As campaigns gather momentum ahead of the 2023 Nigerian elections, UN Women has invited Nigerian men to advocate for women’s political participation and leadership in Africa’s largest democracy.

UN Women Nigeria and ECOWAS representative Beatrice Eyong made the call Tuesday in Abuja at a special call called ‘HeForShe event; Promotion of political participation of women in Nigeria.’

The program was organized by the Center for Democracy and Development (CDD), UN Women and the Government of Canada.

The HeForShe campaign is a global movement that started in 2015 with the United Nations with the goal of engaging one billion men and boys on the issue of gender equality. In Nigeria, the campaign was launched in 2017 by then interim president Yemi Osinbajo calling on men and boys across the country to champion the cause of gender equality and advance women’s rights in government. .

“HeForShe is a commitment to advocate, lead by example, actively mobilize and take action to expand the community of men and boys working to advance gender equality and women’s participation,” said Ms. Eyong.

Panelists at the HeForShe event

“It is a call for a partnership with women to build a more just and equal world, including in leadership and governance.”

She added that the solidarity movement is a fundamental part of efforts to promote gender equality and women’s political participation in line with the Sustainable Development Goals, which include the commitment to end discrimination and unequal access. to justice and participation in the political and economic life of the country. gender by 2030.

“The need for the HeForShe global campaign stems from the realization that while there has been progress in some areas of our efforts to advance women’s rights, gender equality and participation, the gaps remain unacceptably high,” she said. Mrs. Eyong.

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In his commentary, keynote speaker Jibrin Ibrahim, a development consultant and political science professor, said that Nigerian women suffer deprivation, exploitation, marginalization and high-level violence by society.

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Citing data from the European Union Fact Sheet on 16 days of activism, Ibrahim said that many of the conditions for women in Nigeria today are the same as they were in 1982.

“The level of violation of women’s rights in Nigeria is extremely high,” she said.

The EU fact sheet noted that one in three women suffers a considerable level of violations of their rights: physical, sexual and mental. Likewise, 50% of women suffer violations of their rights at home, and one in six schoolchildren and girls also suffers violence at school. Likewise, two out of three women suffer violence from their husbands or boyfriends.

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What is discouraging about the situation is the level of impunity in which such deprivation and violence occurs, Ibrahim said.

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The EU report noted that only 0.9 percent of offenders who violated the integrity of women and girls make it to a court of law.

If women’s conditions are so bad in Nigeria, Ibrahim said, “it’s because women are not at the table where decisions about their lives are made.”

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Panelists at the HeForShe event
Panelists at the HeForShe event

He cited EU data saying since 1999: “only 20 percent of women have been ministers and special advisers to presidents; the average of female legislators is 7%; only 3 percent of local government presidents have been women and members of the state assembly, respectively.”

This is totally unacceptable, Mr. Ibrahim concluded, adding: “as men, we should pride ourselves on being agents of change in our society, and any society that promotes equality among its members is superior to societies that do not.”

For her part, Kole Shettima, country director for the MacArthur Foundation, said the role of religious leaders in enabling women’s participation in politics is critical.

“Religion has greatly affected the participation of women in Nigerian politics. Many religious leaders have interpreted that women cannot be leaders and that they cannot allow women to be leaders,” Shettima said.

The interpretation of religious texts is a critical part of the discourse, said Mr. Shettima, who called for a broader engagement with religious bodies across the country.

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