Why women should be pro­tected dur­ing elec­tions

Sunday Trust - - VIEW POINT - Idris Mo­hammed, Pro­gram Of­fi­cer, Youth Ini­tia­tive for Ad­vo­cacy, Growth and Ad­vance­ment, wrote from Abuja

The value of po­lit­i­cal equal­ity is cen­tral to nor­ma­tive the­o­ries of democ­racy; it is ar­gued that women are also cit­i­zens by birth. Thus, there is a need for gen­der equal­ity. Since the re­turn of democ­racy in Nige­ria in 1999, women have been con­tribut­ing to elec­toral pro­cesses, yet not many of them hold elec­tive po­si­tions. But the ma­jor prob­lem is the vi­o­lence against women. In the just con­cluded pri­maries, fe­male as­pi­rants faced more chal­lenges com­pared to their male coun­ter­parts. Re­cently, the Na­tional Demo­cratic In­sti­tute de­signed and launched a cam­paign ti­tled: “Stop Vi­o­lence Against Women in Elec­tion” with the aim of doc­u­ment­ing and re­port­ing cases of vi­o­lence against women dur­ing elec­tions. In spite of all th­ese, women are still fac­ing vi­o­lence on daily ba­sis. Vi­o­lence against women takes dif­fer­ent forms and di­men­sions. The vi­o­lence can be phys­i­cal, psy­cho­log­i­cal or sex­ual.

There is no gain­say­ing that vi­o­lence against women is a threat to the in­tegrity of the elec­toral process. It can af­fect women’s par­tic­i­pa­tion as vot­ers, can­di­dates, elec­tion ob­servers, ac­tivists and po­lit­i­cal party lead­ers. There­fore, there is a need for women to be in­clu­sive in the demo­cratic process in Nige­ria. For this to hap­pen, stake­hold­ers must de­velop new strate­gies in pro­mot­ing peace­ful and vi­o­lence-free elec­tions. Also, women should be en­cour­aged to re­port is­sues of vi­o­lence against them to the ap­pro­pri­ate au­thor­i­ties.

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