Some Nigerian Women, under the name “Women Manifesto’’, on Monday said that they would continue to occupy the National Assembly (NASS) until women aspirations of gender equality in all elective positions are met.
The Co-Convener of the group, Dr Akiyode-Afolabi Abiola, made this position known on behalf of the women in a statement in Abuja on Monday.
According to Abiola, Nigeria has a woeful women representation in political and elective positions.
She decried the situation at the National Assembly, comprising the Senate with 109 members and the House of Representatives with 360 members, totaling 469 members of parliament, with 29 women amounting to just 6 per cent of the total number.
“There are 440 male representatives in NASS, with just 29 females, this is unacceptable as low women representation in leadership positions amounts to denying half of Nigeria’s population the voice and opportunity to contribute to governance and development.
“The male-dominated legislature recently rejected an attempt to recalibrate this imbalance, thereby introducing a cog in the path to addressing age-long discrimination against women, which also has stunted development.
“On the first day of women’s history month, March, the Nigerian legislature voted to deny citizenship to foreign-born husbands of Nigerian women, but a Nigerian man’s foreign-born wife gets automatic citizenship.
“NASS also denied Nigerians in the diaspora the right to vote, denied women the ability to take indigeneship of their husband’s state after five years of being together, denied 35 per cent appointed positions for women.
“It denied women 35 per cent affirmative action in party administration and leadership, rejected specific seats for women in the NASS,’’ Abiola said.
According to her, in view of the foregoing, NASS must bear it in mind that women have the right as full citizens to participate in all spheres of life, particularly in governance, decision making based on the principles of non-discrimination, equality and social justice.
Abiola, however, demanded on behalf of women, urgent re-convening of members of the parliament, reconsideration and immediate passage of the five women/gender-related bills.
She listed the Bills as numbers 35, 36, 37, 38, and 68.2, adding that the passing of the Gender and Equal Opportunities (GEOB) Bill, currently before the Senate, will be a good one for the women.
Other demands are: resuscitation and the passage of the Bill on Support for Women Participation in elective and appointive positions Bill 2020 before the House of Representatives.
Abiola, on behalf of the women, also demanded for immediate domestication of the African Charters Protocol on the Rights of Women in Africa, which Nigeria ratified in 2004.
Also, immediate domestication of the UN Convention on Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), which Nigeria ratified in 1985.
She said that the women have resolved to continue with their struggle aimed at pushing back on the misogynistic attitude of the NASS, as well as the pattern for which women had been neglected and disregarded for the concerns of women folks.
Abiola said that women had severally been embarrassed by the gender insensitive practices of the lawmakers, adding that failure to address women issues through the gender bill shows that women are irrelevant to NASS.
Abiola said that the generality of women rejected further dehumanization, adding that the constitution should take care of the defect, and that if not, “we will continue to occupy NASS to show our dissatisfaction.”
She called on the Senate President and Speaker, House of Representatives, to call an urgent meeting to discuss how to right the wrongs and make women relevant in the scheme of things in Nigeria.