Gender equality is more than a goal in itself. It is a precondition for meeting the challenge of reducing poverty, promoting sustainable development and building good governance.
A look at the poor representation of women in politics and governance has continue to position them as passive beneficiaries neglecting the fact that they have the right to vote and be voted for just like every other person. Knowing that Osun state election is around the corner, HFDI team led by John Akinpelu engaged selected representatives of women groups in a Focus Group Discussion which was held at Omobola Odutolu House, Osogbo, Osun State. Participants were given the ground to express their opinions on the current state of women representation in politics.
As a result, points like deep-seated cultural norms, tradition and religious beliefs were mentioned as factors contributing largely to the poor representation of women in governance.
John Akinpelu added that political party system to a large extent does not pave way to accommodate women due to the high cost of mandatory expression of interest and nomination forms, exorbitant election campaign costs and other monetary factors which form a part of the criteria to run for any political position through such party. In addition to funding, education and other related factors, electoral violence, and unfavorable institutional structures stifle the participation and chances of women winning elections in Nigeria. He added that at the community level, most women do not participate in election because they have been made to believe that such decision is only applicable to men as the family head and the few ones given the chance to vote are reluctantly participating because of possible violence against them.
He however encouraged women to always know that the right to vote and be voted for belongs to all Nigerians except when restricted by age. Speaking of GBVAW during election, he informed the participants that Hope for Family Development Initiative as a non-governmental organization is passionate about society improvement and gender equality play a major role in development especially in the aspect of good governance, and the organization has the capacity to put-in all measures possible to mitigate violence against women during election.
John therefore used the avenue to call on individuals, development partners, donor agencies and important stakeholders including national and international organizations to support HFDI with resources needed to actualize this.
As a result of the FGD, knowledge of the participants was improved and they indicated the commitment to exercise their voting right in the forth coming election as a way to speak up for themselves.