As 2019 elections draw near in Nigeria, Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) , local and international development partners are collaboratively working toward ensuring that effective and efficient security apparatus are put in place to properly shield women – electorates and aspirants from electoral violence across the country.
Speaking at a CSOs’ Dialogue organized by Women International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) in collaboration with Women’s Situation Room Nigeria and other CSOs working around women rights and Freedoms in Nigeria such as Dorothy Njemanze Foundation, Arike Foundation amongst others in Abuja yesterday, in commemoration of the 16 days of activism campaign as a platform for an in-depth discussion on the implementation of the UNSCR 1325 and other related resolutions on Women Peace and Security focusing on the elimination of violence against women, Joy Onyesoh, Country Director, WILPF said there is need for the women in Nigeria to restrategise and be proactive towards eliminating violence against women before, during and after elections in Nigeria.
Citing recently concluded gubernatorial elections in three states in Nigeria – Osun, Anambra and Kaduna where cases of outright exclusion, coercion and assaults on women were recorded as examples of what may likely happen at the General elections come 2019, Joy said until women in Nigeria collectively stand up against electoral violence it will continue unabated.
“Already, in Nigeria, the background has always been built on muscline ideology, and because it has muscline ideology we need to collectively deconstruct that ideology, and construct new ideology which is complimentary- having men and women participating without any form of discrimination, where one role will not be considered more valid than the other.
“Although the system has been built to stifle women’s right to speak and be heard, still we must keep pushing”. She affirmed.
Onyesoh who doubles as the National Coordinator, Women’s Situation Room Nigeria added that the Dialogue was aimed at engaging and lobbying stakeholders to build commitment by supporting the security agencies particularly in the area of intelligence gathering which would help expose sinister activities that may lead to violence before, during and after elections.
“We mustn’t leave the security agencies to do all the work, we must always see ourselves as number one stakeholder in this fight against electoral violence which doesn’t only affect women but negatively imparts on our society”.
She further urged the CSOs leaders at the dialogue to desist from working in silos and consider more collaboration with other women in CSO as it helps in facilitating better outcomes particularly in advocating and promoting women participating in governance.
“To achieve better and quicker outcomes in our pursuits as women advocating for better inclusions, we must quit working in silos. We must ensure effective collaborations amongst ourselves”
She added that forging a common front by critical mass of women coming out together to deconstruct the current system in Nigeria that is replete of inequalities is the only way to end violence against women in elections.
“Can you imagine a political party with a woman as the chairman and 60 percents candidates as women, then it becomes a movement and it cannot be ignored”
“Currently in terms of advocacy and sensitisation, we have done a lot, still I believe there is more to be done. We won’t rest on our oars until women are given their rightful place in the scheme of things” she remarked.