Towards Increasing Women In Nigeria’s Parliament

Globally, there has been an upward trend in the number of women in the decision making process. The number of women in  parliament has nearly doubled between 1995 and 2015, from 11.3 % in 1995 to 22.1 % in 2015  (ipu). While the inclusion of women in the decision making process has not reached the 30%  platform target as prescribed at the Fourth World Conference for Women in 1995, it is has been quite  remarkable.

Africa  has achieved some of the most dramatic breakthroughs seen over the last 20 years, Rwanda, with 63.8 %; Seychelles, with 43.8 %; Senegal, with 42.7 %; and South Africa, with 41.5 % (ipu).

In Nigeria, women account for only about 5.6% of seats in the House of Representatives and 6.5% in the Senate. Furthermore, Nigeria ranks 175 out of 185 countries in the classification of women in parliament. One wonders why Nigeria, where women make up half of the country’s population, is lagging behind.

While many have argued  the patriarchal nature of our society, finance, political parties, among other are the reasons why women inclusion in the decision making process is low, it is important to note Nigerian women hardly support themselves. This begs the question how can more women be included in the political process?

Dahlerup & Freidenvall (2003), argue quotas play a very important role in making women part of the decision making process.This i agree with,however, other measures should be put in place to ensure women are included in the decision making process.

Why do we need women in politics?

  • Women are highly committed to promoting national and local policies that address the socio-economic and political challenges facing women, children and disadvantaged groups.
  • Women are particularly effective in promoting honest governance. Countries where women are supported as leaders and at the ballot box have a correspondingly low level of corruption.
  • Women are strongly committed to peace building, as they often disproportionately suffer the consequences of armed conflict. Reconstruction and reconciliation efforts take root more quickly and are more sustainable when women are involved. By helping women become participating members of a democracy, one can look to mitigate conflicts or stop conflicts before they begin.
  • Women are strongly linked to positive developments in education, infrastructure and health standards at the local level. Where rates of gender development and empowerment are higher, human rates of development and standards of living are also higher (ndi.org).

Personally my argument for female inclusion in politics is simple. Only women know how women feel. How can a man begin to understand issues such as maternal health when he has never experienced these things?

Quotas have been successful in South Africa, Rwanda and Uganda. Why not Nigeria? As rightly stated by Hillary Clinton,woman rights are human rights. Thus, I believe the inclusion of more women in the political process  will no doubt promote around socio-economic development in Nigeria.The “type of women” is a discussion for another post.

What do you feel about women holding elected positions? Is Nigeria ready for more political women leaders? Will the adoption of quotas increase women participation in Nigerian politics?

Reference

Dahlerup, D & Freidenvall.L,  (2003).  Quotas as a “Fast Track” to Equal Political Representation for Women Why Scandinavia is no longer the model. Paper presented at the IPSA World Congress, Durban, South Africa, June 29 to July 4, 2003 and in the present updated version at the APSA Annual Meeting in Philadelphia, August 28 to 31, 2003.

ipu.org

ndi.org

quotaproject.org

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