2023 elections: INEC unveils gender policy to brighten women’s chances, inclusivity

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From Romanus Ugwu, Abuja

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has launched revised Gender Policy (IGP) to brighten the chances of women participation and and inclusivity in electoral space ahead of the 2023 general elections. 

Commission’s chairman, Prof Mahmood Yakuku, in his address during the launch in Abuja on Tuesday, described it as a milestone achievement to strengthen the engagement of stakeholders on broad gender-sensitive issues in their mainstream operational and electoral plans and actions.

Represented by the Chairman Outreach and Partnership Committee (OPC), Professor Kunle Ajayi, he explained that the revised Policy will further boost the Commission’s electoral inclusiveness, commending the painstaking efforts from the Commission towards developing the revised document.

“Today’s public presentation of the INEC Gender Policy (2021-2026), is a celebration of yet another successful outcome of intensive and extensive engagements with our stakeholders which comprises political parties, MDAs, development partners, gender-focused CSOs and other leading gender experts to review, validate and recalibrate INEC Gender Policy guided by international best practices for a sustainable implementation for greater women participation as aspirants, candidates, electorate, observers and personnel in the electoral process,” he said.

Harping on the premium placed on gender mainstreaming and deliberate steps taken to work the talk, Yakubu recalled that the Commission in March, 2021 created the Gender and Inclusivity Department.

Organised with support from the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES),  Yakubu said:  “this was carefully taken by the Commission to give a special focus to electoral equity, fairness and inclusion, especially the universally recognised rights of the disadvantaged groups, including women to participate in the electoral space on equal basis by structurally addressing the impediments that hinder their effective participation.”

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While appreciating IFES for the support in actualizing the development and review of the INEC Gender Policy, he said: “we appreciate the invaluable contribution of IFES in bringing this pursuit to fruition. It has been a very rewarding partnership with your organisation with a long and rich history of purposeful engagements and collaborations that have positively impacted on the nation’s evolving democracy and its values.

“IFES technical support in the development of INEC Gender Policy, its subsequent review and other strategic interventions over the years have immensely enriched and stabilised our systems of elections and infrastructure,” he said.

In his goodwill message, the Country Director of IFES, Seray Jah, said the launch of the updated gender policy has set the tone for increased women’s engagement in politics in Nigeria.

“More so, the gender and inclusivity department and the Commission now have a solid document to back its financial demands and material resources that will enable them to achieve women’s participation in governance and electoral processes.

“This policy handbook is a powerful accountability and advocacy tool for the Commission as well as Nigerian women and will remain a key tool to realizing national development goals,”the Country Director added.

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