By G9ija

The All Progressive Congress (APC), National Women Leader, Hon. Stella Okotete, has stated that the best way to bridge the gap of non-participation by women in politics is to “catch them young”.

She made this disclosure in response to the issues of inadequate female participation in politics at a townhall meeting hosted by the Dinidari Foundation Africa in partnership with AIT and with support from the Heinrich Boll Stiftung tagged “From Streets to Parliament, Strengthening Women’s Political Power in Nigeria”

She also stated that the APC has recently set up the “Progressive Young Women Forum”, a platform with the aim of galvanizing more young women across the board to be a part of the political processes. The platform exists to encourage young women to run for the office of Councillor across the 36 States with some support and mentorship from the APC.

The conference was graced by several women who are currently thriving in their careers, they spoke on the challenges faced by women, young and old in the politics and governance sector. A recurring theme from nearly all the speakers was that the time has long come for more adequate female representation in politics in Nigeria.

Former Minister of Women Affairs, Iyom Josephine Anenih in her remarks stated that more women need to be in the legislative houses as they will then be able to influence policies that allow more women to attain these positions of power and leadership been eluding us.

She further lamented that political parties since inception have been male-dominated and the is need to change the narrative now.

Media representative, Oluchi Nwosu highlighted the efforts of media in championing women’s voices. She also stated that more can and should be done.

Other panellists brought up salient points throughout the conference; Omolara Oriye, the Executive Director at TIERS, spoke on how women equality must be a part of any democratic system. Hassana Maina, a Lawyer and gender advocate particularly spoke on the cultural and religious factors that hinder women from Northern Nigeria to go into politics. Rinu Oduala, a focal part of the #EndSARS protests spoke on how women “don’t need to wait for permission and will bring their own mats and create seats for themselves”

The conference ended with a closing speech by the Managing Director, AIT, Dr Tosin Dokpesi. She reiterated AITs commitment to championing women’s voices.