By Constance Meju HRH Elder P. Kpang, others at the town hall meeting in Calabar L-R: Mrs. Tammie Kammonke, Barr. William Itorok, Barr. Bisi A
By Constance Meju
Families have been charged to change their attitude towards the girl-child with provision of opportunity for acquisition of leadership skills by the girl child as preparation for a more active role in national development.
This was part of resolutions at a town hall meeting in Calabar, Cross River State to promote enhanced participation of women in elections.
The town hall meeting was held with women groups and gender focused civil society organizations on enhanced participation of women in elections in Cross River State on Friday February 8, 2019 at the Nebulla Hall, Axari Hotel Murtalla Mohammed Highway Calabar, Cross River State. It was facilitated by Women in Action for Positive Development and Gender Enhancement Centre (WAPDAGEC)and funded by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) with a total of 140 participants comprising of 125 women and 15 men in attendance.
The objectives of the meeting were to sensitize participants on the general elections and women’s rights to vote and be voted for.
The town hall featured presentations by Mrs. Inyang Ikpeme, Head of Voter Education and Publicity, INEC Cross River State on update on INEC’s preparedness towards 2019 general election and election day procedures, Tammie Kammonke, Executive Director of Gender Perspective on Women’s participation and the 2019 general elections: Rationale and challenges and Rev Fr Bekomson represented by Barr Williams Itorok on issues and priorities for the 2019 elections.
There were interactive sessions on each of the presentations and a discussion on follow up action session facilitated by Tammie Kammonke.
At the end of the town hall meeting, a communique was issued highlighting key resolutions reached. The resolutions are captured below under specific categories:
- FAMILY/PARENTS (MOTHERS & FATHERS)
- There should be re-orientation on gender norms and roles beginning from the family – the girl child should be socialized to be open to leadership responsibilities.
- Parents should apply the principle of equal opportunity for boys and girls in assigning roles at home – roles should not be based on the sex of the child.
- WOMEN/WOMEN’S GROUPS
- Women’s organizations should use their platforms to sensitize their members to participate in politics/elections.
- Women need to work in partnership with men towards actualizing gender equality and electoral rights of women.
- Women should not give in to intimidation and fear but be courageous in participating in electoral activities.
- Women should tackle issues of electoral violence by applying both short term and long measures such as application of security precautions while participating in electoral activities to avoid risk to their lives and support advocacy for change of rules that undermine women’s participation in election activities such as late night political meetings among others.
- Another long term measure proposed is for Civil Society Organizations to carry out advocacy towards policy changes that will enhance women’s effective participation in elections.
- To address women’s apathy towards female aspirants, women should use the platform of their women’s groups to sensitize and mobilize fellow women to support female aspirants.
- Women should not trade off their political rights for “peanuts” (short term handouts) given during campaigns.
- Women should leverage their huge voting population and large social network of women’s groups in support of women aspirants/candidates.
- INEC should carry out continuous voter education activities and not just during election time and in the state capital alone.
- INEC should also decentralize voter education to the rural areas across the three senatorial districts of the state and not just concentrate on the state capital.
- A conscious effort should be made by INEC to target/sensitize men on gender issues in elections.
- INEC should increase number of polling units in new settlements
- ACTION POINTS
At the end of the town hall meeting, action points were identified demonstrate commitment at the level of individual participants, collective group of participants, civil society organizations and INEC.
Individual participants made a personal commitment to take the following actions:
- Vote during the elections (this includes those who had previously decided not to vote prior to attending the town hall meeting).
- Collect their Permanent Voters cards (PVCs) using the extended window between the weekend and Monday February 11, 2019 to pick up their PVCs in order to vote (for those yet to collect their PVCs).
- Personally, sensitize their household members, neighbors, colleagues, and friends on the elections and to encourage them to vote.
- Look out for, draw the attention of INEC officials to and support vulnerable groups such as pregnant women, the elderly and people with disabilities during the elections.
- GROUP OF PARTICIPANTS
All participants agreed to Vote and Sensitize others to vote
- CIVIL SOCIETY ORGANIZATIONS
Civil society organizations/women’s groups represented at the town hall meeting offered to, convene emergency meeting to sensitize their members on voting in the forth- coming elections, sensitize members on the coming general elections and include politics in normal meeting agenda on a regular basis
- INEC was charged to ensure that there is security at the polling units before, during and after the elections.
The communiqué was adopted by Mrs Effanga Aye Henshaw and seconded by Helen Kanu. The communiqué committee comprised of seven persons: Tammie Kammonke– Facilitator, Elder Grace Inyang, Mrs Effanga Aye Henshaw, Glory Ene , Effiong Stephen Edet, Aniekan Dan and Helen Kanu, secretary.