Minister wants electoral quotas for female candidates

The Minister of Women Affairs and Social Development, Senator Aisha Jummai Alhassan, has suggested the use of electoral gender quotas to boost women participation in all elections.

The minister spoke in Abuja at the National Secretariat of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) during one of her advocacy visits to political parties on behalf of women in preparation for the 2019 elections.

She said Nigeria faces an urgent need to “fast track” political participation of women and increase in the representation of women in parliament and other decision-making organs to produce results that adequately reflect a genuine commitment to the principles of equity in all its ramifications.

She said Nigerian women had not enjoyed their constitutional right despite the fact that the constitution guarantees equality for everyone in all spheres.

The minister, however, noted that in spite of the point that Nigeria has not yet achieved the target of women equality, especially in political participation, the conduct of party primaries and support of women candidates in the 2015 elections had inspired Nigerian women.

More efforts and support on the part of political parties, she added, are now required for women to cross the rubicon and push Nigeria into the league of gender responsive countries in the political arena.

She said the APC, other political parties and institutions responsible for women involvement in political leadership positions in Nigeria should make Women’s wings within political parties to be part of the political party decision making structures to overcome the obstacles to women’s participation.

Another recommendation suggested by the minister included the “establishment of women’s caucuses to provide structured support through training programs and also making workplaces more hospitable for women.”

Senator Alhassan also stressed the need for “fundraising for women political candidates; and giving training in the political process to women.”

She said the party constitutions should be reviewed to ensure that allocation of 35% of leadership positions to women is reflected in the distribution of offices at the national, state, local government and ward levels.

In his remarks, the APC National Chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, said the party might consider the possibility of raising the number of women participating in elections.