in the forthcoming 2023 general elections in Nigeria.

This need was echoed today in Ilorin, Kwara State capital during a workshop organised by FIDA Nigeria with support from United Nations Women and the government of Canada for Young Women on monitoring, documenting and reportage of election incidences of violence against women.

According to the FIDA National President, Mrs  Amina Agbaje who spoke through the Kwara State FIDA chairperson, Barrister Gloria Okoduwa, the workshop is being implemented across the four focal states of intervention namely; Kwara (North Central), Borno (North East), Plateau (North Central) and Kaduna (North West).

Okoduwa, in the speech read, said women constitute powerful electorates with millions of votes accounting for about 47 per cent in the 2019 election saying housewives ranked 3rd on the list of registered voters.

“Evidently, Women constitute a powerful electorate with millions of votes in Nigeria and according to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Nigerian women signalled their intention to make their voices heard in the 2019 election, accounting for about 47.14 per cent (39,598,645 million) of the 84,004.084 million registered voters nationwide. 

“Comparatively In 2015, three million, six hundred and sixty-seven thousand, and seventy-six (3,667,076) housewives voted in the presidential election, placing next to students (4,480,708) and civil servants (4,628,433).

Similarly, housewives rank third on the list of registered voters by the group in the last 2019 election.

“They represented 14.10 per cent of the total registered voters by group, next to farmers/fishers (16.23 per cent) and students (26.57 per cent). Despite this improvement in participation, recent data have clearly indicated that women’s rates of participation in formal decision-making remain one of the lowest on the continent and across the world with women occupying an abysmal 5.6 per cent (86 out of 1534) of all elective positions at both the national and subnational levels.

“Recognizably, eradication of political violence is key in advancing women’s political participation as it is of paramount importance to condense political violence before and after elections so that women can fully participate in elections.  The International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA) in laying credence to this fact has clearly recognized that elections have triggered outbreaks of violence in which women and girls were victimized which have made women a tool of political harassment and violence before during and after elections. 

“This has made female voters continue to be disproportionately affected by various forms of election-related violence or threats of violence which has the effect of keeping them away from the polling stations more than male voters.

It is on this premise that this capacity-building workshop is being organized towards advancing the participation of women in the 2023 general elections by strengthening selected networks of women groups to identify, observe, document and report incidences of violence against women in the elections. 

“The anticipated outcome will lead to reduced violence against women and will advance mass participation of women at the polls through effective reportage of violence incidences and synergy with Law Enforcement agencies, Election Observer Groups, Electoral Management body and other relevant institutions.

“We want to use this opportunity to appreciate the UNWomen and the Government of Canada for providing much-needed support towards the conveyance of this workshop. We thank participants for honouring this invitation while wishing all a fruitful deliberation  May God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”

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