In any given society, women’s full and effective political participation is a matter of human rights, inclusive growth, and sustainable development.
Given the fact that many countries have ratified international conventions and protocols on gender equality and women political participation, the low level of women’s representation in government and political offices may be considered a violation of women’s fundamental democratic rights.
In Nigeria, it is well known that the existence of social norms makes it more difficult for women to emerge in political public roles. For instance, the belief that women’s gender identity is still predominantly conceived of as being domestic in nature, continues to act as a barrier to women’s entry into formal politics.
Nigeria has a National Gender Policy and also the INEC Gender Policy which both make provisions to promote women’s participation in the political and electoral process.
There are prospects for further legislation and constitutional amendments on women’s rights to political participation before the National Assembly like has been done in Kenya, Rwanda, Senegal and Tunisia. These countries provide examples on how to further promote the right to political participation for women by providing some form of affirmative action, electoral quotas to ensure women can contest and win elections.
Section 42 Sub-Section 1 Paragraph (A & B) of the Constitution is to the effect that a citizen of Nigeria enjoys the right of equality and not to be discriminated on the basis of ethnic group, place of origin, sex, religion, or political opinion nor any form of discrimination.
Therefore one can go to court to seek redress, if as a woman your right to participate in election is violated based on the fact that the constitution prohibits discrimination on the basis of ones’ sex.
The political parties with national prominence in Nigeria have made special provisions to ensure the involvement of women in all areas of their activities ranging from the National, State, Senatorial, Local/Area Council and Ward Committees.
For example, The All-Progressive Congress Constitution (APC) 2014 recognizes this inclusion in several ways. They are:
Also, The People’s Democratic Party Constitution 2012 recognizes the inclusion of women in its affairs. As it appears as follows:
Even though every citizen is endowed to enjoy the right to political participation, general recognition of this right may not guarantee the enfranchisement of people with disabilities. Hence, the playing field should be levelled, and special provisions made to ensure deeper and enhanced political participation of people with disability.
The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) elaborates the right to participate in political and public life in the context of disability. State parties are required to guarantee that persons with disabilities have political rights, as well as the opportunity to enjoy them on an equal basis with others as stated in Article 29 of the CRPD.
The Convention specifies certain measures, but not limited to be taken to ensure that persons with disabilities can effectively and fully participate in political and public life on an equal basis with others, including the right and opportunity to vote and be elected. These include:
This further requires State parties to promote an environment in which persons with disabilities can effectively and fully participate, without discrimination, in the conduct of public affairs and to encourage their participation in public affairs, including:
The Discrimination Against Persons with Disabilities (Prohibition) Act, 2018 provides that persons with disabilities shall be encouraged to fully participate in politics and public life. In furtherance of this right, Section 30(2) further states that the government is saddled with the responsibility to create environments that would enable effective participation of persons with disabilities in:
The All-Progressive Congress (APC) has in its constitution given special regards to persons with disabilities to ensure their active participation by providing for the post of Special (Physically Challenged) Leader. This is seen in the constitution thus: In, Articles 12. 3(xxv), Article 12.4 (xvi), Article 12.5 (x), Article 12.6 (viii), Article 12. 8 (xxiv), Article 12.9 (xii), Article 12.10 (xv), Article 12.11 (viii), Article 12.13 (xxiv), Article 12.14 (xi), Article 12.16 (xxi) and Article 12.17(x).
Unlike other countries who have gone a step further, there is currently no special provision in the Nigerian constitution that mandates the equal representation of persons with disability in government.
However, Section 42 Sub-Section 1 Paragraph (A & B) of the Constitution is to the effect that a citizen of Nigeria enjoys the right of equality and not to be discriminated on the basis of ethnic group, place of origin, sex, religion, or political opinion nor any form of discrimination.
Therefore one can go to court to seek redress, if as a woman your right to participate in election is violated based on the fact that the constitution prohibits discrimination.
Young people are often systematically marginalized. They are often overlooked or excluded for positions as political candidates.
The National Youth Policy defines young people as persons between the age of 15 and 29. The Nigerian constitution provides that ‘every citizen of Nigeria, who has attained the age of eighteen (18) years residing in Nigeria at the time of the registration of voters for purposes of election to a legislative house, shall be entitled to be registered as a voter for that election.’
In a country like Nigeria with nearly 70% being youths below the age of 35, it is important that young people are represented in the country’s political system.
The Not Too Young to Run Act reduced the age qualifications for office of the President and membership of the House of Representatives and State House of Assembly. The House of Representatives and State House of Assembly was reduced from 30 to 25 years and the office of the President was reduced from 40 to 35 Years
The All-Progressive Congress also made provisions for youths in the APC Constitution at the National, state, Senatorial, Local, Zonal and ward level: Article 12.4(xv), Article 12.5 (ix), Article 12.6 (vii), Article 12.8 (xxv), etc.
The People’s Democratic Party also made provision for youths’ involvement at National, State, Ward and Local levels: Article 14(1)(k), Article 16(1)(p), Article 21(1)(k), Article 22(1)(m), Article 24(1)(r), Article 26(1)(j), Article 27(1)(o), Article 29(1)(l).