Ebonyi State women stakeholders have blamed the decline in the number of women who clinched elective positions in the 2023 general election on extreme violence.
They made the observation during a one-day stakeholders postmortem dialogue on August 8 in Abakaliki, Ebonyi State.
The stakeholders looked at assessing violence against women and women’s participation in the 2023 general election.
It was organised by the Women Situation Room Nigeria with support from Women International League for Peace and Freedom, Nigeria.
Participants, including Flora Egwu, Kelechukwu Okezie, Ugochinyere Ugwu and Margaret Oku, who shared their experiences from the polls, observed that the 2023 general election was characterised by unprecedented violence across Ebonyi State.
They decried the fact that though a woman was elected Deputy Governor in Ebonyi State, the number of women who clinched other elective positions in the general election grossly declined.
They noted that the level of violence, financial inhibitions and other discouraging factors before and during the elections generally inhibited women’s full participation in the electioneering process.
The participants, however, urged women to begin now to mobilise and engage toward better political bargain ahead of the 2027 general election in Nigeria.
They recommended a review of the law which empowers only the Independent National Electoral Commission chairman to prosecute perpetrators of electoral violence and other electoral offenders.
They also recommended deliberate legislation against high cost of nomination, expression of interest and other required forms for standing elections to make them affordable to women.
They further identified engagement with the men, formation of women cooperative societies to sponsor female contestants, aggressive sensitisation of women and high level advocacy as some of the strategies for enhancing women’s participation ahead of the next general election.
Speaking on the significance of the meeting, the Ebonyi State Coordinator, Women Situation Room Nigeria, Lorieth Nwafor, said it was aimed at reviewing the February and March 2023 general election and how to chart the way forward for women.
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Nwafor emphasised: “If we don’t have a background of where we are coming from, we may not know where we are going to and what needs to be done.
“Women have not done enough in terms of structuring themselves into the mainstream political system knowing that power is not something given but something to come out for, seek for in order to get.
“This calls for aggressive training and sensitisation of women ahead of 2027 general elections, so that we start early and not do a fire brigade approach.”
Stakeholders at the meeting were drawn from women groups, Civil Society Organisations, traditional rulers, the Clergy, INEC, security agencies as well as the media.