European Union (EU) Delegation to Nigeria and ECOWAS has urged political parties and other stakeholders in the country to think outside the box on ways to ensure increased participation of women in politics.
Head of EU group, Ambassador Ketil Karlsen, made the call at â€œStakeholdersâ€™ Roundtable with Policymakers on Improving Womenâ€™s Political Participation and Inclusionâ€™â€™ in Abuja.
The roundtable was organised by House of Representativesâ€™ Committee on Women in Parliament in conjunction with the Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre (PLAC) and the EU.
Karlsen said that there was still a wide gap in women participation in politics in Nigeria.
â€œI am encouraging everybody to think out of the box, think of new ways of engaging women in politics, how to engage the young women movement and ensure that women have real opportunity of engaging in politics,” Karlsen said.
He said that a lot could be done structurally to secure necessary positions for women in all aspects of the society, in governance and in political parties.
â€œIf there is a will there is also a way to do it.
â€œThere should not be an excuse that the women themselves are not ready or do not have the qualifications or intelligence, power or vision to contribute, because they do.
â€œOn the contrary, we are in a situation where we are losing out the opportunity, where we are having contributions from a very significant number of people in Nigeria.
â€œSo, my hope is looking into next elections; decisive steps would be taken. It is an opportunity for political parties and leaders to show resolve and to open up for having more participation for women and youths.
â€œBeyond that, there should be reforms that would help them in the long time,â€™â€™ Karlsen said.
He commended the organisers of the event, saying it was another opportunity to engage in dialogue.
The EU official called on the participants to reach out to the grassroots.
He said that democracy should not be about getting into power but about what the power should be used for in terms of providing real and tangible solutions to problems facing citizens.
He said that EU was supporting ongoing processes to support Nigeriaâ€™s democracy for more inclusion and more participation.
In his remarks, Speaker of House of Representatives, Mr Yakubu Dogara, who was represented by Hon. Joan Mrakpor, advised women not to see politics as something different from other professions.
Dogara said that if women could excel in other professions, they could also excel in politics without depending on men to hold their hands.
He also called for emulation of actions such as framework and appointments that would encourage more women participation.
â€œFor instance, the governor of Delta, Ifeanyi Okowa, made it mandatory that all local governments in the state must have a woman as deputy chairman, while certain number of councillorship seats were reserved for women,â€™â€™ Dogara said.
The Executive Director of PLAC, Mr Clement Nwankwo, said it was unacceptable that women who constituted more than 52 per cent of Nigeriaâ€™s population would be excluded from decision-making and governance.
Nwankwo said the aim of the roundtable was to improve on women participation ahead of 2019 general election.