From Ahmad Mohammed, Bauchi
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has observed that women in Africa are always relegated to the background during election in spite of their contributions to the socio-economic development of nations.
State INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) for Bauchi State, Ibrahim Abdullahi, stated this in his opening address at a one-day seminar on mitigating violence against women in elections held on Monday in Bauchi.
Abdullahi said that instances abound in the political sphere where women are physically assaulted and psychologically violated, citing as examples late Benazzir Bhutto and Hajiya Gambo Sawaba, adding that harassment of Senator Remi Tinubu at the National Assembly was another typical example of physical violence against women.
He saluted the courage of Nigerian women for moving ahead to enforce their rights to fair political participation in spite of all odds, pointing out that since democracy is about participation and good governance, no segment of the democratic society should be excluded.
Abdullahi said that electoral violence against women is damaging to democratic societies, especially in a country like Nigeria that have attempted inclusive governance, declaring that, “it should therefore be addressed and ultimately prevented as failure to do so is likely to result to minimal participation of women in the electoral process and voter apathy in the process as a whole”.
He said that the commission values women participation in the electoral process and through the gender unit has created a platform for women as its own contribution to fighting gender-based violence.
The REC said that the agenda of the seminar was to enlighten participants and rub minds on how gender-based violence is likely to cause physical, sexual or mental harm in the electoral process and how to totally eradicate, curtail or make it less severe.
He then emphasized that violence against women is a grave violation of human rights as its impact ranges from immediate to long term repercussions with multiple physical, sexual and mental consequences, saying, “therefore, it is imperative for all hands to be on deck to fight this monster especially during the elections”.
Executive Director, Development Exchange Center (DEC), a Bauchi based NGO, Titi Yakubu, while presenting a position paper at one-day seminar organised by Bauchi state office of INEC on mitigating violence against women in election held on Monday, lamented that violence against women remains a serious obstacle to the realization of women’s political rights.
She said because political violence has adverse impact on women during elections period as political tension during election can create vulnerabilities for women in political participation and result in women exclusion from the process.