Participants’ Views on Gender and Elections in Lagos
21 March 2013
Participants took away so much from facilitators as well as other participants through passionate and dynamic interaction.
However, the following ‘Learning Outcomes’ were outstanding and no beneficiary will be in a hurry to forget.
• Of the about 30 participants, none had undergone the BRIDGE Module training before now, making the experience novel, worthwhile and exciting.
• For participants interested in training, the use of Key Understandings and Learning Outcomes would be adopted as good practice.
• The use of facilitators from within and outside Nigeria enriched the training as examples and comparisons of issues and practices aided learning depicting that gender issues and perception of women are similar in Africa. Particularly because these facilitators are from Africa, the examples they enacted were relatable, believable and most importantly, are practices that can be replicated here in Nigeria.
• The first session on sex and gender gave a clear distinction between these two concepts. Many institutions have portrayed the concept of ‘gender’ as a combative, confrontational concept which is based on war against men in a bid to make women equal to men. But the BRIDGE workshop helped to clarify this, explaining that gender activism is not a war against men, but a fight to ensure that men and women operate on level playing field. That men and women should be given equal opportunities and that neither men nor women should be discriminated against on basis of their gender
• The session on Legal instruments clearly explained that gender activism does not exist in a vacuum. Rather, it is based on legal framework that is supported by international, regional and national instruments which Nigeria is signatory to, hence, bound by. However, there is still a need for domestication of these laws in Nigeria.
• The session on Electoral cycle shows that there are obstacles in every segment of the electoral cycle but the participants submitted that all the obstacles are surmountable. However, in order to overcome these obstacles, CSOs must work round all the periods of the cycle. Learning on the Election Cycle drew participants’ attention to the post election period which is usually not focused on.
• Against popular believe that younger people learn better as an exclusive group, this workshop clearly shows that young people tend to learn more and better when put together with experienced and older practitioners.
• The use of various energizers by facilitators kept the class lively and facilitated participants knowing themselves more.
• Right from the get-go, this workshop has adopted the use of exercises, group work and quizzes during and after each session. This has helped test understanding and it would go a long way to help keep those lessons learned in mind.
• The first fascinating thing about day 2 of the bridge workshop was that ‘participants’ became ‘facilitators’. There was much excitement when we had a panel of Dr Lydia Umar, Mrs Mufuliat Fijabi and co-facilitator Mrs. Margaret Ukwunjwa, who came to share with us gender issues in relation to the constitution, leadership and the role of the EMB in all of this. This session was very inspiring and it further strengthens the need for all CSOs to study relevant legal instruments in order to know the provision in them, because without this, advocacy will not be effective.
• The lessons learned on gender in Nigeria from a team of 3 did not only educate facilitators from outside Nigeria but also participants. Highlights were on the need for increased advocacy on the constitution reform, women in leadership and elections
• Advocacy should be intensified on the adoption of proportional representation as done successfully in other countries.
• A lot of disaggregated data on women in National Parliaments exposed the backward position of Nigeria with only 6.6% women in their parliaments while Rwanda has 56%.
• Participants wished the twinning approach can be adopted as a form of Affirmative Action to temporary increase women’s participation in both elections and appointments.
• Focus was to get participants begin to think outside the box, go beyond workshops to thinking of strategies and frameworks that would be integrated in our daily work with Change and Impact being the key.
• Most participants knew of international and regional instruments on the promotion of gender equality but little or nothing on instruments that contain standards on women in electoral process.
• Very important aspect of today’s session is the ability to appreciate the different variables of an electoral system. Ballot structure, formula and district size came alive. Now we have a better understanding of the type of electoral system we operate in Nigeria as well as in other countries of the world. The advantages and disadvantages are now known. Therefore, if advocacy will be done for a change of the current system being used in Nigeria, it will be an informed intervention.
• The next day started with a very exciting ice-breaker, which we fondly call the ‘never ASSUME game’ because ‘when you assume, you make an ass of both you and me’.
• So day 3 of the workshop was all about political parties. We learnt about the formation of political parties and the need to mainstream gender in political parties.
• The role-play/playlet on ‘registration of parties’ was very enlightening. We had the EMB and three political parties that tried to get their party registered. This was really exciting as we saw what requirements EMBs demand for before any party can be registered. We also saw opportunities for mainstreaming gender in party policies, constitution and manifestoes.
• At the end of the session we had the pleasure of having some women in politics, who came to share their personal experiences. They put a human face to all the deliberations we’ve been having for the past 3 days. We learnt that God-fatherism may be positive or negative. But this does not take the place of the need to mentor budding politicians
• The invitation and sharing of 3 female politicians afforded participants a glimpse into the reality that women in Politics face. They answered questions on dark areas and complained of the ‘pull her down syndrome’
• Message was women who want to be politicians must be focused to overcome sexual overtures of men, balance attention between their career and home to avoid losing any and the need for funding and god fathers unavoidable.
• The challenge to female politicians is to mentor younger women while women especially in CSOs are to give optimum support to female politicians
• A lot of work needs to be done with political parties to have a change of mind set of women more so that the Nigerian Constitution and laws prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex
1. Ojedele Rebecca
2. Tolu Alabi
3. Ibraheem Adediran
4. Lydia Umar