By Maryam Garba Hassan
Ahead of the 2015 general elections, the Federal Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development will soon commence the development of a national database on all women political aspirants for the 2015 General Elections, with a view to throwing its weight behind such women.
A statement issued yesterday in Abuja by Deputy Director Press at the ministry, Saghir El Muhammed, stated that the Minister of Women Affairs, Hajiya Zainab Maina, disclosed this yesterday in Abuja at a reception organised in her honor by her political associates, women politicians, family and management of the ministry to celebrate her conferment of a National Honor in the rank of Commander of the Order of the Niger, CON, by President Goodluck Jonathan.
According to her, the database will enable the ministry to effectively plan and monitor the progress of female political aspirants and take concrete steps to build their capacities for the election.
She therefore solicited the cooperation of state Ministries of Women Affairs and Social Development across the country to, as a matter of urgency, set up desks where all women political aspirants in their states will register their names and posts they are vying for, and forward same to the ministry for inclusion into the database.
The Minister said, “As Nigeria prepares to go to the polls by 2015, the Federal Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development has stepped up the momentum for achieving the 35 per cent Affirmative Action prescribed in the National Gender policy through advocacy and capacity building for female political office seekers through consultations, negotiations and lobbying.”
She promised to personally spearhead a national strategic initiative aimed at empowering female political aspirants with necessary skills and logistics that will guide them in articulating their campaign strategies towards greater participating and success at the polls, the statement added.
“That is why we are re-tooling the Zonal Women Political Training Centres to re-position them for the upcoming 2015 General Elections. We expect them to also mobilize women to use their votes wisely, and in the collective interest of womanhood and women development.
“Our foot soldiers will also identify and encourage women with the right credentials to contest political positions at all levels.
She observed that the low representation of women in decision-making means that the country is utilizing less than half of its human resource, stressing that this neither augurs well for development nor for democracy.
It is for this reason that she called for “the adoption of special measures, quotas and mechanisms for achieving minimum critical level of women in political offices, party organs and public life by pursuing 35% affirmative action in favor of women, in order to bridge the gaps in political representation in both elective and appointive positions at all levels of governance by 2015.
The Minister stressed the need for a level-playing field during the elections.
“I wish to call on our men who are our fathers, uncles, husbands and brothers to please give us a chance. All we are asking is a level-playing field and their support to be part of the project,” she stated.