Ahead of the 2023 general elections, security agencies have been tasked to mobilize and strengthen its female personnel as well as engage their services during the polls, for a free and fair exercise.
Minister of Women Affairs, Dame Pauline Tallen, gave the charge on Tuesday, in Abuja during the third annual forum of women, peace and security sector reference group, with theme; ‘The Role of Security Personnel in the 2023 general Election,’ organized by the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) in collaboration with Federal Ministry of Women Affairs, with support from the UNWomen.
According to the Minister, if concerted efforts are made for the inclusion of female security personnel, safety at the polling centers will be ensured as women possess soft skills of dialogue and mediation.
Tallen further calls on women across all sector to stand in solidarity in their numbers and support other women aspiring for leadership positions, to enable more women be voted into elective positions in the country.
She said, “The theme for this 3rd Edition was carefully chosen in recognition of the inherent potential of female security personnel to systemically promote free and fair elections as well as ensure violence-free voting environment which would encourage increased women political participation.
“I wish to stress the need for female security personnel to be fully mobilized and deployed to utilize their potential in overseeing the forthcoming general elections towards actualizing a safe, free and fair elections.
“I am confident that our heightened advocacy around the involvement of more female security personnel, either as observers or as law-and-order enforcers, would go a long way to ensure that our forth coming general elections more than ever are free and fair.
“In a few weeks from now, we will witness major changes in the governance structure of the country, as Nigerians prepare to elect their new Leaders. The question is how prepared are we to forestall any incidence of electoral violence that has hitherto surrounded the Nigerian elections and which has also constantly scared many women from fully participating.
“Dialogue and Mediation are part of the most integral aspects of Peace Processes and as women we possess the natural soft skills to achieve this.
“Permit me to also use this golden opportunity to implore all well-meaning Nigerians to endeavour to support and vote women vying for political positions as I am very optimistic that if more women are being elected into strategic positions, Nigeria’s lost glory will surely be restored.
Tallen expressed appreciation to stakeholders who have immensely contributed to the success of the UNSCR 1325 implementation in Nigeria and have committed to support and develop the 3rd NAP which will soon be launched.
Speaking further she said, “so much has been achieved in the area of Women, Peace and Security in Nigeria. Though, the journey was tough, but with resilience and commitment, today we can all say that more than ever before we have changed the landscape for women’s inclusion in the Security Architecture in the country, from the Military, Para-Military and the Civil Society Space, Traditional institutions; the narratives have changed.
On his part, the Commandant General of the NSCDC, Ahmed Audi reiterated the need for female personnel involvement in peacebuilding noting, this plays a major role in conflict resolution.
Audi, represented by the Deputy Commandant in charge of Crisis Management Dr. Nnamdi Nwanyi said, “for us at the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, we have long realized the role of women in peacebuilding and the sustainability of peace efforts. We are conscious that women play an immeasurable role in preventing or de-escalating conflict, brokering local ceasefires, promoting cultures of peace and co-existence, and preventing recruitment of children
“Understandably, any development initiative that excludes this very important population is a failure ab-initio.
“That is why gender equality and gender parity are not only a matter of women’s rights, but a fundamental pre-requisite for a safer, more peaceful, and more sustainable world for all. We cannot separate the perilous state of peace in our society from millennia of patriarchy and the suppression of women’s voices.
The British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Catriona Liang commended Nigerian female candidates who participates in elections as the system is marred with violence.
Liang stressed that, “It is really a tough line in Nigeria, not surprising the low representation. You must be a pretty brave woman to be elected. it is really important for women to know that they can vote for whoever they want.”
On her part, the Country Representative, Nigeria and ECOWAS UNWomen Ms. Beatrice Eyong calls for collaborative efforts of INEC and all relevant stakeholders to ensure the safety of women before the election, during and after the election, noting, this forum will provide the avenue to ensure the objective of safeguarding the lives of women as Nigeria go into its general elections.
Eyong categorically stated that, the meaningful participation and representation of women in the security sector will undoubtably will accelerate positive impacts.
Highlights of the events was the unveiling of the school Sexual Gender Based Violence (SGBV) app to protect female students from sexual, cultist and other forms of attacks in their educational settings.