As INEC Launches Its Gender Policy, INEC Chair Calls On Political Parties To Increase Female Participation In Elective Positions

Nov 25, 2014

Following months of rigorous consultations with relevant stakeholders, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) finally unveiled its Gender Policy to the public on 25th November 2014.

The INEC Gender Policy was launched on day two of the Women and Elections conference. Speaking at the event, the INEC Chair, Professor Attahiru M. Jega called on political parties to support female participation in elective positions: “Women should not be reduced to only voting and supporting male candidates win elective positions. Instead opportunities should be created that are favorably biased towards women to ensure that they hold elective positions. The status quo regarding the dismal and gross under representation of women in elective positions cannot continue to go on” Professor Jega said.

Professor Jega further said the launching of the INEC Gender Policy was good for Nigeria as it will only strengthen the country’s democratic process. “The launching of this Gender Policy therefore, reaffirms INEC’s commitment to leave the democratic process much better than we met it.”

In addition to institutionalizing the Gender Policy within the Commission’s programs and staffing cadre, INEC has identified four implementation objectives of the policy namely:

a)      Ensuring that INEC policies, plans, processes and operations are gender responsive;

b)      Encouraging gender equity and balance within political parties, especially in the identification of candidates in line with the provisions of their statutes;

c)       Increasing budgetary provision and mobilizing partners to effectively provide funding for gender sensitive actions within their purview and

d)      Supporting an enabling legislative environment to achieve gender equality and bridging gaps in political representation in elective posts at all electoral levels

The gender policy itself will be implemented for four years after which it will be reviewed to incorporate lessons into the design of further interventions in the policy.

Speaking at the occasion, the Minister of Women Affairs and Social Development, Hajiya Zainab Maina called on the INEC Chairman to urge political parties to reserve a mandatory 35% of all elective positions exclusively for women.

Despite Nigeria’s large population, Mrs. Maina said “women’s participation in politics and decision making has been dismal. In the 2007 general elections, only 7% of the elected positions were occupied by women while the situation in 2011 wasn’t much better with a marginal increase to 8%.

At the event, the Project Director of the Democratic Governance for Development (DGD) Dr. Mourtada Deme expressed DGD’s commitment to support INEC’s work to achieve its goals. “The work that INEC is doing is consistent with our vision of reducing inequality and exclusion” Dr. Deme said.

If Nigeria is to alleviate poverty, overcome corruption, educate children, provide quality healthcare, make neighborhoods safer and create a more stable economic environment, according to Dr. Deme, the society and indeed the political actors should pave way for equal opportunities for women.

The launch of the INEC Gender Policy was supported by the Democratic Governance for Development (DGD) project in Nigeria.

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