Women Synergy Conference
The INEC's Role in Enhancing Women's Participation in the Electoral Process: Creating Synergy Amongst Women Politicians, Scholars and Activists workshop was organised within the framework of the European Union Support to Democratic Governance in Nigeria (EU-SDGN) programme with technical assistance from the European Centre for Electoral Support (ECES) and funding from the European Union. The event took place from 26 - 27 September 2018 at the Margaret Ekpo hall Hawthorne suites, Abuja, Nigeria.
The objective of the workshop was to deepen INEC’s role in improving the quality of women engagement in the political process in general, increasing women’s participation in the electoral process in particular, as well as, helping to chart roles for female politicians, scholars, and activists toward strengthening women’s participation in the 2019 elections.
Specifically, the workshop sought to:
1. Interrogate the reasons for the low participation/success of women in the political and electoral processes in general, and in the last electoral cycle in particular and;
2. Discuss ways of encouraging greater female participation in the political and electoral processes as voters, candidates and or as holders of elective and appointive positions.
The two-day workshop opened with goodwill messages delivered by distinguished guests; among who were ECES President, Monica Frassoni (MEP); Representative of the INEC Chairman and INEC National Commissioner, Dr. Adekunle L. Ogunmola; representative of the European Union Ambassador, Olivier Ahout, among others.
Panel discussions facilitated by some distinguished guest was the order of the two-day workshop, with comments and questions from different participants after each session.
Topics discussed at the conference included:
• Women’s Role in the Electoral Process – Theoretical and Practical Perspectives;
• Enhancing Opportunities for Women and People with Disabilities in Political Parties;
• Role of Civil Society and Media in Enhancing Women Political Participation, Emerging Trends in Women’s Political Participation: Perspectives from Selected Electoral Stakeholders;
• Women Participation in the Electoral Process in Nigeria: Comparative Analysis with other Countries;
• Strengthening Synergy amongst Politicians, Scholars and Activists on Enhancing Women Participation in the Electoral Process: A Programme of Action;
• Prospects and Challenges of Young Female Entrants and PWDs in the Electoral Process.
Eminent personalities who participated in the panel discussions included; Prof. Antonia Simbine – Okoosi (National Commissioner, INEC), Prof. Yinka Omorogbe (Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Edo State), Amina Salihu (Phd) – Senior Programme Officer of Mac Arthur Foundation, Dr. Adekunle L. Ogunmola (National Commissioner, INEC), Barr. Ebere Ifendu (President, Women in Politics Forum), Dr. Julie Sanda (Research Fellow, National Defense College, Abuja) Patience Dickson (Advocacy for Women with Disabilities), Prof. Jibrin Ibrahim (Senior Fellow, Centre for Democracy and Development), Lanre Arogundade (Director, International Press Centre), Toun Okewale Sonaiya (CEO WFM 91.7 Women’s Radio), Barr. May Agbamuche Mbu (National Commissioner, INEC), Dr. Aituaje Irene Pogoson (Department of Political Science, University of Ibadan), Chinyere Ukpokolo (Women Research and Documentation Centre, University of Ibadan), Aye Georgina Dakpokpo (National Chairman, Young Democratic Party), Cynthia Mbamalu (YIAGA), Monica Frassoni (ECES President), Dr. Olajumoke Yacob Haliso (Department of Political Science and Public Administration, Babcock University), Mrs. Mufuliat Fijabi (Chief Executive Officer, Nigerian Women Trust Fund), Mrs. Chioma Ukwuagu (Gender Advisor, IFES), Barr. Festus Okoye (National Commissioner, INEC), Mr. Monday Osasah, Dr. Lydia Umar (Executive Director, Gender Awareness Trust), Dr. Asmau Maikudi (Resident Electoral Commissioner, INEC, Zamfara State), Prof. Remi Sonaiya (Professor of French Language and Applied Linguistics), Mrs. Ekaette Umoh (President, JONAPWD), Abiodun Essiet (Young Female Politician).
Some recommendations reached as a result of the discussions and issues raised at the workshop included:
1. The need to establish a network for women domiciled in the Nigerian Women Trust fund
2. The need to remove barriers for voters
3. The need for further voter education for women and sensitization for women to vote for women
4. The need to re-strategise in voter education to reach the class of educated voters who though have their PVCs, have no intention to vote
5. The need for women to join, be active and occupy executive positions in political parties
6. The need for federal and gender character
7. The need for legal frameworks that will address women specific issues
8. The need to monitor political parties to ensure they adhere to guidelines and rules
9. The need for women to properly engage the traditional and new media
10. The need for women to leverage on hubs and networks to achieve electoral success
11. The need for women to actively build strong team and also get the buy in of other men
12. The need to advocate for more women to participate in election duties such as security, reporting, observing, etc.
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