How women can clinch more elective positions in 2023 — Ex- Gambian VP
NNN: Fatoumata Tambajang
A former Gambian vice president, Fatoumata Tambajang, says Nigerian women need to be deliberate when participating in elections and map out clear strategies for success.
Fatoumata was speaking at a forum in Abuja on Friday, which was also attended by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the Women in Politics Forum.
Participants strategized on ways women can win elected office in the 2023 elections.
Organized by Democracy and Development (CDD) on “Women and Electoral Policy in 2023: Setting the Agenda.”
The event also saw the release of a report questioning 20 years of democracy.
Tambajang said that a woman who wants to participate in decision-making has to develop an agenda, have diplomacy and must have a constituency of men, women and youth.
“On the issue of Nigeria today, due to the bills that have not been adopted, I would like to recommend that a strategy be developed for 2023.
“You have to identify competent women among you and build a coalition among women, forget about yourselves and your sense of differences and work for the empowerment of women.
“They also have to identify men from different levels, including the executive, and then have their conferences; bring men and women together to vote for women.
“One of these strategies is that you have to be brave to tell men that if they don’t put us in government if they don’t give us a chance in politics, we’re going to have a professional challenge, that is, we’re not going to vote for the men”.
Tambajang said that when women threaten men with losing their numbers in elections, they would conform because no political party would want that.
She also advised women to take advantage of the laws and statutes adopted by Nigeria and then use them as a basis for holding them accountable.
Tambajang also urged Nigerian women to mobilize millions of votes both live and online to submit to all arms of government.
“That way, their voices would be heard too,” he said.
Dr. Sintiki Ugbe, Director of Humanitarian and Social Affairs of ECOWAS, said that Africa is a region where women have not really participated in politics.
The director said that ECOWAS had therefore devised a strategy to deal with it.
Ugbe said that different barriers ranging from cultural and religious beliefs to income inequalities are some of the main obstacles hindering women’s participation in politics.
“You will be surprised to know that of the 15 countries that we have in West Africa, nine have some kind of legislation or seats reserved for women, but where is Nigeria? Nigeria is not among them.
“If you’re a member of a community, how come you have nine that have some form of affirmative action and quota systems and we as Nigerians don’t have any form of affirmative action or quota?
“Senegal is going ahead with its gender parity law, Guinea is there with its parity law, Rwanda is there, Cape Verde is there, they are all members of ECOWAS.
“I think that is not impossible to achieve in Nigeria, which is why ECOWAS devised the gender and elections strategic framework so that our member states can know that there are 10 areas that they need to work on to ensure equal participation and representation.” ‘
Ugbe said that with ongoing mentoring and leadership programs, women would be well-equipped with the right skills to compete for leadership positions.
One legal practitioner, Frank Tietie, advised women to take advantage of existing laws and the constitution to claim their rightful place in politics.
Tietie, who is also executive director of Citizens Advocacy for Social and Economic Rights, encouraged women to establish women’s political parties to compete for elected office.
She said that section 40 of the constitution empowered Nigerian women to form an all-women political party.
This, he said, would give them some kind of power and voice in the political sphere.
She also urged the women to raise funds and enlist the support of Nigerians so that the official limitations they experience are reduced.
The president of the Forum for Women in Politics, Ebere Ifendu, said that affirmative action would have helped marginalized groups to participate in politics, but was rejected by the Assembly.
Ifendu said that all the parties that had held conventions had not given women reasonable positions.
“The consensus does not favor women, so far all the parties that have held elections still do not have enough space for women, only the position of women leaders; we were targeting the work committee.
“It shows that women still need special seats through affirmative action and the way things are going, the 2023 election could still see a low level of women in politics if no deliberate steps are taken.
“This is where the legislation would have helped us because all political parties would have been forced to consider special seats for women to participate.”
Ifendu said the country was going through many challenges, but some of them were due to not having enough women in government.
She called for support and collaborative effort to improve the participation of women in politics so that they can contribute their own ideas, experience and increase the effort for national development.
Mr. Austin Aigbe, Senior Program Manager, CDD, said the program was organized to support women’s participation in politics and devise strategies to increase their participation in the 2023 election.
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