Nollywood actor, Ms Ini Edo on Thursday said she was committed to improving women’s chances of running for election in the country.
Edo made the commitment at her unveiling as National Democratic Institute’s (NDI) Ambassador for Women’s Empowerment in Abuja.
She said it was a critical time for women and it was necessary for them to dare to do great things in the country.
“NDI is addressing two issues that are very important to me; the first is the low percentage of women who serve in public office, on average, in all the parliaments of the world, only one seat out of four is held by a woman.
“This isn’t enough, further, only 16 per cent of parliamentarians are under the age of 40 and the larger percentages of these are also men.
“So, while women make up 50 per cent of the population in every country, we are underrepresented in each eligible age group.
“In Nigeria, I am sorry to say, the number of women in elected office is worse than the world’s average and even worse than some of our neighbours.”
According to her, women serve in only one elected seat out of 10 in Nigeria and in recent years, the number has been declining, “we must do better.”
“So I am joining the cause of improving women’s chances of running successfully for elected office.
“I won’t be alone; there are many who will be helping like prominent Nigerians, eminent international leaders including former women heads of state and Non-Governmental Organisations.
“We will all be united in the cause of amending laws and addressing other barriers to level the playing field so women can compete successfully for elected office in our country,’’ she said.
Edo said that her second initiative as NDI’s ambassador for women empowerment would address the problem of violence against women, especially during elections.
She said that this was because women who ran as candidates for offices were physically attacked and viciously attacked in social media and were subjected to horrible insults no person should have to endure.
She said that in some places in Nigeria, threat of violence was so severe that women were afraid to go out and vote as the deliberate attempt to silence and exclude women was intolerable.
She said that a country like Nigeria had a special duty to serve as an example for Africa and for the rest of the world so there should be an amendment of laws in ways to increase the number of women in elected office.
“We need centres to provide specialised assistance to women victims of violence and we must strengthen our laws to protect victims of violence, most especially women.’’
Edo said that she would carry out radio and television shows and posting supportive messages on her social media handles and shoot short films as way of campaigning for increased women participation in politics.
Earlier, NDI, Nigeria Chief of Party, Stephen Snook said NDI was none partisan NGO that responds to the worldwide quest for popular civil participation and open competitive systems and representative accountable government.
Snook said that to comprehensively address the barriers to women’s equal participation, it needed strong advocates who would not back down from the challenge.
“In response to the declining opportunities for women to participate in Nigeria’s political and electoral spaces, NDI with support from United States Agency for International Development (USAID) is supporting two initiatives aimed at increasing women’s representation in public office.
“We are proud to welcome Ini Edo as an Ambassador to our programme, who will raise awareness and support women’s political participation all across Nigeria with two initiatives.