As part of the Policy and Legal Advocacy Center (PLAC)’s Expanding Political Participation of Women in Nigeria, PLAC with the support of TrustAfrica and Ford Foundation proposed to collaborate with policymakers, which include legislators, influencers and opinion shapers to embark on a study visit to Senegal to learn practices and share experiences on strategies for successful inclusion of women in governance. The delegation met with the National Assembly, the Ministry of Women, Gender and Family, the National Observatory on Parity, Article 19, the Senegalese Lawyers Association and OSIWA. The expected outcome of this study tour was to increase awareness among policymakers and stakeholders on the gains of women inclusion in governance. The study visit took place in Dakar, from Tuesday 31st July to Thursday 2nd August 2018.
Nigerian women, despite constituting a significant part of the country’s general and voting population, continue to be marginalized in the governance and political structures of the country. For instance, in the current 8th ;National Assembly, only 21 women occupy seats in the House of Representatives while only 7 occupy Senate seats. With women occupying less than 5% of the country’s federal legislative seats and few key appointive positions, a prompt intervention is necessary.
Recognizing that the law on parity placed Senegal at the forefront globally in terms of women representation and one of the most stable countries in West Africa, Senegal is prime example of a country Nigeria can learn practices from and share experiences on strategies for successful inclusion of women in governance. This study visit was towards examining likely reforms to be undertaken to achieving the same in Nigeria. Senegal was identified due to its status as a West African country with successful efforts in ensuring increased numbers of women in key political and governance institutions (in particular, the parliament).
It is in this regard that in addition to the one-on-one meetings with different organizations and Senegalese Government officials, TrustAfrica organized a roundtable discussion on Thursday August 2nd with the theme: Where are we now, lessons learned and way forward to create an opportunity for interaction with many more actors involved in the promotion of parity in Senegal and hear about their perspectives on the future. Are we now satisfied with the parity in Senegal? What are the lessons learned throughout the journey which the Nigerian delegation can also take home as they work towards the same? This was also an opportunity for Senegalese actors to network and reflect on plans going forward.