Hope, Action and Progress for Women and Youth in Politics
September 2021 – March 2023
We-YOU-Project is a 19-month project in partnership with ActionAid Nigeria with funding from the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO). The project is being implemented in 24 communities across Okrika, Ogu/Bolo, Port Harcourt and Obio-Akpor Local Government Areas (LGAs) in Rivers State.
The project will work with communities across four LGAs to mobilise grassroots engagement in advance of the 2023 elections, and support at least 300 women and young people to build campaigning, policy and influencing skills via a training programme. Through this, we will develop a Women and Youth Agenda for Rivers State, to document the priorities of women and young people that they want to see their political leaders respond to, and launch a large-scale campaign and advocacy initiative to build public interest and put pressure on political aspirants, representatives, and political parties to act on the demands of women and young people.
This project aims to increase political participation and representation of women and young people in Rivers state in the run up to 2023 election and secure policy commitments and actions from political aspirants, representatives, and political parties, in response to the demands of women and young people.
- Run consultations with women and young people on their priorities to develop a Women and Youth Agenda for Rivers State
- Support at least 300 women and young people to build campaigning, policy and influencing skills via a training programme
- Run large scale public campaign and advocacy initiative to promote women and young people’s political engagement
- Support increased voter participation among women and young people by working with INEC at the national and state-level to support Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) and voter transfer efforts to reach women and young people effectively, and mobilise grassroots engagement and promote voter registration with focus on younger people and those who have not previously engaged.
In the run up to the 2023 elections, we recognize the importance in the need for development in participation and inclusion of women and young people in Rivers state. There is the need to try and break current dynamics, by supporting women and young people to become more engaged, and demonstrate that democratic engagement can lead to positive change. Underlying factors in the Rivers context are:
- Traditional ideas that determine who can participate in decision-making, with notably low representation of women and young people in politics
- Significant fraud, violence and disruption of the polls, resulting in woman and young people feeling particularly excluded, and leading to voter apathy
- A heavily patronage-based system which will retain a high level of control over candidates, their actions, and any commitments made during the 2023 elections
- Declining voter participation and the systematic rigging of results, vote buying, and insecurity during elections since 2003
- Younger voters deterred by polls that lack credibility, lack relatable candidates, and face barriers to viable voter registration when they are the most mobile part of the population
However, much as there are significant challenges to political change in Rivers state, there are also opportunities. For instance:
- While representation of women in elected positions at the State-level matches the very poor national average, participation as candidates in the 2019 elections was higher. This, combined with our experience working with women to campaign for their greater representation in politics during these elections, demonstrates to us the latent interest in pushing this agenda further.
- INEC collaboration and engagement around more effective voter registration and transfers, which could lead to mobilising and enabling a greater youth vote in 2023.
- The Deputy Governor has demonstrated interest in advancing women’s representation and the Governor has taken active steps to promote women in political positions, such as Deputy Chairperson positions in all LGAs.
- A lessening of severe political tensions in the state leading to small improvement in public discourse.
There also remains the possibility for changes at the Federal-level to have a significant influence in Rivers state. For example, improvements in the democratic system might enable the emerging political class of engaged young people to become a critical body of voters that political aspirants will need to engage with and represent.
Related news and updates
Funders and Partners