By Chinenye Offor
Abuja – Ms Comfort Lamptey, the United Nations (UN) Representative to Nigeria and ECOWAS, has urged stakeholders to ensure involvement of more women in peaceful elections in Nigeria.
Lamptey, who made the call on Wednesday in Abuja during a forum on Women Leaders Platform for Peaceful Elections, said women must be involved as the elections drew closer.
She said violence against women including during elections had been a reason for women not to run for public office and also an obstacle to the realisation of women’s political rights.
According to her, with increased representation and voice, women in politics can raise the profile of key issues including women’s participation in the labour force, reproductive rights, health issues and poverty alleviation.
She noted that enough women were not running for political positions and that voters were insufficiently supporting female candidates and therefore encouraged more participation of women in politics.
“Peaceful elections devoid of all forms of violence can only happen when citizens fully understand how it impacts our progress as individuals, citizens and as a nation.
“Women need active roles in elections, full participation not only as voters but also in increasing women in leadership positions as well as in peace committees.
“Building sustainable peace requires commitment and strong partnership between the government, security sector electoral bodies and the media to create a peaceful environment where the differences will be respected with the focus on the country’s development,” she said.
She introduced the African Women Leaders Network (AWLN), an initiative UN women embarked on at the continental level with the African Union and the support of Republic of Germany, as part of their ongoing efforts to promote women’s leadership in peace and stability.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the network was set up in New York in 2017 with 100 African women leaders from various sectors.
She said that their aim was to strengthen women’s leadership in Africa’s transformation in line with the Agenda 2063, towards lasting peace and sustainable development in all sectors, at all levels, building on and working with existing women networks.
Lamptey said that the AWLN pioneer members in Nigeria were in the process of launching the national chapter of the network with support of UN Women, the African Union and the Embassy of Germany.
She however hoped that the network would encourage women leaders in Nigeria to address some of the challenges faced by women in the society as well as demonstrate women’s leadership in working towards a common goal of achieving peaceful elections and prevention of violence against women in politics.
The Deputy Ambassador of Germany to Nigeria, Ms Regina Hess, urged Nigerian women to participate in politics as well as become better candidates for better positions.
Hess noted that election violence affected women more and stressed that it made them grow stronger.
“When there is crisis women grow in strength and during war, they shape in also for their men and crisis has some sort of positive sides because it helps women grow,” she said.
She also said that the German government would support the African women network and enjoined women to vote, saying that every vote counted.
She however advised against violence during elections, noting that elections come and go but they remained. (NAN)
By Chinenye Offor