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#BNxUNWomen: Advancing Women’s Participation and Representation in Politics and Governance

We must shine the light on women. Women can easily be disenfranchised when the spotlight isn’t on them.

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In February, BellaNaija partnered with the United Nations Women and the Government of Canada to launch the Women in Politics and Governance Campaign, aimed at promoting women’s active participation in politics and governance. Although women make up 49% of Nigeria’s population and 44 million registered voters, their representation in politics and governance remains low at just 6.7%. However, the campaign highlighted a silver lining: more women are becoming aware of their political power and are ready to leverage it.

Here are some of the highlights of the campaign:

Women’s Political Participation

Despite the discouraging statistics, women are increasingly throwing their hats into the political arena. For example, in the 2023 General Elections, a record number of 1552 women contested (are contesting) for political positions.

To further boost female representation in politics and governance, we must continue to raise awareness about the importance of gender balance in leadership positions. This includes providing support and training for women who aspire to run for political office. It also includes creating, sponsoring and accepting bills proposed to foster fair representation of women in politics and governance. By promoting equal participation of women and men in political decision-making processes, we can build a more inclusive and prosperous society.

Throwing the Spotlight on Women in Politics and Governance

From Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala to Amina Mohammed, Dame Virginia Ngozi Etiaba – the first and only Nigerian female governor, to celebrities who have contested (and are contesting) for political positions and women candidates in the 2023 elections, this campaign cast the spotlight on women who are active in politics and the governance of our country and beyond.

By highlighting the successes of these women, we have not only brought them to the forefront of people’s political consciousness but also reminded the world of the invaluable contribution that women make in all sectors of our economy. Whether it is in politics, governance, leadership, or the broader economy, the brilliance, intelligence, and expertise of women are indispensable. Our efforts have underscored the power of women’s participation and their vital role in shaping our society. Even our fictional character, Mimi, is a tech babe who is interested and involved in the governance of her country.  

Our Conversations

We’ve got very brilliant Nigerian women putting in the work at home and abroad. Our conversation with Toun Sonaiya taught us one too many lessons: we must stop expecting perfection from women in politics. Toun said, “vote for women and let them show you what they’ve got.” Also support women with your votes, money, time, skills and motivation. A simple “well done” goes a long way. Did you miss the conversation? Listen to a snippet HERE.

When we had our Twitter Spaces with Buky Williams and Bukky Shonibare on whether or not women hold the key to economic prosperity, we got one answer: yes, women do. A country that wants to thrive and prosper is one that prioritises women’s inclusion. Bukky said, “when we have adequate women representation, we can boast of gendered policies that will boost us economically.” Did you miss it? Listen to it HERE.

There was so much to unpack during our IG Live conversation with Abosede George-Ogan, Zainab Bala and Kiki Mordi. One is the need for women leaders to carry women at the grassroots level along in their political pursuits. To get more women to wield political power, every woman (and man) must be on board. We must also empower women beyond basket-weaving and soap-making. These are great, but if women must compete politically, there must be sustainable empowerment models. Kiki mentioned that it is important to shine a light on women. She mentioned that “Women can easily be disenfranchised when the spotlight isn’t on them.” Did you miss it? Listen HERE.

2023; A year for Nigerian women in politics?

We have seen more political awareness, awakeness and participation in recent times, especially in the recently-concluded federal elections. We also have women winning their seats in the senate and house of representatives. There’s great news all around, and the future is bright for women’s active participation in politics and governance. It is time to apply more pressure, mobilise women at all levels and support their political aspirations. Who knows, Nigeria may produce a female president come 2027.

What Can We Do Better Moving Forward?

As we applaud women’s successes in the elections and advocate for increased female involvement in politics and governance, we must also aim for one thing: guaranteeing that every woman, regardless of their political connections or status, is afforded an opportunity in the political and governance spheres of our nation. We must ensure that every woman can be voted for whether or not they are related to a political god-father or have family members or friends within political circles. It is commendable that women are succeeding in political elections, but it’s not truly fair representation if they have to be associated with or related to established politicians in order to win.

Moving forward, a level playing field that empowers all women, politically and economically, would be the ideal outcome.



You can catch up on all Women in Politics and Governance content and conversations across all our social media pages using the hashtag #BNxUNWomen, and #WomeninPoliticsandGovernance.

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