As Lagos LG Elections Holds, Group Calls for Gender Sensitivity

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Mary Ekah

As Logos State Independent Electoral Commission (LASIEC) elections into the office(s) of Chairmen and Counsellors in the 20 LGs and 37 LCDAs holds tomorrow, the need to observe elections from a gender perspective has become necessary as it is believed that the fear of real or perceived elections-related violence is a major deterrent for women’s political participation.

Speaking during the Women’s Situation Room Nigeria (WSRN) Stakeholders’ meeting held in Ikeja Lagos friday, the National Coordinator WSRN, Joy Onyesoh said that election observation from a gender perspective creates visibility for largely ignored gendered issues like long waiting times and its impact on men and women. “It brings to the fore voting patterns, gender bias and stereotype within specific context. Gender sensitive election observation builds synergy between government, media and Civil Society organizations. It also helps to promote participation of women in elections and creates an enabling environment for women’s rights to be actualized”, she said.

For these reasons, the Women Situation Room Nigeria would be on ground to observe the Lagos State LGA and LCDA Elections from a gender perspective as it hold today, July 22. Beyond the observers, any citizen is encouraged to call WSRN a toll free number: 0800 to report any incidents likely to lead to conflict. Serious incidents will be verified and passed on to the Nigerian Police Force or the Electoral Commission.

She explained further that WSRN objective entails, amongst other things, observing the different processes from voters’ registration, PVC validation and gender composition of electoral officials deployed to polling units, to accessibility of the polling booths for all including pregnant women, elderly and women with disabilities.

Onyesoh explained that Women’s Situation Room Nigeria is an early warning and rapid response mechanism against violence arising before, during and after elections, stressing further that WSRN brings the opportunity for Nigerian women to demonstrate that women are not just passive victims but are often determined and active stakeholders in ensuring that peace prevails in their country.

Onyesoh therefore called on the Nigerian Police to discharge its responsibilities without fear or favour while respecting the human rights and dignity of all persons, expressing the hope that INEC as an umpire in the process, would ensure timely take off of the election process and deploy a gender sensitive administrative team at each polling unit.

“We call on all citizens of Lagos state to exercise their civic responsibility knowing how important it is and make wise decisions. We implore everyone to maintain law and order and have zero tolerance for violence and finally we call on all candidates to be good examples”, she noted.