The outgoing 9th National Assembly (NASS) has failed the Nigerian women, due to its inability to pass five gender bills into law, women’s rights advocates in Nigeria have stated.
Recall that five gender bills which are Bill No 35: Special Seats for Women; Bill No 36: Expansion of the scope of citizenship by registration; Bill No 37: Affirmative action for women in political party administration; Bill No 38: Indigeneship Rights and Bill No 68 (formerly Bill No 45): Affirmative Action in Ministerial and Commissioner Appointments, were rejected by the 9th NASS.
The gender advocates who spoke to our correspondent, at a knowledge building round table with media chiefs, organised by Women Advocates Research and Documentation Centre (WARDC), with support from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and Palladium, yesterday, in Lagos, averred that, Nigeria cannot have a sustainable democracy without the inclusion of women in political positions.
The national consultant to UN Women, Prof Joy Ezeilo, said gender equality was one of the 13th identified priority issues for constitutional review by the 9th NASS legislative agenda; in that regard, both the Senate and House of Representatives worked to deliver on the constitutional amendments with the services of experts as consultants to provide technical assistance on the constitutional review process.
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Ezeilo revealed that the five Gender Bills, were among the 68 bills that were adopted for constitution review, adding that the bills were meant to give women the opportunity of inclusion and representation in governance.
Speaking on the voting pattern of the bills, the consultant disclosed that, “On the expansion of the scope of citizenship by registration, 83 out of 109 members of House of Senate voted for the bill to be passed into law, while in the House of Representatives, 135 said ‘YES’ and 143 said ‘NO’ to the bill. As regards to affirmative action for women in political party administration, 34 members of House of Senate said ‘YES’ and 53 said ‘NO’ to the bill. In the House of Representatives, 107 members voted ‘YES’ and 195 members voted ‘NO’ to the bill.
“On indigeneship rights, in the House of Senate, 90 members said ‘YES’. Meanwhile, only 98 said ‘YES’ to the bill at the House of Representatives, while 198 said ‘NO’ to the passage of the Bill.”
This is so sad, Ezeilo lamented, adding that the bills were measures to redress inequality in the political space. She however called on the incoming 10th NASS to see that the five bills are passed into law, as they resume office.
In the same vein, the executive director, WARDC, Dr Abiola Akiyode-Afolabi, disclosed that 13 African countries have mandated reserved seats for female federal lawmakers. For instance, South Africa reserved 46 per cent; Senegal, 41 per cent; Ethiopia, 38 per cent, Akiyode-Afolabi said, while calling on the incoming 10th NASS, to see that the five bills are passed into law.
Meanwhile, in her opening remarks, CEO of Women Radio 91.7, Toun Okewale Sonaiya, condemned the 9th NASS for not passing the five gender bills into law, adding that the 9th NASS has done the biggest damage to women agenda in Nigeria.