The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), has frowned at what it described as the unacceptably low participation of West African women in politics.
President of the ECOWAS Female Parliamentarians Association (ECOFEPA), Senator Stella Oduah disclosed this in an interview on the sidelines of the ongoing First Ordinary Session of the ECOWAS Parliament.
The interview is aimed at heralding the summit of ECOFEPA scheduled for Monday and Tuesday. A summit which Oduah says will be an opportunity to further address the plight of women in politics.
Oduah who is the chairman of the Committee on Cooperation and Integration in the Nigerian Senate, said that it was particularly appalling that the level of women participation has been dwindling across West African nations in the last decade.
She attributed the non-participation of women in politics to lack of capacity stressing that women must be empowered to actively participate in politics.
With particular reference to her country Nigeria, Sen. Oduah said that women participation at the national level had dropped to a meager 6 per cent.
“The disparity that we have; where women are barely participating in politics, is increasingly getting worse.
“Nigeria today, at the national level we have 6 per cent, that is totally unacceptable. In some other African nations, you have barely above that.
“A few may have accomplished more than that but ultimately we want to have collective accomplishment of nothing less than 30 per cent.
“What is important to us is that for that to happen we have to empower women.
“Those women that live in rural communities and have the capacity should be given the opportunity to represent their people and be the month piece of their people and participate actively in issues that concern their people.
“That is what ECOFEPA is trying to accomplish. And to ensure that we have the legal framework in doing so, we are working to have the enabling laws in all countries.
“Se we are appealing, we are advocating and we are sensitizing collectively to have that showcase in itself.
“We are women that have capacity, we are women with aspiration to participate in politics and in the affairs of our people,” she said.
Speaking more on the summit, the ECOFEPA President who is a former Minister of Aviation in Nigeria, said that the even was about sensitization and advocacy for greater women participation.
She said that ECOFEPA was advocating for emancipation, women empowerment and for truly getting women to fully participate in politics.
Oduah insisted that without empowering women. It would be difficult to get them to participate in politics stressing that empowerment was the bedrock of women participation.
“Women must be empowered to participate in politics. This will ensure that we mainstream the affairs of ECOWAS women and girl child to ensure that our capacity is properly utilized for the betterment of ECOWAS Nations.
“If we fail to do that we would be under utilizing our collective effort and capacity,” she said.
As part of the summit, ECOFEPA will be awarding some notable Nigerians including Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and former Head of State Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida (IBB).