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‘Only 36 Women have been in Senate since 1999’ – Report

From Onimisi Alao, Yola

A report by an indigenous nongovernmental organisation, Center for Information Technology and Development (CITAD), has said the Nigerian Senate has had only 36 women since 1999 when the current democratic dispensation began.

The CITAD report, unveiled at a training for journalists in the Adamawa State capital, Yola, states that the Senate has had 654 members since 1999, meaning that men have had 618 slots to leave 36 to women, giving a percentage of 5.5% women to 94.5% men.

The 654 total number of senators was deduced from Nigeria’s electoral history within the period under review, in which case elections were conducted in 1999, 2003, 2007, 2011, 2015 and 2019 (six times), each of which time 109 senators were elected.

The report which dug further into the archive, notes that out of the 109 senators elected in 1999, only three were women; while in 2003, 2007, 2011, 2015 and 2019; only 4, 8, 7, 8 and 6 women were elected respectively as senators.

A deeper study would however reveal that the number of specific women would be less than 36 because some women did or have done more than one term at the Senate, including Chief Remi Tinubu, who is doing her third term in the Senate, having first been elected in 2011 and re-elected twice: 2015 and then 2019.

Similarly, the number of men, strictly talking of individuals involved, would be less than 618, as many individuals did or have done more than a term at the Senate, including Sen David Mark, who was first elected into the Senate in 1999 and was reelected repeatedly until he opted out in 2019.

The CITAD report attributed the poor outing of women at the Senate to, among other things, gender-related hate speech which put women at a disadvantage.

The report noted that during the period under review, there was a preponderance of Gender Based Hate Speech with derogative words and phrases used to describe women in politics.

According to the report, terms and refrains like prostitute, ashawo, the weaker vessel, her office is in the kitchen, among others, were freely used, discouraging many women from seeking election or affecting the chances of those who dared to aspire.

The training for journalists at which the report by CITAD was unveiled was on hate speech and what journalists could do to mitigate it.

CITAD which has its head office in Kano, held the media training for journalists in Yola with funding from the National Democratic Institute (NDI), according to a Coordinator with CITAD, Hamza Ibrahim.

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