The Nigerian Women’s Trust Fund with the support of the Canadian Fund for Local Initiatives (CFLI) is expanding the space for women to participate in the democratic space through the Strengthening Women’s Political Participation Project in Kogi State which launched through a series of activities on its creating spaces project launched in July 2017 in Lokoja, Kogi State.

So far, the project has held capacity building for female politicians, a mentorship program for political protegees, a recruitment process for and leadership training for fifty (50) women, media engagement with print, television media houses, advocacy engagement with party and market women, professional women groups, political leaders and other stakeholders in the state. The leadership, party and politics engagement training is part of strategies mobilise and build a network of women in Kogi State who will engage the polity, lead the awareness on women’s representation in decision making and run for office themselves.

Chief Executive Officer of the Fund, Ms. Olufunke Baruwa during her welcome remarks noted the dismal index of women in politics and elected office in Nigeria and the absence of women in the state parliament in Kogi State and charged trainees to disrupt the status quo and ensure women are in the state parliament as representatives. She emphasized the need for deliberate attempts to engage with existing political frameworks which are fundamentally unfavorable for women’s representation.

The High Commissioner of Canada to Nigeria, HE Mr. Christopher Thornley in his goodwill message drew on the Canadian experience and encouraged women to change the narrative. He highlighted roles women have played in shaping the country’s modern democracy and further urged trainees to organize themselves into a formidable women groups that will serve as agents for sustainable development. In the same vein, Barr. Ebere Ifendu, President of the Women in Politics Forum (WIPF) also shared her experience as an active member of the Labour Party to influence internal democracy to build political party structures that are favourable for women.

The workshop was followed by a live call in program focusing on the project at Grace FM Radio Station, Lokoja with Mrs. Bello, a female politician, a mentor Harirat Yakubu, Barr. Ebere Ifendu, President, Women in Politics Forum and CEO NWTF Olufunke Baruwa.