Published On: Sun, Mar 2nd, 2014

Olejeme Calls for Increase Participation of Women in Democratic Process

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Dr Ngozi Olejeme

By Oghenekevwe Laba
LAGOS MARCH 2ND (URHOBOTODAY)-Delta State Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Governorship Aspirant, Dr Ngozi Olejeme has called for increase participation of African women in democratic process.
Making the call in a paper titled, “The Role of African Women in Promoting Development in Governance” delivered at an Interface between Peoples Democratic Institute and International Community at Abuja recently, Olejeme said increase in women involvement in democratic process is essential in broadening and deepening the commitment of the societies to democratic governance.

According to her, “African women have proved over the years that they can be trusted as they have delivered in several areas they had occupied in government. The intention here is not to mention names, but to assert the necessity of increasing the number of African women in decision making positions, their increase in parliament and other governmental positions”.
She lamented that the place of the African women in systemic development has not been properly captured and therefore remains unappreciated because of primordial perceptions about women.
Olejeme disclosed that several conferences have been organized to discuss issues relating to democracy, development, security and peace, adding that what these conferences failed to highlight was to recognize the linkages between gender and development.
“The African woman has been a major target of extreme forms of violence in the region. Women in the horn of Africa have experienced the full impact of violent conflicts as civilians and combatants. But the truth remains that they are usually excluded from the decision making processes that ignite wars or put an end to hostilities”, Olejeme who is the Chairman of Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF) disclosed, adding that women generally remain absent from policy dialogue with government on ethical issues for peace and security that have fundamental gender dimensions and implications for sustainable stability.
While arguing that African women should go beyond asking for 35% participation in democratic process, she argued that the absence of the African women from political decision making has a negative impact on the entire process of democratization as it undermines the fundamental concept of a democratic form of governance.
Consequently, she demanded for the need to create gender balance in all bodies and measures put in place to advance the rights of women in politics, clearly defined programme with robust women’s agenda targeted at literacy of the African women, health, income generating activities for women, micro credit, prevention of violence and gender justice.
“The African women should be supported during campaigns and should be helped to increase their capabilities in the areas of negotiation and legislation. Governments within the region must demonstrate a political will to promote gender equality by playing a catalytic role in gender mainstreaming across all sectors of government. Civil society organisations should also come in by documenting the experiences of women ex-combatants and identify measures to reintegrate them into the society.
“Organize public discussions and lobby for women to participate and hold decision making positions in all committees and commissions. Promote gender-awareness campaigns to develop an understanding among women and men of which women’s participation is a key component of good governance,” She advised.

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