The Justice Development and Peace Centre (JDPC), the conveners of the Stop Violence Against Women in Politics (Stop-VAWIP) in Ondo state has asked Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC to reel out plans that will enable people living with disabilities (PWD), eligible nursing mothers, pregnant women have access to designated CVR centers in the state.

Recall that INEC has scheduled to begin registration of voters from June 28, this year across the country.

Addressing newsmen in Akure, the Ondo state capital, Mr Kingsley Okoeguale, the Monitoring and Evaluation officer of the Stop-VaWIP campaign and Mrs Bola Inyang, the coordinator of The Speaking Voice urged INEC to show more dedication and commitment towards ensuring a hitch-free exercise.

Okoeguale said, “with less than 20 days to the beginning of the Continuous Voter Registration (CVR), it is incumbent on stakeholders, security agents, and INEC to double their efforts in ensuring the smooth registration of citizens ahead of local and national elections in 2023.”

“The Stop-VAWIP campaign is an initiative that seeks to establish the link between gender-based electoral violence and the low level of participation of women in politics. To bolster women’s participation in political and electoral processes, Stop-VAWIP campaigns create awareness of what gender-based violence is and its repercussions, link survivors of electoral violence to social and legal services, and include GOTV and voter education activities to mobilize the women to vote.”

“Through our past activities, JDPC has successfully drawn public attention to the link between violence targeting electorally active women and the low level of women’s participation in politics in Nigeria more broadly. In 2020, JDPC established a violence reporting hotline that received no fewer than 60 calls before, during, and after the governorship election in Ondo.”

“Through the hotline and other data collection sources, JDPC tracked more than 42 reported incidents of violence against women and successfully linked more than 75% of the victims to needed services.”

“Stop-VAWIP campaigns support women’s rights-focused organizations to conduct awareness-raising and public sensitization activities to amplify women’s voices, increase their access to political space, encourage government responsiveness and accountability, and build citizen’s resistance to acts of violence against women in elections.”

” The initiative also seeks to provide social and legal services to female survivors of violence, connect them to needed services through a referral mechanism, and lead advocacy for the enactment of the violence against person prohibition (VAPP) laws to mitigate violence against women.

“Ondo State Assembly is in the process of presenting the Violence Against Persons Prohibition (VAPP) bill for third reading and passage.
Stop-VAWIP initiatives are supported by the National Democratic Institute (NDI) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
The Continuous Voter Registration (CVR)”

“The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has scheduled to begin a nationwide registration of voters from June 28, 2021. The process will provide eligible citizens, especially women and young girls who are 18 years and older to register.

“The exercise remains an opportunity for women and girls in Ondo to be able to perform their civic responsibilities as voters and take an active role in voting during subsequent elections and ahead of the 2023 general elections.

Recommendations:
Women and girls who were excluded from taking part in previous elections should take advantage of the exercise to change their location due to relocations or collect new permanent voters cards (PVC).
Civil Society organizations should embark on massive civic education exercises to enlighten citizens to register to vote.
We call on women leaders in all political parties to mobilize all eligible women and girls to participate in the forthcoming CVR.
INEC should roll out plans to ensure access to the CVR centers for new mothers, pregnant women, people living with disabilities (PWD)s and other vulnerable people who will turn out to register.
INEC should promptly address gaps experienced during the CVR to encourage more people to participate in the process, thereby increasing citizen’s participation in the electoral process.
We are optimistic that the current exercise will help to address the systematic decline of voter turnout in elections.
INEC should make public the information on the newly created 923 polling units in Ondo State to enable intending voters to locate the registration centers.
We call on the government and Parliamentary Staff Association of Nigeria to continue negotiations in order to call off the strike in the interest of the people, especially this will fast-track the passage of the VAPP bill in Ondo State.