EU Calls for Women’s Participation in Politics

The European Union delegation to Nigeria has urged political parties to implement robust measures and strategies aimed at enhancing women’s participation and representation in governance. This call was made by the European Union Ambassador to Nigeria and ECOWAS, Samuela Isopi, during the Women in Parliament Summit held in Abuja as part of the International Women’s Week celebrations.

Isopi emphasized the crucial role of women’s active involvement at all levels of decision-making and political processes in achieving equality, sustainable development, peace, and democracy. She noted the urgency for political parties to undertake a comprehensive review and reform of their foundational documents, including constitutions, manifestos, party rules, procedures, and strategy documents. This revision should incorporate both national and international norms and obligations pertaining to gender equality.

Furthermore, Isopi stressed the importance of fostering an inclusive political environment that encourages and supports women’s participation and leadership. She called for the implementation of concrete measures aimed at overcoming the barriers that hinder women’s access to political positions and decision-making roles.

In conclusion, the European Union delegation reiterated its commitment to supporting initiatives that promote gender equality and women’s empowerment in Nigeria. Isopi emphasized the need for sustained efforts from all stakeholders, including political parties, to advance women’s participation and representation in governance for the betterment of society as a whole.

She said, “The ongoing constitution reform process presents an opportunity to adopt an inclusive legal framework that promotes equal participation of all Nigerians regardless of gender, ethnicity, age, and disability status.”

“In Nigeria, the advocacy for women’s political participation has been long-drawn, and in spite of the very dynamic”

“For example, women’s representation in the 10th National Assembly is 7.4 per cent out of 469 combined seats in the Senate and House of Representatives.”

“There has been no woman elected governor in Nigeria’s 25 years of democracy, and the percentage of women appointed to political positions still falls significantly short compared to men. I am not quoting these figures to make it seem impossible, but to show that it is indeed possible.”

“It is recognised that political parties are the ‘real gatekeepers’ to women’s political empowerment. If the political parties institutionalise gender equality measures and transform from within, it will have a direct impact on women’s equal participation and representation in Nigeria.”

Ambassador Isopi urged political parties to set women’s representation in their decision-making bodies, such as the National Executive Councils and directorates for elections, at not less than 30 per cent, which is regarded as a critical figure for women to have any influence.

“The political culture in Nigeria is underpinned by patriarchy and the ‘unwritten’ rules on male privilege within political parties. Oftentimes, only women whose husbands support them or have a legacy of family political activism make it to the top.”

“On our part, gender equality and women’s rights are top priorities of the European Union. This is true both internally and regarding the EU’s approach to international cooperation. To achieve this, the EU launched its third Gender Action Plan on November 25, 2020.”

“The Gender Action Plan aims to help establish a gender-equal world where women and girls enjoy their human rights in full and fairer societies, in which everyone has the space to thrive with no one left behind.”