Group urges Rivers assembly to pass 35% affirmative action policy into law

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The Stakeholders Democratic Network (SDN) has charged the Rivers State House of Assembly to pass 35 percent affirmative action policy into law, lamenting that it still suffers set back, as there is no law backing it.

SDN insisted that if there were laws on the 35 percent affirmative action policy, the nation would have had more women in politics.It made the call during the presentation of a “Research Report on Women’s Political Participation and Representation in the Niger Delta” at the weekend in Port Harcourt.

Although in Rivers State, a woman is the deputy governor and several women are vice chairmen in the 23 council areas of the state, the group argued that women should not always take second place as they could take the lead.

Programme Manager of SDN, Florence Ibokabasi, said the research showed that heavy financial burdens, holding meetings at odd hours and at inconvenient locations during the night, prevent women from venturing into politics.

She urged government and political parties to be committed to implementation of the 35 per cent affirmative action and introduce policies that could encourage women to enter politics, which according to her, would give women access to key decision making roles and also elevate them to elective positions.

According to the new report released by SDN, which focused on Delta, Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa and Rivers states, political parties should make commitments to reducing discrimination against women candidates like holding midnight meetings.

Ibokabasi said political parties and the authorities should reduce financial barriers, which prevent women from entering into politics, as this could be achieved when parties provide free nomination forms and reduce the financial requirements for women.

“There is the need to establish and increase programmes to build women’s leadership skills and understanding of the political process,” she added.

She also urged governments to address the rising insecurity in the country, violence in the nation’s electoral process, which she said, usually scare women form participating in politics.

She said, “There is so much insecurity in Nigeria and that makes women to feel unprotected and as such there is the need to address this issue, because everyone is unsafe in the country.”

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