Ahead of the 2023 elections in Nigeria and Kaduna State in particular, Legal Awareness for Nigerian Women (LAWN/LEADS) under its six-month “We-You-PRO project had equipped a group of women and youths on advocacy, lobby and other communications strategies.
The project which is being implemented by Legal Awareness for Nigerian Women (LANW/LEADS), funded by the Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) of the United Kingdom through Action Aid International, Nigeria, was developed to contribute to inclusive and responsive democratic processes and outcomes through citizens led actions towards the 2023 general elections in Nigeria.
Resource persons at the meeting used paper presentations, brainstorming/ plenary sessions/ consensus building, experience sharing and action planning to guide the participant through the six months the project will last – from October 2021 to March 2023.
Speaking in an interview with newsmen shortly after day-one of a 3-day woman and youth-led policy and manifesto dialogue held at a hotel in Kaduna between November 16-18, Project Coordinator, Hannatu Ahuwan said one of the key objectives of the 3-day dialogue meeting was to facilitate dialogue towards identifying the issues affecting women and youths participation in political and governance processes in Kaduna state.
According to her, “research has shown that we have low participation of women and youths in political space and governance – decision making in general.
“So, the “We-You Pro” project is trying to see how we can build support as we move towards another round of politicking in 2023 and see how we can mobilize women and young people coming together to advocate within decision making space through the political parties, through governance in general.
“In this particular meeting, we will look at the issues that have been limiting women and youths from participating maximally in governance and come up with realistic solutions to these issues.
“When that is done, we hope to come up with a document like the chatter of demand which the women and youths will use to mobilise for advocacy, lobbying and campaigns to see how the space can be widened.
“At the end of the day, participants will develop an action plan which will help them to actualize their aspirations and we hope it will improve their chances of being involved in politics as we approach 2023”, she said.
Sharing her over two decades political struggle with younger intending politicians on day-two of the meeting, the only female lawmaker in the Kaduna State House of Assembly, Comfort Amwe, urged young aspiring female politicians not to be intimidated in any way.
The erstwhile local government chairman and commissioner for women affairs in Kaduna state shared how she overcame intimidations when taken to courts on several occasions whether in elective or appointive positions.
“This LEADS trainings have helped me all along my political pilgrimage and you should not take it for granted. As you are acquiring knowledge to get ready for your political journey, you must be kind to all people irrespective of their status. Respect men very well because they will be there for you when you need their support even when you don’t have money.
“There was a time my opponent spent more than N100 million and I spent just about N2.5 million and I won that election leveraging on goodwill. You can see that if it were to be about money, how could I have been able to win? She asked.
Earlier, Village Head of Kujama, Chikun local government area of the state, Anthony Samari said, “for us to have smooth governance in Kaduna State, women and youths must be carried along as seen being done by the current administration in the state.
“To make this happen, there is the need for a political and legal environment for youths and women participation. For example, the executive arm of government and political parties should adhere to available laws and policies as well as improve on these laws and policies whenever the need arises.
“We have also noted that finance, cultural norms and religious values are some of the issues hindering women and youths from actively involved in politics. The people in this category need to go for massive lobbying and advocacy to get the buy-ins of all the stakeholders”, he said.
An experienced female politician, Honourable Aisha Ahmed noted that women and youths’ inclusion in politics is germane, “some of them are afraid to come out to exercise their ability and capability in governance.
“We are mentors who are saying let the voices of women and youths be heard and respected. Without women and youth involvement in governance, Nigeria will not move”, she warned.
Executive Director, Women with Disabilities Self-reliance Foundation, Risikatu Toyin Muhammed expressed optimism that the coming together of people with disabilities, experienced female politicians and young women and men, “our voices would be heard loud and clear. So, we expect men and women with disabilities with capabilities to come out for elective positions as we approach 2023 politicking”.