Minister of Women Affairs and Social Development, Sen. Aisha Alhassan, has urged political parties to consider gender quota system to increase women’s participation in politics.
Alhassan made the call when she visited the Chairman, National Caretaker Committee, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Sen. Ahmed Makarfi, at the party’s secretariat in Abuja on Monday.
She said that allocating quota to women in party leadership positions and in other strategic activities was important in raising women participation in Nigeria’s politics from its current low level.
She said that building on constitutional provision of equality regardless of sex, Nigeria through political parties could seriously consider adopting the “Voluntary Electoral Party Gender Quota System’’.
“This is a deliberate strategy of earmarking constituencies solely for women candidates.
“ This is a globally acclaimed and proven modality for promoting affirmative action without compromising on merit and competition as the best and most qualified women within the designated areas ultimately compete for available seats.
“In essence, parties will create through their zoning system or geographic areas, positions where women alone vie for election through the ballot,’’ the minister said.
She also stressed the need for provision of free nomination forms to women to ensure that they constituted at least 35 per cent of any party’s leadership.
Alhassan called for review of party constitutions to ensure that allocation of 35 per cent of leadership positions to women was reflected in the distribution of offices at the national, state, local government and ward levels.
She said that her visit was advocacy and that it was important, especially as preparations for the 2019 general elections was beginning.
She pointed out that from the lowest to the highest levels, women were often underrepresented in leadership positions and decision-making and were only sought after as electorate during electioneering and elections.
The minister stated that Nigeria urgently needed to fast-track increase in the representation of women in parliament and other decision-making organs.
In his response, Makarfi urged the National Assembly to take a second look at legislating on elective positions for women.
“I am happy that the National Assembly has what it has done in terms of participation of women in governance, leaving the elective position issues to political party.
“Leaving the elective issues to political parties may not achieve the purpose.
“If it is in compliance with the law, every party will want to comply, but if they make it flexible, that is an escapable route.’’
He said that the PDP would impress it on its members in the national assembly to ensure that they took a second look at the matter.
Makarfi promised to take the demands of the women to the party for consideration.