Inclusion of rural women in governance

Nigeria is still waking up to the participation of women in politics. During the 2019 general election, Nigeria recorded significant increase of women participation and representation in politics This is as a result of shift in thinking, awareness, campaigns and feminist movements in the country.

Most development organisations focus on women inclusion, as the development of a country is measured by the level of women participation and representation. Nevertheless, there are still barriers women in governance still encounter in their journey.

An equal representation of women and men at all levels of decision making guarantees better government. This is because women have unique perspective. Increased participation of women in decision making will create a new culture and shed new light on how power should be exercised.

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Women have a different vision and conception of governance owing to their gender conditions as mothers, wives and caregivers. Therefore, it is expected that their inclusion in governance will bring a special caring focus and humane values to mainstream politics.

They are seen as effective change agents at the rural level because of their strong views and invaluable suggestion in rural processes, which derives from their intimate knowledge of their environment. Their active participation in governance is essential in order to ensure that women needs and interests are been promoted and defended.

The limited representation of women in national politics and governance mirrors the status of women in local governance. Majority of rural women participate in community-initiated programmes and projects but their participation is limited to offering services without much power and voice to influence decisions during such participation. Indeed, if local governance is to be effective and to achieve its purpose of bringing governance to the local people, women must not be left behind. They must have a voice through their selection into key decision-making positions within the local governance space.

Harassment is one of the challenges hindering women in politics; they are harassed and intimidated by their political opponents which scare them away from the process.

Among the challenges is finance, education and time required for meaningful participation.

There are also customs, beliefs and practices embedded in the very patriarchal nature of our society that also work to affect women’s position in governance and visibility in other public engagements.

Women must be politically empowered individually and collectively for increased participation They should be enlightened to raise awareness of their limited participation and equip them with the confidence, leadership competencies, and civil skills needed for effective political participation.

Most importantly, women should be encouraged by friends and associates during their involvement in politics. Women feel comfortable to participate in activities when societies are not hostile to them.

Salmat Abdulwaheed,