The Girl Child Empowerment and Reproductive Health Initiative (GREP) with support from the National Democratic Institute for international affairs (NDI) has launched Stop Violence Against Women In Politics (Stop-VAWIP) campaign ahead of the forthcoming governorship election in Bayelsa state.
The one-day roundtable meeting held at Jubilee Hotel in Yenagoa, the state capital, witnessed the attendance of female aspirants, women mobilizers and women leaders of political parties in the lead up to the 2019 governorship and local government elections in the state.
The Programme Officer of NDI in charge of Stop-VAWIP, Mr. Emeka Diru and Executive Director of GREP, Deaconess Rosemary Oweifawari said the meeting bacame imperative considering the number of women politicians that would participate in the elections.
A communique signed by stakeholders and issued at the end of the roundtable read in parts: "the roundtable helped to equip and prepare females across political parties to understand what constitutes violence against women in politics, advocate and encourage women to vote.
"The meeting helped participants to share women's experiences on violence inside politics, strengthen the capacity of women to report cases of violence against women in politics and elicit their views on issues that will improve women participation in politics and governance, their views will be used to develop a women’s policy agenda known as Bayelsa Women Agenda.
"The Stop-VAWIP Campaign seeks to combat violence against women, which deters their full and active participation in politics and elections and works in collaboration with other local organizations and agencies to deploy psychosocial and legal support services for survivors.
"The campaign also seeks to establish the link between gender-based electoral violence and the low level of participation of women in politics. Its overall goal is to mitigate violence against women during elections and encourage women to actively participate in politics.
"The roundtable meeting was attended by the representative of the Governor, Special Adviser to the Governor on Women in Politics, Female Governorship Aspirant, Female Councilorship candidates, women mobilizers and party women leaders.
To enhance participant’s capacity to conduct a Stop-VAWIP get out the vote campaign and mobilize women to vote in the Bayelsa governorship election.
To enlighten participants to be able to identify and report VAWIP as well as strategize for responding.
"Women from different political parties, resolve to work together irrespective of their party differences, mobilize other women to vote in elections and support female candidates participating in the upcoming LGA elections and Governorship elections.
"Women call on all political parties and their candidates to reach a consensus to work together and ensure that women are protected during elections and enhance their participation in politics.
"Women call on all political parties to reduce the price of their nomination form and remove other hidden charges that prevent more women from seeking elective offices and other positions such as delegate.
"Women ask political parties to encourage them to hold vital office positions, rather than holding only the position of women leaders. Suggested parity of position along gender lines.
"Women asked for legal law that protects women such as the Violence Against Persons Prohibition (VAPP) Act to punish offenders of electoral violence. Called on security agencies to prosecute perpetrators.
"Urge candidates to desist from sponsoring and recruiting thugs who are perpetrators of violence.
"Political parties should formulate and adhere to policies and constitutional provision that will eliminate Gender Stereotypes that serves as inhibition to Women’s political participation and inclusion in Politics".
Representatives of the Stop VAWIP implementing committee, Special adviser to the governor on women in politics, woman leader, All Progressives Congress (APC), woman leader, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), woman leader, ( APM), woman leader, Green Party of Nigeria (GPN), woman leader, Yes Party ( YP) as well as DO Foundation signed the communiqué.