From Aidoghie Paulinus, Abuja
As it marked the 25 years of its establishment, the League of Women Voters of Nigeria (NILOWV), has gone down memory lane, relieving its landmark achievements in the political and economic space.
President and Founder of NILOWV, Dame Esther Uduehi, while speaking in Abuja, recalled the words of late former Secretary General of the United Nations, Mr Kofi Annan that “there is no tool for development more effective than the empowerment of women, and no other policy is as likely to raise economic productivity, or to reduce infant and maternal mortality.”
Uduehi said NILOWV’s mantra of empowering women politically and economically for national development, the group believed, was key to Nigeria’s development.
Uduehi disclosed that NILOWV was founded in 1996 after the Beijing Conference of 1995 and was modelled after the League of Women Voters of America.
Uduehi stated that Nigeria being a very large country both in land mass and population, it took the association time and planning to establish the states and local government chapters and branches.
“But slowly and firmly, we tried and eventually succeeded in reaching out to all the regions by 2017. Thereafter, it became easier to reach the various chapters and implement our national and grassroots mobilization structures. We activated our membership drive activities, sought offices in all 36 state capitals, the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, and almost all the 774 local government areas, branches were established across the country. We appointed chairpersons to head each chapter, and they in turn, had the mandate to appoint state and local government executive committees at the grassroots level,” Uduehi recalled.
Uduehi also recalled that at the national level, 14 standing committees were inaugurated as the vehicles to carry out operations in all the focal areas relating to empowering girls and women.
“In totality, these operational structures consulted, designed and implemented all our out-reach programmes in local communities nationwide for 2019. Despite the constraints of funding, we were determined to carry out several programmes and activities at both the national and state levels to ensure impact at the grassroots.
“At the national level in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, we conducted several advocacy visits to popularize NILOWV’s vision and programmes to major stakeholders like the Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development to strengthen our partnership and explore further collaboration; the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), where we had discussions with democracy desk officials on the role and status of women in today’s world, and we met the UN Women Country Representative in Nigeria, Ms Comfort Lamptey, and exchanged views and knowledge on how best to increase the participation of women in the political and electoral space,” Uduehi added.
Uduehi further recalled that in 2019, NILOWV engaged with ministries and agencies, including the Federal Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development, the Independent National Election Commission (INEC), National Assembly, civil society groups, et cetera, to examine measures to take to improve policy-making for girls and women; to develop working relationships and partnerships in areas of shared interests.
“NILOWV had an opportunity to engage with Nigeria’s electoral space when we were accredited to observe and monitor elections in February/March and November 2019. We dispatched observers and monitors to states where elections were held, and also participated in data collection for future advocacy initiatives and projects.
“Media and publicity engagement was intensified in the print, electronic and social media where we publicized our advocacy activities and programmes; comment on cases of sexual violence against women and girls, teenage pregnancies, girl child labour, human trafficking, under-age marriage, etc,” Uduehi disclosed.
Uduehi also disclosed that NILOWV initiated interventions with relevant agencies, issued press releases, conducted radio and television interviews, published op-ed pieces and held press conferences.
“NILOWV issued press statements on incidents of election violence, including the murder of a female politician in Kogi State, abuse and harassment of a female gubernatorial candidate and observers during the elections,” Uduehi stated.
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