Founder of Women for Peace, Justice and Human Rights Initiative, Barrister Tofi Sewuese Lynda, in this interview with Abuja Discourse on the new chat series on Women’s political participation in Nigeria discusses factors affecting Women’s political participation in Nigeria.
Why is women’s political participation important and how does it contribute to development?
Women’s participation in politics is important because, it will enable a better environment for all, and it will bring about more development, women participation will contribute in the development of the Nations as women are more accountable and dedicated to a course.
What are some of the factors that prevent Nigerian women from being actively involved in politics and holding offices and what can be done to change this?
The factors that prevent women from participating actively in politics are campaign funds, gender stereotypes and possibilities of violence. Empowerment and sponsorships can help to bridge the gap.
And we are beginning to see some empowerment programmes towards improving women’s political participation. Let’s talk about Affirmative Action (AA) which was formulated since 2006, we are however yet to see its full implementation, what in your opinion is preventing this?
The National Gender Policy formulated 35% affirmative action, yet women’s representation is less than 7% in Nigeria and my personal opinion on what can be done is to decide on the number of seats allocated for women representation in each zone and each seat should be supported with funding.
So, what steps can political parties take to ensure increased and inclusive political participation of women being that political parties are bedrock for political engagement?
The role of political parties is simple and straight, reserve seats for capable women to create impact and support women all the way to the grassroots participation to enable like minds join in the support and participation at all levels.
Earlier you mentioned gender stereotypes as a factor that affects women’s political participation, how do you advise women to handle those gender stereotypes when faced with them.
Gender stereotypes are unavoidable in the contemporary setting of our society; awareness of the masses especially in rural communities can help to explain and make people understand that the female gender is capable of delivering more dividends of democracy to the society, Awareness at all levels.
So, with more awareness comes less gender stereotyping which will create a conducive environment for women in the political space. In respect to you your profession as a Barrister, what would be the most important legal advice for women who intend to participate in politics?
My opinion is just straight and realistic because we have tried it, firstly every woman intending to join and participate in politics at any level or way must understand their environment, the needs and wants of such environment and be self-determined to pull through.
Another election year is around the corner, what should women who are interested in running for a political office be doing now ahead of 2023?
Elections are won through platforms and women’s only chances are to register with any political party, especially those with structures and funds, and then take the contest in primaries and general elections and still lobby for the appointed position because governance is not only elections.
You are the Founder of Women for Peace Justice and Human Rights Initiative, can you tell us about your organization?
Women for peace, justice, and human rights initiative is an organization concerned with the empowerment of women and girls in all aspects of life, we are currently into the enrollment of girls back to school and empowerment of women through skills acquisition.
We create awareness on issues affecting humanity at any time need arises, like the COVID-19 pandemic, awareness was carried out on preventive measures, distribution of nose mask and financial support for mothers who had children to feed.
This is really good, thank you for the work you do in building a better society for women and girls. Thank you so much for your time Barrister, before we draw the curtain on today’s chat, do you have any final words?
My final words are, women must remember that nobody will give them power for the basic reasons. Women must rise in one voice and unity to take what is theirs, through participation, monitoring, and support for each other.
Thank you Barrister Tofi Sewuese Lynda for an inspiring Chat Session on the first episode of Women’s Political Participation Chat Series.
Thank you for having me.