Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, has declared that gender imbalance is militating against free and fair elections in the country, and therefore advocated for improved participation of women in the electoral process and in occupying elective positions.
The chief electoral umpire stated this at the commission’s interaction with Political Parties on Women Participation in the Electoral Process, with support from International Foundation for Electoral Systems IFES, USAID, UKAID and International Republican Institute IRI, which was held in Abuja recently.
He argued that: “we share in the concern about the growing imbalance in the percentage of women representation in elective positions of authority at all levels mainly because it undermines the true essence of representative democracy”.
Represented by National Commissioner, Anthonia Okoosi-Simbine, the INEC Chairman explained that the Commission’s concern is rooted in the fact that gender imbalance logically impinges on our claim of free and fair elections when the result shows glaring marginalisation along gender lines.
Professor Yakubu reiterated INECs resolve to foster gender responsive electoral system in the country through effective mainstreaming of gender in its plans, processes and programmes and the development of the INEC Gender Policy to articulate an institutionalised approach to gender mainstreaming in the management of the electoral process.
The INEC Chairman however averred, “the Commission is of the belief that a lot can be achieved if political parties show greater political will by supporting and considering women to enable them emerge as candidates in electoral contests and in the party structure.”
Meanwhile, Senate Committee Chairman on INEC, Abubakar Kyari, represented by Senator Olushola Adeyeye, hailed the contribution of women to national development, when he stated, “The Nigerian woman has always demonstrated zeal and enthusiasm in the electoral process since independence. Their support and loyalty to party and candidate has never been in doubt”.
“politics in Nigeria has always been seen as a game of the muscular gender, women politicians in Nigeria have suffered what I can describe as psychological backlash, where they are to be seen and not to be taken seriously in matters of leadership positions especially when it comes to elected positions at various political levels.”
“The time has come in this millennium that the political parties should not suffocate the women but rather boost trust and confidence in them. In my candid opinion, for women to be effectively and efficiently represented in Nigerian politics, there is need to first initiate a deliberate policy or even make laws that will allow them to occupy some sensitive positions in our political parties,” he said.

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