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By Yakubu Salisu, Kano

A Non Governmental Organization, Centre for Information Technology and Development (CITAD) on Wednesday decried the Invisibility of Women in the decision making process of Nigeria as a country and it’s democracy at large.

The Centre stated that the situation is worrisome considering the total number of political seats won by women in the 2019 General Elections which stood at about 5% which is far less to what they had in the 2015 elections and it is a clear indication that the political arena of the country has become more intolerant of the women folks.

CITAD made their concerns known during a Webinar with the Topic: The Invisibility of Female Youth in the Youth Political Inclusion Discourse and What can be Done to Address it
supported by Rosa Luxembourg Foundation which featured two guess speakers and other notable participants from various fields of endeavors.

The Executive Director of the Centre, Y. Z. Yaú in his welcome remarks stated that the call for the inclusion of more women in politics and governance became pertinent for the country to attain true democracy.

He said that, women who constitute a large number of the Nigerian population have been relegated to the background despite their outstanding performances in the fields they have occupied hence the need for the call to carry them along to participate fully in decision making processes and matters that affects their lives.

In her presentation, Princess Hamman-Obels, Initiative for Research, Innovation and Advocacy in Development (IRIAD), said for democracy to function effectively, every group in the society must be involved in the decision-making processes. Thus, participation of all citizens in formal political processes is fundamental for democracy.

That despite the rising trend for inclusiveness, gender balance in politics is still far from reality in Nigeria as women’s political representation is still a major challenge because Nigeria still does not have a system that ensures and promotes political inclusion of women, looking at appointive positions, only seven women (17%) were appointed ministers following the 2019 elections consequently, Nigeria ranks very poorly, at 179 out of 187, based on the IPU’s latest ranking of women in national parliament

Furthermore that “even with this poor state of political exclusion among women, upon closer analysis it is evident that female youth have been excluded even further, of the seven women in the Senate and the 11 women in the House of Representatives, none is a young woman under the age of 35″, this shows that even the minimal level of female representation in parliament does not include female youth”, she added.

In order to address the single-axis analyses that have resulted in the invisibility of female youth, Obels explained that it is important to consider the intersection of age with gender, and the impact that this has on people who fall within these groups. Doing so will enable different stakeholders to make specific interventions that are aimed at improving the visibility of female youth.

That their recommendations for promoting the visibility of female youth are as follows; INEC, through its Gender and Inclusivity Department, should adopt an intersectional approach to conduct programmes targeted at female youth. National and state legislatures should consider the specific implications for female youth in any Bill aimed at promoting the political inclusion of either women or youth.

Political parties should actively encourage female youth to join their parties and run for positions. Government officials should adopt a deliberate policy to appoint a certain percentage of female youth into public positions, as well as review the National Youth Policy to make provisions for female youth.

Others are; CSOs should conduct trainings and advocacy addressed at the needs of female youth. Researchers should bring the concerns of female youth into the youth political exclusion discourse. The media should bring issues relating to female youth to the public’s attention.

The combination of these efforts from different stakeholders should ensure that interventions aimed at youth or women’s political inclusion are not dominated with the concerns of older women or male youth alone. The result should be an advancement of the position of female youth, which should in turn trigger a deeper level of inclusion and representation in Nigeria’s political process.

Also in his presentation, Aminu Ali, a lecturer at the Department of Sociology, Bayero University, Kano recommends some strategies to raise young women’s participation in the discursive space, politics and public life such as;

1. Countering stereotypes and prejudice against females and building their confidence to participate in political discourses through leadership training and political education programme. This will go a long way in enhancing their capacity for soft advocacy and direct action and, by extension, raise their visibility in the discursive spaces.

2. Dialogues, symposia and political education class on female-youth participation in politics should be organized to, among other things, identify passionate young females, who should be mentored by veteran women activists and those in active politics. This is with a view to expose them to strategies and methods used in different times and spaces by women to foster their participation in politics.

3. Capacity building trainings on communication skills and organization building and networking need to be regularly organized for young females. Structures for step-down training should be created, so that as many young females as possible would benefit from the skills and knowledge necessary for active participation in the discursive arena.

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