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Low Outlook for Women in Forthcoming National Assembly Elections

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Statistics on the candidates running for office in the 9th Assembly indicate concern for low female representation in the upcoming 2019 National Assembly Elections scheduled for February 16, 2019. According to the data released by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in December (click here) only 232 women will be running against 1672 men for the Senate, while 528 women will compete against 4680 men for seats in the House of Representatives. The implication of this is best understood in the context that there are only 109 seats and 360 seats in the Senate and the House of Representatives, respectively.

In the 4th to 6th Assemblies (1999 to 2007), the country witnessed a slight progression in the number of elected women legislators. However, the decrease in elected female lawmakers in the 7th and 8th National Assemblies (2011 and 2015) may have influenced a House of Representatives Bill that proposes gender quotas for women in elections into the Senate, House of Representatives, State Houses of Assembly and Area Councils in the Federal Capital Territory. Provisions in the Bill for instance require political parties to increase the pool of female candidates available in primary elections by ensuring that a third of the total members contesting are women.

The Bill was stepped down at its second reading on Thursday 24th January, 2019