Ahead of the 2023 general elections and the apparent need for women and youths to be actively involved, a Kaduna-based non-governmental organisation (NGO), Legal Awareness for Nigerian Women (LAWN/LEADS) under its six-month “We-You-PRO” project has organised a three-day workshop for women and youths on how to advocate and lobby for political positions.
The project being implemented by LANW/LEADS and funded by the Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) of the United Kingdom through ActionAid 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.
Speaking with journalists on the sidelines of the workshop, which was tagged women and youth-led policy and manifesto dialogue, the project coordinator, Hannatu Ahuwan, said one of the key objectives of the event 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 mobilise 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 charter 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 actualise their aspirations and we hope it will improve their chances of being involved in politics as we approach 2023.”
Also speaking, some of the participants, Hon. Mercy Markus and Comrade Benjamin Bako, said although they have been in politics for a period of time now, the workshop and issues discussed were eye-openers that will help them to be more active politically for better results.
For her part, Hon. Rhoda Giwa, she said the workshop couldn’t have come at a more better time than now that preparations towards the 2023 general elections were in top gear.
Also sharing her political experience with participants, the current serving and only female lawmaker in the Kaduna State House of Assembly, Hon. Comfort Amwe, urged young aspiring female politicians not to be intimidated by the men but to be focused.
Hon. Amwe who has served in various elective and appointive positions, told the participants that politics is all about doggedness, determination and commitment and not for the lilly-livered people or those that easily get discouraged.
“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 N100million and I spent just about N2.5million 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? but I was committed and it paid off,” Amwe said.
Earlier, the 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.”
Mr. Williams Biya and Paul Onwude who were resource persons took the participants through various sessions and topics during the interractive workshop.