West African female politicians have told the BBC’s Africa Daily podcast that the system was rigged against them and that they faced bullying and attacks. This is the reason why more women do not join politics in the region, they say.
“It’s the system,” said Eunice Atuejide who stood as a presidential candidate in Nigeria’s 2019 elections. It has “quite a lot of people who are very patriarchal” in leadership positions.
Ms Atuejide said women who run for political office face fear of attacks and warned it can get “really dirty”.
She said opponents go so far as to make fake videos, including fake sex videos, to smear the women candidates’ name.
Liberia’s Karishma Pelham-Raad, who is one of the youngest women candidates hoping to be elected to Liberia’s House of Representatives, echoed similar sentiments.
Social media can “bring you down completely”, she said. Despite the fact Liberia had a female president in the form of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Ms Pelham-Raad believes not much was done under her administration to advance the rights of women in politics: “She did not empower a lot of women,” Ms Pelham-Raad said.
The situation is not much better in Ghana, where Dr Zanator Rawlings, who is an MP, said there was no affirmative action bill to get more women into political power. Out of Ghana’s 275 MPs just 40 are women, she said.
“Women just don’t get enough funding or support,” she said. “The system is rigged against the women” she added, lamenting that when women are in politics, they are mostly given “token” positions and “deputising” roles.
Senegal is the country doing better than other countries in West Africa – following elections in July, women make up 44% of MPs, compared to 4% of in Nigeria and 26% in Niger.