By Angela Atabo
Stakeholders in the electoral sector have called for more reforms towards boosting the participation of women in politics.
The stakeholders comprising journalists, Civil Society Organisations (CSOS), National Orientation Agency (NOA), Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), and security agencies, said this at a one day advocacy meeting on Monday in Abuja.
Ms Zainab Tanko, the Programme Officer, NWTF, said that the meeting was organised after a Test of Voter Registration Toolkit Survey, carried out by the organisation during the Nov. 11 Kogi and Bayelsa election.
Tanko said the survey was to identify challenges hindering women’s voter registration in elections.
She added that the pilot test of the voter registration toolkit survey in Kogi and Bayelsa, sought to evaluate its effectiveness in uncovering barriers to women’s voter registration.
She said that the study identified physical, legal, educational, socio-economic, instructional and financial barriers.
”We have recognised that there are existing obstacles hindering women voter registration. That is their right to even register before they go out to vote.
“These barriers not only deprive women of their voices, but weaken the fabric of our democracy.
“In the face of these challenges, we stand united in our resolve to enact meaningful reforms and pave the way for a more inclusive electoral system as we embark on this collective journey tilted towards building steps for reforms.
“Let us remain steadfast in our commitment to promote gender equality, strengthening our democracy and building a future where every Nigerian woman can proudly claim her place in shaping the destiny of this nation,” she said.
Tanko also stressed the need for stakeholders to synergise towards working out a resolution to boost women’s political participation especially by getting them registered first with ease.
“There is need to get women registered, so that in the future when there are more women in political positions or movement advocating or vying for political offices, we can back them up with our numbers,” she added.
She said that stakeholders recommended increase in the number of registration centres in different locations and communities with a view to making them easy to be accessed.
She said this was imperative because creating more centres close to markets and other public places would reduce long queues experienced during registration because it discourages women.
She added that it would also reduce some financial challenges on women as they would not have to go very far to get registered.
“The call for the harmonisation of existing database among relevant stakeholders like INEC, National Identity Management Commission, National Institute for Legislative and Democratic Studies (NILDS), banks, Nigeria Immigration Service is also paramount.
“Having a continuous voter registration is also key, so INEC needs to ensure the implementation of the law for continuous voter registration and not the periodic process we currently practice,” she said.
The meeting was organised by the Nigerian Women Trust Fund (NWTF), with support from the National Democratic Institution (NDI). (NAN)(www.nannews.ng)
Edited by Deborah Coker/Ali Baba-Inuwa