International Women's Day: INEC To Engage NASS On Legislation To Address Under-Representation Of Women

The Chairman of INEC, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu addressed participants at the Commemoration of the 2024 International Women’s Day on 8th March 2024 at the Conference Hall. He stated, “The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is delighted to join the rest of the world in celebrating this auspicious occasion, not merely symbolically, but as a practical affirmation of our commitment to deepening gender equality, representation, relevance, empowerment, and a sense of belonging.”

He highlighted the main theme of this year’s celebration as “Invest in Women: Accelerate Progress” while the campaign theme is “Inspire Inclusion”. Inclusion has been a focal point of INEC's commitment, encompassing gender, youth, and persons with disability. The Commission has developed and validated its gender policy with the full support of stakeholders and is diligently implementing it”.

Prof. Yakubu emphasized, "It is not by coincidence that the two successive Secretaries to the Commission are women and that the present Commission deliberately created a whole Department of Gender and Inclusivity in 2021, dedicated to the promotion of inclusive representation in the workplace and the electoral process.”

He further disclosed, “Today out of twenty-four (24) Departments and Directorates at the Commission’s Headquarters, Eleven (11) representing forty-six percent (46%) are headed by women. We also have women serving as Administrative Secretaries in our State Offices and Heads of various Departments at the State level. There is also no State in Nigeria without women serving as Electoral Officers (EOs) in charge of our Local Government Offices.”

Prof. Yakubu stated, “In addition to departmental and other responsibilities, the Commission has also built and equipped a Crèche for the convenience of staff of all nursing mother’s categories’’. The Crèche was commissioned as part of this year’s International Women’s Day activities with intentions to extend such facilities to INEC state offices as funds permit.

In response to concerns about the low level of gender representation in elective positions nationwide, Prof. Yakubu pledged to engage the National Assembly to introduce affirmative action as part of electoral reforms to ensure greater representation of women, youths, and persons with disability.

He added, “In the weeks ahead, the Commission will engage the Senate and House of Representatives Committees on Electoral Matters to accelerate legislation on equal participation of women and other disadvantaged groups in the electoral/ political process and other areas of reform.”

In his welcome remarks, Prof. Kunle Ajayi, the Hon. National Commissioner and Chairman, Outreach and Partnership Committee (OPC), emphasized the pursuit of Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment (GEWE), urging the administration to consider women favorably in appointments and adhere to the National Gender Policy’s 35% affirmative action on women’s appointments.

Quoting the Chairman OPC, “The International Women’s Day not only marks the pursuit of Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment (GEWE) at the continental and global levels but also celebrates the achievements, impacts and successes of women at every level, especially; our own Electoral Management doyens here present in this hall today and all those who have honorably served the Commission in the past’’.

Meanwhile, Hon. National Commissioner May Agbamuche-Mbu noted the Commission's progress, highlighting the record number of female Directors in 2023 promotions. She observed that with “16 females out of 55 Directors, this seems like a far cry but compared to where we are coming from, this is a remarkable improvement. Currently, we have a total of nineteen (19) females, ten(10) of whom are Directors at the Headquarters, and nine (9) serving as Administrative Secretaries out of sixty-six (66) Directors, including those awaiting posting.

Another Hon. National Commissioner, Prof. Rhoda Gumus, commended women for the vital role they play in society, she urged women to be good examples for others to emulate. In her words “Wherever we find ourselves, we should stand out in terms of dignity. We should be a light to society, as we push for equality. God expects us to season the society”

In her remarks, the Secretary to the Commission Mrs. Rose Oriaran-Anthony expressed delight in the increased number of female Directors which she said had improved over the years.

There was a session for Knowledge and Experience sharing powered by Hajiya Amina Zakari, Mrs. Augusta Ogakwu, the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) Ondo State, Mrs. Oluwatoyin Babalola, Mrs. Regina Omo-Agege, Mrs. Blessing Obidegwu and Mrs. Roseline Ifeoma Ezeugwu. In their various addresses, they all echoed the Commission’s commitment to gender mainstreaming and encouraged younger women in election administration to remain dedicated, work hard, and aspire to reach the peak of their careers without fear of intimidation or marginalization.

The Director, the Gender and Inclusivity Department Mrs. Lakunuya Dorothy Bello while giving the Vote of Thanks appreciated the Chairman of the Commission for his unrelenting support to the Department. She assured the Commission that the Department will improve on the quality of gender inclusivity.

The high points of this year’s International Women’s Day commemoration included the unveiling of a photo book, a compendium of women who have served the Commission at the Management level, and those who are still serving. 

There was also the unveiling of a Giant Plaque that is a collage of women in Election administration as well as the commissioning of the INEC Crèche by Prof. Mahmood Yakubu.

Editor-in-Chief: Mrs. Mary Nkem  

Editor:  Mrs. Adenike Tadese 

Reporter: Patience George

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