By Amos Aar
THE chairperson of the Benue State chapter of the Nigeria League of Women Voters (NILOWV), Mrs Irene Awunah-Ikyegh, has decried the low inclusion of women in governance in Nigeria in general and the state in particular.
Awunah-Ikyegh made her feelings known at a two-day stakeholders’ consultation on women inclusion and effective Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV) organised by NILOWV with support from Palladium and USAID-Scale on Thursday in Makurdi.
She also lamented that despite research evidence that the more women are included at all levels of leadership and decision-making, the better developmental gains for states and nations, the statistics of women inclusion remained abysmally poor in Benue and Nigeria.
“For instance, only eight out of 45 members of the Federal Cabinet are women, representing 17.8% per cent which is a far cry from the minimum expected 35 per cent as enshrined in the Nigerian National Gender Policy.
“In Benue, of the 30 members of the 10th House of Assembly, only two are women representing 6.67 per cent.
“Out of the 54 cabinet members of the state comprising Commissioners, Special Advisers and Senior Special Assistants, only nine are women representing 16.76 per cent,” Awunah-Ikyegh said.
She pointed out that not even one Person Living With Disability (PLWD) was appointed both at the state and at the federal level.
She stressed that researches had shown that women were key actors in early warning and response to violent conflicts, explaining that with more women in leadership positions, communities could witness an end to incidents of SGBV.
She commended Palladium, USAID and other partners on the SCALE Project in driving advocacy for effective response to SGBV.
In their separate goodwill messages, the Chairman, Benue Non-governmental Organisations Network (BENGONET), Mr Lazarus Mom and Management Staff, Civil Society Organisation in Benue, Mr Onah Adeyi, commended Palladium, USAID and NILOWV for their brilliant interventions aimed at tackling SGBV and increasing women inclusion in governance.
Also, Ms Jemimah Yaji, a PLWD, expressed joy that the organisers had recognised them, stressing that they hoped for the better.