Election as we all know is about voting for a credible candidate into power to leader the nation into sustainable development. It ensures that good governance is in place while making decisions through policy formation that concerns every citizens of the country. For proper people centered policies and decision to be taken, voices of women must be adequately represented. The low level of women’s participation in decision-making structures in Nigeria alarming and disturbing. This hinders women from contributing their quota to the development and consolidation of democracy in Nigeria.The low numbers of women elected into public office in Nigeria’s recent elections reflect the slow pace of change and drop in the country’s legislative, political and social systems.
In 2011 election, 200 out of 2400 (8.33%) candidates for the House of Representatives and 80 out of 720 (11.11%) candidates for the Senate were women. overall, 909 out of 10037 (9.06%) candidates for all elective positions were women. These positions include the Presidency, governorships and parliamentary seats. There has been an overall regression in women’s representation in political decision-making positions. Seven out of 109 (6.42%) senators elected in 2011 are women compared to 9 (10%) in 2007, while only 12 out of 360 (3.33%) members of the House of Representatives are women, down from 26 in 2007. Out of Nigeria’s 36 states only one – Lagos State- voted in a woman deputy governor, and no woman was elected governor.
While women are largely invisible as political candidates, they are often active in campaigns for men, organizing events, cooking and mobilizing. Women need to be sensitized to support women candidates more.
Characteristics of women that can come into play in elections:
- Population: Women account for more than half of the population of Nigeria; this is a great advantage for women to take over the mantle of leadership of the nation. Not getting involved would mean that a large section of the population has been left out from governance. The more population of women, the better advantage of electing a credible candidate.
- Co-creator: This gives them the opportunity to have advantage over their children and even their husbands. The children listen to them and comply with their decisions.
- Physical and mental nature: even as weaker vessel, this makes it easier for them to gain attention coupled with their tender hearts which would not want to see people suffer as such, they can ensure that the plight of the people are properly addressed. They have a better chance to deliver on their political promises.
- Peace makers: they discourage violence because of their children, more so, they understand better what pain is all about and can ensure that the election is peaceful by discouraging violence among their children or to be used as thugs.
- The nerve system of every home: the eyes in which the home see, the nose in which the home smell; the leg in which the home walks etc.
- Planners and Managers: they are good at planning and managing resources. knows how a proper budget can be developed and implemented to ensure value for money spent. They always have a good reason to spend.
Challenges of women’s participation in elections
Violence and related malpractices, Corruption, Harmful cultural practices and stereotyping, Undemocratic activities within political parties, Absence of political will/desire, capital, Coordination, network and mentoring
Why should women participate?
To ensure Justice for all, Credibility and Accountability of resources, Effective service delivery, Growth in economy, implement the rule of law
- There is need for an effective legislation to eradicate election violence and capital punishment for corrupt practices
- Ensure implementation and enforcement of the law
- Introduce reforms in the structure and organization of political parties and to ensure that the party adopts a candidate selection procedure which favours women.
- Strong legislation that will remove money politics
Among the tools for increasing the number of women in politics is lobbying, activism, negotiation, advocacy, debates and media
To overcome some of the identified challenges, there is need to have more public dialogue on this topic to empowered and educated more women to compete favourably with men. For any organization or institution to succeed, a team is needed, if women are not adequately represented and involved in that team, that organization may not achieve it goal. If women are not adequately represented in Nigeria governance and leadership, the desired change cannot come to play.