Nigeria: Affirmative action for women in politics

By Konye Obaji Ori

Posted on November 13, 2012 11:38

Despite Africa having seen two Nobel Peace prizes for women, a second serving female president and the first female head of the African Union Commission, the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap 2012 report indicates that 10 of the 21 countries with the highest inequality between men and women are in Africa.

Socio-cultural biases, high cost of contesting for public office, political violence and undemocratic party processes have been blamed for the failure by Nigerian women to win public office posts.

The country’s Women Affairs ministry has since been encouraged to take affirmative action to encourage the political participation of women, their representation in parliament and opportunities for them to govern.

Women Affairs minister Hajia Zainab Maina, told reporters in Abuja on Monday that the proposed constitution review should be explored to fashion out appropriate strategies that would ensure gender balance in political and social life.

The call for more qualified women in Nigeria’s public spheres follows progress made across the continent in the past 12 months, and is supported by the United Nations (UN), Women Advocates Research and Documentation Centre (WARDC) and the Gender and Constitution Reform Network (GECORN).

The visibility of women in public office is more pronounced in Rwanda with women making the bulk of the country’s Cabinet heads, which makes President Paul Kagame’s government the most female-dominated in the world.

In Nigeria affirmative action is expected to be taken by the National Assembly to address indigene matters and gender issues in the ongoing review of the 1999 constitution.

The West African country’s lower house has 352 seats, 24 of which are occupied by women.

Out of the 109 Senate seats, seven are held by women. Getting ready for your trip in Barcelona? We will make it easier with a scooter rental in Barcelona:

Other successes in Africa include Ellen Johnson Sirleaf – president of Liberia and Nobel Peace prize laureate, Joyce Banda – president of Malawi, Fatou Bensouda, chief prosecutor at the International Criminal Court, Nkosazana Dhlamini-Zuma – head of the African Union Commission, Liberia’s Leymah Gbowee – Nobel Peace prize laureate, and Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula – South Africa’s defense minister.

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