The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), yesterday, kicked against what it described as marginalisation of women in the political space, imploring political parties to give preference to the gender during their primaries.
It underscored the need for women to break the barriers of being just aspirants to contestants, while advising women to be conscious of the electoral strength they possess, given their population.
INEC National Commissioner, Prof. Kunle Ajayi, who made the appeal in Lagos at a workshop for gender desk officers across the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), supported by the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES), regretted that women were only being used for political rallies.
He argued that the active participation of women in politics would strengthen the nation’s democratic process, pointing out that the electoral umpire had begun the process of gender inclusiveness by creating a specific department to achieve the goal.
Deputy Country Director, IFES, Obaje Ukeh, said one of the tests of democracy was the participation of marginalised groups in the electoral process and the mechanism that allows them to participate and increase their engagement.
In his welcome address, Acting Director, Gender and inclusivity, Dorothy Bello, said following the adoption of the INEC gender policy in 2014, the commission “progressively embarked on the application of gender perspectives in its internal policies, plans and operations.”
She stated that the commission went ahead to ensure a comprehensive review of the document in 2021 to identify its strengths and weaknesses in implementing gender equity and to engender a more inclusive electoral process.