Political parties unfair without female running mates

Stakeholders in the electoral process in Nigeria, including the United States-based National Democratic Institute have expressed concern over the exclusion of women as running mates in the presidential primaries for the 2023 elections.

They, therefore, emphasized the need for the media to beam attention on the marginalization of women in the last presidential primaries by political parties.

These recommendations were among the highlights of a communique issued at the end of a two-day media training which was held early August in Calabar for 25 journalists on gender reporting, with the theme: ‘Preparing journalists to promote women political participation: Training on gender- sensitive reporting in Nigeria.’

The event, which was organized by the Women In Politics Forum for select journalists, was sponsored by the United States Agency for International Development, the United Kingdom Agency for International Development and the NDI.

The communique signed by the President of WiPF, Ebere Ifendu, was obtained by The PUNCH in Abuja on Sunday.

Ifendu said that the media needed to be intentional in projecting women in politics through the publication of stories that would focus on issues rather than irrelevant personal matters.

The communique read, “Participants also observed that as a prelude to the 2023 presidential election, none of the major political parties made women their running mates, thereby, fueling the continued marginalization of women. The media should beam attention on the marginalization of the last presidential primaries in this regard.

“Journalists should generate story ideas and write stories on women in politics and amplify women’s success stories either in politics or other spheres of life. The media should ensure that more women are featured regularly on guest programmes.

“Media organizations should deliberately create special programs or allot slots for women-related programmes.

Women groups should partner with media executives through advocacy visits to establish women-focused programmes. Media organizations should avoid the use of stereotypes in their description of women holding public offices.

“Media organizations and reporters should commit to reporting women-related stories every two weeks or perhaps, once a month for visibility.

Reporters and media agencies should compile a data bank or compendium of women open to interviews.”

The Chief of Party in the NDI, Dr. Stephen Snook, gave a brief background on the poor participation of women in politics in the 2015 elections with a call on the media to assist in changing the narrative before the next general elections.

One of the resource persons and the Chief Executive Officer of Women Radio, Toun Okewale-Sonaiya, in her paper titled, ‘Understanding quality media in the promotion of women political participation,’ highlighted the importance of a good reporter to be fair, accurate and balanced while reporting on women in politics.

She encouraged journalists to research more and ensure continuity before, during and after the 2023 elections for equal representation of women in Nigeria.

A Faculty member and Senior Program Officer of the Center for Democracy and Development, Austin Aigbe, in his lecture, “Gendered disinformation in Nigeria: Role of media,” explained the difference between misinformation and disinformation.

While proffering possible solutions to poor women’s participation in politics, he emphasized the importance of fact-checking and utilizing available fact-checking tools to avoid disseminating misleading messages.

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