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Canada donates N2.6bn to advance women participation in Nigeria’s politics

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Canada donates N2.6bn to advance women participation in Nigeria’s politics

The Government of Canada on Monday announced a donation of N2.6 billion (about  eight million Canadian dollars) for the advancement of women participation in politics in the Nigeria.

Canadian High Commissioner to Nigeria, James Christoff made this known in Abuja during a high-level dialogue with traditional leaders, organised by the Office of the UN Resident Coordinator to Nigeria and the UN Women.

The Voice Media Trust (VMT NEWS) reports that the high-level dialogue by the UN agencies seeks to urge traditional leaders to intensify efforts toward ending violence against women in the country.

Christoff, represented by Ms Djifa Ahado, Head of Cooperation, Canadian Embassy Abuja, said that the funds would  be contributed for a period of four years under Canada’s Advance Women Political Participation in Nigeria project.

Christoff said that Canada and the UN recognise the important role traditional leaders play as custodian of tradition, hence the need to indulge them in advocating for women’s rights.

“Canada strongly believes that supporting the empowerment of women and girls is the best way to embrace peaceful and a more prosperous Nigeria.

“Having women at the table to play a critical role in decision making, especially at the political level is a key priority. As custodians of tradition and culture, we recognise the strategic role that you can play as traditional leaders.

“To create an enabling environment by embracing positive attitudes and questioning negative stereotypes of women in politics and encourage women participation at all levels.

“Through this project to advance women political participation in Nigeria, Canada is contributing eight million Canadian dollars, that is, 2.6 billion naira over four years to increase the participation, election, and appointment of women in Nigeria both in the 2023 electoral cycle.

“As traditional leaders, we enjoin your support to advocate for women support in the coming elections, use your influence to promote violence free elections and denounce violence against women,” Christoff said.

Mr Matthias Schmale, UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator to Nigeria, said that the full and equitable participation of all citizens, including women, was essential to building a strong, vibrant and inclusive democracy in Nigeria.

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Schmale said that it was on that note that the UN agencies with the support of the Canadian government organised the dialogue with traditional leaders just six months to Nigeria’s 2023 general elections.

“The full and effective participation of women in governance and decision-making opportunities is globally recognised as a key driver in achieving Sustainable development.

“Women constitute half of the population of Nigeria and contribute significantly to national and economic development.

“Unfortunately, their participation remains insignificant in the formal and informal structures of government where decisions regarding the use of societal resources generated by men and women are being made.

“Women’s ability to participate in politics are being hampered by numerous constraints. Negative stereotypes, sometimes perpetuated by culture and tradition lays a real and significant role in women political marginalisation.

“Violence against women in politics and in elections must be addressed with a sense of urgency, especially as we approach the 2023 elections.

“Royal Highnesses and Majesties, you are key to shifting social norms and driving the critical change needed to end electoral gender-based violence and enhancing women’s participation in the upcoming elections,” Schmale said.

Ms Beatrice Eyong, UN Women Representative to Nigeria and ECOWAS, said that Nigeria had been an active democracy since 1999 without women actively participating in politics.

She, however, noted that traditional rulers ould play critical roles in changing this narratives, being protectors of their subject.

“From 1999 elections till date, we have seen only a marginal increase in the number of women representatives in elective and appointive positions.

“There has, however, been higher inclusion of women in the private/ banking sectors. if we extend this to other sectors, we will see better results.

“Traditional rulers can play sensitisation of their communities against these different types of violence against women, organise strong advocacy campaigns with government and political parties for appropriate laws, policies and protective measures.

“Enact traditional legislation to prevent, fight, judge, and punish perpetuators, organise meeting with women aspirants, support gender responsive electoral management, promote political education of women, girls, men and boys in their communities,” Eyong said.

Speaking on behalf of the traditional rulers, Alhaji Yahaya Abubakar, the Etsu of Nupe,  pledged their commitments toward ensuring active participation of women in politics, especially during 2023 general elections.

Abubakar said that after the dialogue, they would come up with a strong communique which would be presented to the relevant authorities for the next line of action.

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