By Modupe Gbadeyanka
The need for more women to be involved in electoral process in the country has been emphasised by Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Professor Yakubu Mahmood.
This, Prof Mahmood said, the Commission has been working hard to achieve.
However, the INEC boss has commended political parties for the increasing opportunities given women to participate in the electoral process and contest elective positions.
He also commended women for their increasing interest in the electoral process and encouraged their greater participation.
Prof Mahmood gave the commendation when the newly elected executive of the National Council of Women’s Societies (NCWS), led by its National President, Gloria Laraba Shoda visited the Commission’s headquarters in Abuja.
He said INEC takes the issue of women participation very seriously, explaining that the Commission, soon after the FCT elections, was displeased about the absence of women in the 6 Chairmanship seats and 62 Councillorship positions contested.
The INEC Chairman disclosed that the Commission raised the issue with political parties in their last meeting and was pleased that there were visible changes in the forthcoming elections.
“We appealed to Political Parties to consider women in all forth coming elections. I am happy to report that the political parties have listened to our plea.
“In the forthcoming governorship election in Edo state, one Political Party has fielded one woman as governorship candidate, and eight Political Parties out of the 19 contesting in the Edo governorship elections have also picked women as their deputy governorship candidates. And we expect the political parties to extend the same understanding in the forthcoming Ondo governorship election and in all the subsequent elections,” he said.
On the issue of violence against women in elections, the INEC Chairman said: “the issue of violence across the board is a source of concern for the Commission but most especially against the disadvantaged groups and the women. We shall continue to work with you to remove all the obstacles to the participation of women in politics including the issue of violence”.
He added that: “As mothers, you also bear the brunt of some of the violence in some of the elections, we unfortunately lost some of our ad-hoc staff and these ad-hoc staff were your children, young graduates who have only recently graduated from the university and in the course of national service lost their lives”.
The INEC Chairman reassured the Commission’s guests that the Commission would always encourage women in every respect to actively participate in the electoral process, not just as voters but also as candidates. “That is why we have a whole Division dedicated to gender issues. When we talk about gender, we are basically talking about our women,” he said.
Earlier, the National President of NCWS, Gloria Laraba Shoda, said the purpose of their visit was to express appreciation for INECs work with women’s issues and to see where both organizations could continue to collaborate to continue to push for a better deal for women, as far as politics was concerned.
She commended the Commission for its commitment towards gender mainstreaming and its continued dialogue with Political Parties on the subject of gender balance within party hierarchy. “Through our collaborative work, we can achieve gender parity in political structures and further build women’s political participation,” she said.