ABUJA – The Minister of Women Affairs and Social Development, Hajia Zainab Maina, has called on the leadership of political parties to create enabling environment to enhance engagement of women in politics.
Maina, who was represented by the Director of Women and Gender Affairs in the ministry, Mrs Iran Ajufo, made the call when she led women groups in a meeting with chairmen of political parties on Wednesday in Abuja.
Maina said that the ministry recognised the role of political parties in determining the political participation of Nigerian women in politics and decision making.
“The National Gender Policy, which has been passed by the Federal Executive Council, has established the benchmark of 35 per cent women representation in public office in Nigeria.
“Poor performance in the basic human development indices in Nigeria reflect the low level of women participation.
“So, there is the need to confront women’s low participation in governance through appropriate interventions,’’ she said.
Maina said Nigerian women had displayed their leadership skills each time they were called to serve in the country.
She urged political parties to ensure that women were included in their top hierarchy of leadership, parties’ policy committees and ensure their elections into elective positions.
“We solicit the support of political parties to help the women develop their manifesto; we want you to give them materials, financial and logistic support.
“The respective codes of conduct of the various political parties should promote active participation of women in the electoral process.
“The political parties should nominate at least 35 per cent female candidate and two per cent physically challenged persons for legislative elections.
“This should also apply with respect to the proposed proportional representation system within the contest of electoral reforms,’’ Mania said
She added that women could do more than occupying the position of women leaders if given the necessary support.
Responding, the Deputy Chairman of Inter-party Advisory Council (IPAC), Mr Abdulkadir Salam, said political parties had been promoting women in politics and ensuring their success.
He said that in an effort to promote their participation in politics, many of the parties offered free nomination forms to women interested in contesting in the 2015 general elections.
“One of the shortcomings we have is that women tend to withdrawn to bigger and mightier political parties and for that reason they have not been able to achieve the change they wanted.
“We want to encourage women to participate in every level of party’s politics,’’ Salam said.
He added that based on innovation of INEC, especially the introduction of card readers, it was now easy for a popular woman to contest election.
The Chairman, Social Democratic Party (SDP) Chief Olu Falae, said some of the challenges holding back women in politics included lack of cooperation from their spouses.
“Their spouses still view political parties as dangerous affairs.
“We need to persuade them that we are not riffraff and that their wives are safe joining political parties,’’ Falae said.
The National Publicity Secretary of IPAC, Mr Godson Okoye, said there was need to address negative perception about politics.
Chief Sam Eke, National Chairman of Citizens Popular Party also stressed the need for women to support their counterparts in politics.
“The challenge is more of yours than men. Convince the women to support the women folk.
“Let them respond to the challenges and more importantly get the best of their kind to the stage.”
“Whether you are a man or woman in modern society, what is important is person of moral credibility,’’ Eke said.(NAN)