With support from the US Embassy in Nigeria, through the African Regional Democracy Fund (ARDF), The Nigerian Women Trust Fund (NWTF) launched    the  “Strengthening the Capacity of Women for Representation in Decision-making Processes” project. The main goal of the project is to strengthen the capacity of political parties through the development of realistic gender road maps and women for quality representation in decision-making processes.

The project launch took place in Abuja at Treasure Suites and Conferences, on 5 November 2019 during the implementation of the first activity of the project – Consultative meeting on Developing Gender Roadmaps for Political Parties.  The consultative  provided a very good platform for  interactive expertise opinions  on party specific gender issues, in order to aid the development of a roadmap tailored to the context and timeline of  political parties but in line with the National Gender Policy (2006) and all other relevant international and regional instruments that the country has consented to.

During her opening remarks , Ms. Mufuliat Fijabi, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the NWTF, reiterated that the gender gaps within political parties inspite of the provisions in some of the parties constitution bear on the inadequate inclusion of women and girls’ perspectives in policy making decisions, resource allocation and implementation in economic and social sectors continues to challenge the advancement of gender equality. She added that women are still far away from where they should be in terms of being part of decision-making processes.

Ms. Mufuliat noted on the launch of the project that in the course of the 24 months project, NWTF will be working with thirteen political parties who won elective seats at the 2019 General Elections with representatives at the national level, alongside women groups/networks and women in rural areas. “We want the political parties to implement the various provisions that they have in their statue at the different levels to be practicalized, to this end NWTF will be working with them to develop gender road maps that will be useful and implementable.”  

Ms. Mufuliat Fijabi, CEO-NWTF

Mrs Victoria Lair, representing the Honorable Minister of Women Affairs, Dame Pauline Tallen commended the initiative and recounted the ministry’s interventions through awareness creation and sustained advocacy to increase women’s participation in politics across  Nigeria. The Minister narrated the ministry’s engagements with political parties and traditional leaders during the build up to the 2019 General Elections where the crux of deliberations indicate that women should leverage on their numerical strength as a core strategy towards improving women’s representation in politics.She concluded by expressing the Ministry’s support for a successful implementation of the project in Nigeria

Also, at the meeting, Professor Anthonia Simbine – INEC National Commissioner, Election and Party Monitoring, noted that Nigeria is still characterized by gender inequality in almost all areas of human development. To this end, she reemphasized that the responsibility of ensuring more women into politics jointly rests with both the women movement and CSOs in the demand for inclusion.  Professor Simbine further stated. “A situation where a new political party without structures and with people who are not on the ground would say they gave women space to run during is not supportive enough to improve women’s representation”.

Iyom Josephine Anenih – Former Minister of Women Affairs and Social Development and national Woman Leader of PDP in her contribution buttressed that the long years of patriarchy has affected the level of unity amongst women because of the erroneous belief that only men can be leaders and women cannot be part of decision-making processes. Consequently, Ms. Anenih urged women groups and networks to begin to genuinely collaborate and mobilize towards a collective action to advance gender issues in politics. In her words “Women should come together and network strongly ahead of all elections in Nigeria”. Similarly, the Inter-party Advisory Council (IPAC) Chairman – High Chief Peter Ameh who was represented by the Secretary General of IPAC, Ms. Eunice Atuejide,  a female presidential candidate in 2019 General Elections  reiterated  IPAC’s support of any activity and initiative that helps to bring about more women in our political space both at the elective and appointive positions.

Cross session of participants at the meeting

The Gender Road Map will serve as a commitment driven document from thirteen political parties who won seats in the last General Elections in Nigeria to take collective action to address gender representation, and mutually pursue a supportive and accountable course of action towards gender equality in governance in Nigeria.