Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) National Commissioner, Prof.Antonia Okoosi-Simbine, on Thursday urged the media to enhance democracy through fair reportage on women in politics.
She said that adequate reporting of activities of women in politics would encourage participation of more women in the governance of the country.
Okoosi-Simbine made the call in Lokoja at the Training for Journalists and Media Executives on Gender-Sensitive Coverage organised by Centre for Democracy and Development with support from UN Women.
She said that the media in any political system played a critical role in the political process, and that it would be right for Nigerian media to assist the course of achieving equality for all.
The national commissioner said that gains for women in one or two areas in politics notwithstanding, campaign of calumny and gender-based invectives in the political space still discouraged their participation.
“They believe that there is masculine domination of politics to the extent that men hold politics as a cult and pay lip service to women participation since double standards are maintained gender-wise.
“There is need for vigorous societal public enlightenment for party programmes that support women uplifting, their empowerment and their general acceptance in the public sphere.
“The equal participation of women and men in all aspects of public life is a key principle of democracy and women’s participation in politics is a major goal.
“The place of gender equality in democracy cannot be over emphasised,” she said.
Okoosi-Simbine said that while a reporter might not be directly discriminating against women, it was always important that the media practitioners wore a gender lens while reporting.
She said that women constituted 48 per cent of Nigeria’s voting population, but occupied only 5.8 per cent of the political offices in the country, and that this could be attributed to media reporting slants.
According to her, this was the case in 2015 when only eight female senators and 20 House of Representatives members were elected while only six females were elected as deputy governors.
Okoosi-Simbine said that the issues called for general societal public enlightenment to underscore that chauvinist and sexist views were politically incorrect.
Mr James Bigila, a representative of the United Nations Women, Nigeria, said that the media in the country and globally, were an important catalyst towards achieving gender equality and women’s empowerment.
Bigila said that this was because the media could take gender issues out of the private realm and put them on the political agenda.
“As you all are aware, women are under-represented in Nigeria’s political space, and Nigeria has the lowest rate of women members of parliament in Africa.
“Consequently, special measures are required, over a period of time, to close the gap since the playing field for political contest is not level and women are most affected by this,” he said.