President of ECOWAS Female Parliamentarians Association (ECOFEPA), Senator Stella Oduah, has said that the womenfolk is crucial in the development of the regional block.
She made the assertion while speaking with journalists at the on-going Second Ordinary Session of the ECOWAS Parliament in Abuja
The senator, claimed that the women folk constitutes the larger population in the sub-region and as such could not be ignored in developmental efforts.
While lamenting that women’s participation in politics including that of the sub-region is still very low and needed to change, she stressed that women were capable of contesting and holding any political office in the sub-region and as such should not play second fiddle to their male counterpart.
The ECOFEPA President noted that since women constitute about 60 per cent of the region’s population, it would be wrong to disrespect or disregard them in efforts at improving the fortunes of the region.
“West Africa cannot attain its intended developmental strides without the involvement and participation of women in politics and policy making and implementation.
“You lose their strength, their brilliance, their contributions and you lose their participation.
“If the women who make up more than half of our population do not participate in developing West Africa, it means that we are using less half of our strength.
“Women do not have to beg to be allowed to participate, we constitute the larger population. We must participate because governance belongs to the people not to a particular gender,” she said.
To realise the potential of women in politics, Oduah, disclosed that the association was set to build a school for women leadership training in Abuja.
According to her, the school will impart on its trainees, leadership skills which is a requirement for emerging women leaders, adding that, ECOFEPA was currently collaborating with other international agencies to anchor national and community development of women.
“Involvement of women in both elective and selective offices is cardinal to the goals of ECOFEPA,” she said.
She however, called for a level-playing ground and equal opportunity for aspirants and candidates contesting elections.