The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) says it has taken steps to boost women participation in the Nov.16 Governorship election in Kogi.
The commission’s Head of Gender Department, Mrs Blessing Obidegwu, disclosed this on Thursday in Lokoja.
Consequently, Obidegwu said, more women would participate in the election as voters, adhoc staff and election observers.
She spoke at a one-day sensitisation forum organised by INEC for selected young female voters, saying that two females were among 23 persons that would be contesting the governorship election.
She, however, said that female voters were free to vote for any candidate of their choice irrespective of tribe, gender and religion.
Obidegwu explained that the forum was organised for the young female voters to meet and share experiences and to build their confidence in the electoral process.
She reiterated INEC’s resolve to build a virile democracy based on egalitarian electoral system that would give equal rights to citizens.
The forum was organised by INEC in partnership with the European Centre for Electoral Support (ECES).
In his opening remarks, the commission’s national Commisioner in charge of partnership and outreach , Dr Adekunle Ogunmola , said that equal participation of men and women was very key to the success of the forthcoming election.
Ogunmola said that the sensitisation forum was designed for young female voters as part of efforts to enrich the electoral process and in line with INEC gender policy.
He lamented the decreasing number of women that emerged winners in the last general elections, saying that moves would be made to further mainstream them into the democratic process.
” The degree of which young women participate in politics can be strongly influenced by the policies and programmes of government, civil society , political parties and the commission,” he said.
Also speaking, the country’s Representative of ECES , Mrs Teresa Maurio, said that the group’s partnership with INEC was to ensure that women played active roles in the coming election.
Maurio said that young female voters would be encouraged to vote and serve as mobilisers in the election to enhance women participation.
” The women constitute an important segment of the voting population and for Nigeria with a youthful population, the participation of young women in particular to the electoral process,” she said.
According to her, this will ensure broad based participation and also promote gender inclusive electoral process.
She commended INEC for drawing participants from credible visible youth groups across the state and from tertiary institutions , saying that they would be encouraged to sensitise their peers in their respective localities.