The member, representing Oluyole Federal Constituency at the House of Representatives, Hon. Tolulope Akande-Sadipe has said it is difficult to ignore the current low representation of women in Nigerian politics.
She raised her concerns at a one-day roundtable organized by a non-governmental organization, the Women Advocates Research and Documentation Centre (WARDC), in Lagos, on Friday.
The program had as its theme, “Role of parliamentarian in ensuring gender and social inclusion for growth and development.”
In her keynote address, Akande-Sadipe noted that Women occupy only a small percentage of seats in the National Assembly and state houses of assembly.
She further raised concerns about the decline in women’s representation, and the barriers faced by women in competitive politics in Nigeria.
Mrs. Akande-Sadipe, who is the only female Federal Lawmaker from Oyo State noted that the journey towards gender and social inclusion, is filled with challenges.
She persuaded the Federal, State and Local Governments to help confront deep-rooted cultural norms, discriminatory practices, and biases that hinder progress towards a fairer society.
Hon. Akande-Sadipe said as a parliamentarian, she has a profound responsibility to represent and advocate for the diverse needs and aspirations of her constituents, including women.
“We must also acknowledge that achieving gender and social inclusion requires an intersectional approach that recognizes and addresses the interconnected systems of disadvantage faced by women of different backgrounds”, she said.
Speaking further at the symposium organized in conjunction with the Canadian government and United Nations, Mrs. Akande-Sadipe said in the National Assembly, which consists of the Senate and the House of Representatives, women occupy only a small percentage of seats.
“In the Senate, women hold 3 percent of the seats, 3 seats, and in the House of Representatives, they hold 4 percent of the seats, 15 seats. This decline in women’s representation is disturbing and highlights the challenges and barriers faced by women in competitive politics in Nigeria. This means policies or issues regarding women could be easily swept under the carpet”, she revealed.
She also stated: “The situation is not much different in the state House of Assembly. Out of the 1,019 females who contested in the 2023 state houses of assembly elections, only 48 women won, representing a success rate of 4.7 percent. This number increased slightly compared to the 2019 election but is still far from achieving proper representation. The 2023 elections saw a total of 1,553 women contesting various positions, including presidential, gubernatorial, and legislative seats. However, only 72 women were elected at the federal and state levels, representing a low percentage of elected women candidates. We would agree that both figures are low, and women currently represent less than 10% of the key positions in Nigeria politics. Hence the need to activate our superhero spirit”.
To enhance women’s representation in politics, Akande-Sadipe advocates that all hands must be on deck, urging women to take concrete steps to overcome these gaps, fill in the numbers, and ensure that they have equal opportunities to participate and lead in the country’s decision-making structures.
By doing so, she said Nigeria can tap into the potential of its female population and foster more inclusive and effective governance.
“We must be resolute in identifying and dismantling the structural barriers that hinder women’s political participation. As lawmakers, tackling discriminatory laws and practices and challenging traditional gender norms that limit women’s roles in public life should be integrated into our core objectives”.
“Our women policymakers should be equipped with legislative ninja moves and public speaking magic, ready to conquer any challenge that comes their way”, she added.
She further appealed to Government and decision makers to encourage female representation in decision-making bodies.
Akande-Sadipe said this will enhance women’s leadership, political participation, and representation in governance.
“To achieve true gender equality and social inclusion, we must actively work towards enhancing women’s leadership roles in politics and governance”.
She posited that Nigeria could take a cue from fellow African country, Rwanda, who possibly has one of the highest percentages of women in parliament globally. The country’s policies on gender-based violence, land rights, and education reflect a strong commitment to women’s empowerment.
She thanked the organizers of the gathering, saying it reflects the collective commitment of women to advance their political empowerment in Nigeria.
She concluded that to achieve a more equitable and just society, gender and social inclusion must be prioritized.
“When we empower women and promote their active participation in politics, we unlock the potential of half our population, leading to sustainable growth and development”, she ended.