At the stakeholders meeting organised today, 8th February 2019, organized by the *women situation report group*, against electoral violence, key speakers said there is the need for women to be actively involved in political participation rather than being only active in campaigns. .
Speaking at the meeting, Lezuya Solomon, Head of peace and conflict Resolution Unit Civil Defence Rivers State Chapter says women (comprising of youths) are not actively involved in political issues. In terms of campaign, women are a part of the crowd and not part of action which is a problem in itself. *women should mobilize themselves for elective positions not just for wrappers*
Mrs Ijeoma, a business woman, standing in for the market women reiterated that women are not willing to vote because of molestation on voting day. That women are not allowed to vote according to their conscience but are constantly coerced into voting for someone. She explains that it will be better for INEC and respective authorities to make voting a *secret ballot thing than the open ballot voting* which is common that this will give some credence to women.
Meanwhile, pastor Zannie Odoko, founder of teens organization, standing in for Christians says to a large extent, Christians are not involved in politics as they should be. She encouraged all Christian communities to sensitize their congregation in the next one week that this will go a long way to make a difference in this years voting. And that Christians should begin varying for political positions. On the youths, she says the youths are not exposed to the technical know how of varying for political positions, but that to some extent, they can be voted for. She recalled the lete arrival of electoral officials on election day and the stressful atmosphere for electorates. She says the condition for voting should be improved.
Also speaking, the secretary of FEDA, spoke of female segregation and that the youths should be free to contest any election and win. That the young women should be given same opportunities as young men.
Present at the event was a development worker who said that its was time for female development from the grassroot, that women generally should be able to hold politicians accountable and affirmative action followed.
The representative of Catholic women organisation expressed heart felt concern over the growing rate of cultism in the state.
Chief Lawrence Osundu of Okporo kingdom, who was also at the stakeholders meeting, said that the problem of women boils down to cultural hindrances. He stressed the need to women advocacy. A group that will begin on time to sensitize the women and catch them young not just during political era like this, but women that will build capacity.
Shadrack Abu, representing the police, said the role of that the role of the women in this election cannot be undermined, it is like the role of the police. Also, the incoming IG, has put all things in place for the election to be free of electoral violence.
Major issues raised by the stake holders at the meeting and the solutions proffered are
Culture; to eliminate this, there should be strong advocacy, awareness creation, women network engagement with various stakeholders.
Corruption and violence; grooming should start from the home. The church should do more counseling.
Finance; there should be a form of affirmative action, fund raising.
Capacity gap; women should bridge the capacity gap, compete with the men at all levels and support other women. .
The following electoral recommendations were made during this meeting.
Very secret ballot system, people should avoid hanging around after accreditation on that day, avoid getting into any form of argument with anybody, be watchful and stay safe from trouble.
The situation for women report says they Will be monitoring and observing the election.
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