Tina Ezin ,Calabar
Gender and Development Action-Centre (GADA) and female political stakeholders in Cross River State have decried women inclusion and participation in governance both at the state and national levels.
The women stated their displeasures yesterday in Calabar at a One Day town hall meeting with community stakeholders with the theme; To encourage Increased Women Political Participation and Representation, Support for Women Aspirants and Increased Women Voter Turnout during the March 2023 Elections in Cross River State.
The programme was organized by a local women’s rights organisation, Gender and Development Action-Centre for Educational Training and Development Activities (GADA-CETDA) and implementing partner of the Women’s Voice and Leadership Nigeria Project (WVLP) with support from ActionAid and Global Affairs Canada.
Recalling the just concluded parties’ primaries where candidates emerged for various elective positions, they accused political actors of sustained poor representation and gender imbalance of women, noting that the primaries has produced less than 10 percent success for female aspirants who vied for various positions.
The Project Coordinator of WVLP, Mrs. Francisca Effiom said the organisation’s objective is centered on tackling the barriers that hinder increased participation of women in politics and decision making.
She added, “ women inclusion and participation in governance, both at the state and substancial levels cannot be over emphasized because research has shown that inadequate number of women in decision-making positions explain the country’s low investment and slow progress in some of crucial sectors of human development.
“this town hall meeting is to remind the relevant stakeholders that the level of women’s representation at the various positions in states, despite their numerical population strength is nothing to write home about. The recently parties’ primaries in the state has produced less than 10 percent success for female aspirants who vied for various political offices up to a high political gubernatorial seats.”
Stating that it’s discouraging despite efforts by civil societies in driving the process of women inclusion in leadership space in Nigeria, Effiom called on women to get their PVC’S ready to vote for women come 2023 general elections.
She said plans are underway by the Ministry of Women Affairs to launch a project called “Women Reconnect for New Nigeria Initiative (WR4NNI), aimed at galvanizing the women to participate fully and equitably in the processes leading to the 2023 general elections and beyond.
In a paper presented by the Guest Speaker from the Department of Social Works, Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Calabar, (UNICAL) Dr. Esther Archibong , said one of the likely challenges women face in political participation is patriarchy where the society ruled and dominated by men over women, revealing that it has resulted in women being looked at as mere housewives and some considered as properties or mere helpers in times of need.
She said it has been proven that when there is inclusiveness in political leadership, with both men and women contributing, the society benefits, ‘’ so as we prepared the 2023 elections, I want to plead that women should show interest in politics and actively participate, not only going out to cast votes but vie for leadership positions in policymaking and political party activities.” Archibong opined.
Narrating their ordeal at the just concluded parties’ primaries in the state, one of the female governorship aspirants, Filia Henshaw and a former local government Chairman of Calabar South, who vied for the House of Assembly position, Mrs. Marjorie Asuquo both lamented that women have been marginalized in politics.
Stressing the need for women to support women, they said women were not supportive to female aspirants in the just concluded primaries.
On their parts, the Founder of National Association of Women Journalist (NAWOJ) who is also in charge of Centre for Gender Development, UNICAL, Dr. Brenda Akpan and Special Adviser to the State Governor on Women Affairs, Dr. Gertrude Njah called for women inclusion in politics.
Also speaking, the Clan Head of Big Qua Town in Calabar Municipality local government area of the state, His Royal Highness, Ntoe Ekong Oqua said the education of women both politically and academically has enlightened them to equal their male counterparts in civil service and politics as well.
He therefore called on women to work harder in taking elective positions in the 2023 general elections.