The INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) in Imo, Prof. Francis Ezeonu gave the advice in Owerri on Friday at a Town Hall Meeting with women groups and gender focused Civil Society Organisations (CSOs).

The programme tagged `Enhanced Participation of Women in Politics was conducted in collaboration with Tomorrows Women Development Organisation (TWDO), a Non-Governmental Organisation.

Prof. Ezeonu, represented by Mr Sunday Adedoyin, Head of Voter Education Programme (VEP), INEC, explained that the commission had spent a lot of resources to ensure women developed interest and participated in politics.

Women should no longer take the back seat when it comes to politics, but should come out and participate actively.

The desire of INEC is that women should show interest in politics, if possible, more than their male counterparts.

INEC wants to partner with women in whatever aspect it takes to be in governance. After 2019, we want more women in politics in 2023, 2027 and beyond, he said.

The Imo REC, therefore, encouraged the women to pick their PVCs and vote wisely putting their fellow women into consideration, especially the credible ones.

He reminded them that their PVCs were their right to a free, fair and credible election.

The National Coordinator of TWDO, Mrs Chinyere Ezenwokike, called on women to vote for women vying for different positions in the general elections.

In her paper entitled, `Women Participation and the 2019 General Elections: Rational and Challenges Ezenwokike noted that elections were fully credible when women participated fully and included in the electoral process.

She pointed out that women not only comprised majority in terms of population, but also played a crucial role in society as procreators and producers of goods and services.

Ezenwokike noted with dismay that traditional and cultural perception of women as inferior to men had prevailed, causing men to dominate women in political, economic, social and religious realms.

She called on women to come out and participate in politics adding that they could be supported, especially in overcoming gender discrimination.

Women need to come out en masse to participate in the forthcoming election by voting the right candidates and be voted for.

The more women are associated in numbers in political decision making process in governments, the more they can change the modalities and outcomes of policies, she said.

Ezenwokike identified some of the factors affecting women participation in politics to include gender and cultural patterns, ideology, pre-determined social roles assigned to women and male dominance and control.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that various women groups, such as the National Council for Women Societies, faith-based women groups from different religious organisations and CSOs attended the programme.

The participants expressed delight to INEC and the NGO for organising the programme which they said was an eye opener and enlightenment for more women participation in politics.