Nigeria: Gender Equality Bills – Women’s groups pledge to continue occupation of National Assembly

Abuja – Aggrieved groups under the Women in Politics Forum (WPF) and Womenifesto have said they will continue to occupy the National Assembly until Nigerian lawmakers reconsider gender-related bills recently rejected.

Womenifesto co-organizer Dr. Abiola Akiyode-Afolabi and Women in Politics Forum President Ebere Ifendu in a statement yesterday urged all women to continue supporting rallies across the country, including in Abuja , Lagos and Calabar.

The groups have called on the leaders of the Senate and House of Representatives to convene an urgent meeting to discuss how to right the wrong done to women or else they will continue to rush into the rallies.

Noting that Nigeria has a dismal representation of women in political and elective positions, women said that in the National Assembly, comprising the Senate with 109 members and the House of Representatives with 360 members, only 29 are women, only 6% of the total. .

The groups added that there were 440 men in the assembly, explaining that a low representation of women in leadership positions is tantamount to depriving half of the Nigerian population of the voice and the opportunity to contribute to governance and Development.

“The male-dominated legislature recently rejected an attempt to recalibrate this imbalance, introducing a cog in the way of addressing the age-old discrimination against women that has also stunted development.

“On the first day of Women’s History Month – March – the Nigerian Legislature voted to deny citizenship to the foreign-born husband of a Nigerian woman, but the foreign-born wife of a Nigerian man automatically obtains citizenship.

“They have denied Diaspora Nigerians the right to vote, denied women the opportunity to become ‘natives’ of their husband’s state after 5 years together and have denied 35% of appointed positions for women” , the women said.

According to them, it did not stop there as women were denied 35% affirmative action in party administration and leadership as well as the denial of specific seats for women in the National Assembly.

Women’s groups demanded an urgent reconvening, reconsideration and immediate passage of the five women and gender-related bills: Bills 35, 36, 37, 38 and 68.

In addition, they called for the passage of the Gender and Equal Opportunity Bill (GEOB), currently before the Senate, as well as the resuscitation and passage of the ” Support for the participation of women in elected and appointed positions, Bill 2020 before the House of Representatives.

Furthermore, the groups called for the immediate domestication of the Protocol of African Charters on the Rights of Women in Africa, which Nigeria ratified in 2004, as well as the domestication of the UN Convention on the Elimination of All forms of discrimination against women (CEDAW), which Nigeria ratified in 1985.

“Our resolve to continue this struggle is to push back against NASS’s misogynistic attitude, model of neglect of women’s concerns, and disregard for ‘femininity’.

“Many, women have been embarrassed by the gender-blind practices of legislators. The failure to address women’s issues through the gender bill shows that women are irrelevant.

“We reject any dehumanization of Nigerian women. The constitution should remedy this flaw and we will continue to demonstrate to show our displeasure,” the women said.

Michael A. Bynum