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On Tuesday 18th May 2021, a strategic meeting of esteemed members of the Women’s Political Participation Working Group (WPP-WG) consisting of government and multilateral partners was called to discuss action toward the imminent zonal public hearings on the Constitutional Review process. The zonal public hearings announced by the Chair of the Senate Constitution Review Committee, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege are slated to take place on the 26th – 27th May across 12 states of the Federation.
The objectives of this meeting were to: i. Decide on key asks of the WPP-WG in relation to the constitutional review process; ii. Identify strategic next actions to ensure a strong concerted front in mobilizing public support and harmonization with key groups for women’s increased political participation and representation.
Previously, efforts to push issues of women’s political representation have been curtailed and misconstrued with other contentious issues particularly sexual and reproductive health rights which conservative groups have strong reservations on. At this meeting, it was agreed that it is not realistic to ask women’s constituents and groups to agree on all issues relating to women’s rights and development – to present one voice for all Nigerian women. Therefore, it is important to have initial informal interactions with a range of women’s groups across states where the WPP-WG are in operation to ascertain the position of these groups on the issue of women’s representation and specifically, affirmative action and reserved seats. This is action that the WILPF, as Chair of the WPP-WG, have commenced with a view of progressing to formal virtual consultations with these groups before the public zonal hearings. The following areas were identified as critical points to consider, and the following actions agreed on.
 Engagement of the office of the Honorable Minister of Women Affairs
Members of the group agreed that it would be critical to engage the Honorable Minister of Women Affairs on the following:
In increasing media awareness on the upcoming hearings and mobilizing State Ministries and Governors to push for the strong messaging on women’s increased political representation. The Honorable Minister has championed the HeForShe campaign with strategic influence and amicable relationship with State Governors.
It was proposed that the Honorable Minister would call a National Press Conference to highlight the key asks for women’s increased leadership in line with the proposal the Honorable Minister’s Office put forward to the Senate Constitutional Review committee. This press conference would take place simultaneously with press briefings hosted by State Commissioners across states. Prior to the National and inter-state press briefings, the members agreed that it would be strategic for the Honorable Minister to further engage State Governors to solicit their support in mobilizing First Ladies and State Commissioners of Women’s Affairs to promote the asks of the Ministry and the WPP-WG.
Furthermore, members proposed engaging the Honorable Minister in engaging clerks visiting each public hearing to ensure partners of the WPP-PWG will have first opportunity to speak on key messages.
The meeting came to an end upon highlight of action points and group photograph.