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Nigeria: National Assembly to amend Constitution to include gender parity, change laws infringing on women’s rights

The National Assembly has expressed its readiness to amend the Constitution to ensure gender parity and enact laws to improve the fortunes of women and girls in Nigeria.

This was just as the Senate resolved to expunge provisions of the law as contained in the Police Act, Federal Character Law, Electoral Act, Labour Act, Political Parties Constitutions, which infringes on the rights of women in Nigeria.

The decision was conveyed amidst resolutions reached on Wednesday during plenary when the Upper Chamber considered a motion on the 2021 International Women’s Day Celebration with the theme: “Women in Leadership: Achieving an equal future in a COVID-l9 world #Choose To Challenge”.

The motion was sponsored by Senator Betty Apiafi (PDP, Rivers West); and co-sponsored by Senators Aisha Dahiru Ahmed (Adamawa Central); Oluremi Tinubu (Lagos Central); Biodun Olujimi (Ekiti South); Akon Eyakenyi (Akwa Ibom South); Stella Oduah (Anambra North); Uche Lillian Ekwunife (Anambra South); and Chimaroke Nnamani (Enugu East).

Coming under Order 42 and 52 of the Senate Standing Rules, Senator Apiafi noted that the International Women’s Day which is celebrated on the 8th of March every year, “is a day set aside globally to celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women.”

“It is also a day to aspire and inspire people to act in the ongoing effort for gender equality. The day seeks to celebrate women’s contributions to society and raise awareness about the fight for gender parity,” she said.

According to the lawmaker, “Gender parity is a statistical measure that compares women and men through their income, education, and work hours among other points. It is also an important tool for policymakers striving towards gender equality.

“It is important to note that the global celebration of International Women’s Day is a time for reflection of how far women have come, advocacy for what is still needed, and action to continue breaking down barriers limiting gender equality.

“Aware that this is the 26th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and the theme for this year’s International Women’s Day Celebration is ‘Women in Leadership: Achieving an equal future in a COVID-l9 world #ChooseToChallenge”. A challenged world is an alert world, from challenge comes change and call out inequality.

“Further aware that the International Women’s Day (IWD) is a global celebration of women and their achievements. It is also a day that seeks to raise awareness of issues affecting women around the world, highlighting initiatives and campaigns focused on improving women’s lives and increasing gender parity (equality between men and women).

“Observes that Given the pandemic, we now more than ever before need to challenge pre-existing biases against women, some of which are systemic, political, cultural, and social. With the pandemic we have new barrier which include a increase in domestic Violence. unpaid care duties, unemployment and poverty. We have to be intentional about tackling these pre-existing and new biases to give women opportunities to thrive.

“Further Observes that Women are at the frontline of the covid-l9 pandemic as health care workers, care givers, innovators etc. Some of the most exemplary and effective national leaders in combatting the pandemic were women. The pandemic has highlighted both the importance of the contributions of women and the lopsided burden women carry.

“Concerned that even at the national level, gender inequality still exists. For instance, there is record of only one female Governor in Nigerian history and only one female deputy governor while the rest are men. The 9th National Assembly in Nigeria only has record of seven female senators while the rest are men. Again, there are only seven female ministers in Nigeria and they represent about 15.91% of the entire 44-member ministerial list. This yet again reflects the need for gender equality.

“Convinced that we can all choose to challenge and call out gender bias and inequality. We can choose to challenge stereotypes, broader perceptions, improve situations and celebrate women’s achievements. Collectively we can help to create an inclusive world.”

Contributing, Senator Stella Adaeze Oduah (PDP, Anambra North) called for the mainstreaming of women affairs in national planning.

She added that in prioritizing the empowerment of the Nigerian woman, “we must create an enabling environment where women can thrive show their innate skills and talent.”

Senator Olufemi Tinubu (APC, Lagos Central) while celebrating accomplished women such as the Vice President of the United States, Karmala Harris, and Nigeria’s Okonjo-Iweala who recently became the first female Director-General of the World Trade Organization, bemoaned the lack of opportunity for the womenfolk in African countries. 

 

Senator Laura Ladi Dadut (APC, Plateau South) said women continue to play a critical role in the pandemic world, adding that, “they bear more burden in the home and public.”

Accordingly, the Senate while urging employers of labour to give women equal opportunities to allow women achieve their full potentials, called on Nigerians to Maintain a gender equal mindset and Challenge gender stereotypes and biases.

The Upper Chamber also resolved to amend the Nigerian Constitution to include gender parity and to enact laws that will improve the lot of women and girls in Nigeria.

The Senate in its resolutions urged the National Assembly to Challenge and change laws that infringe on women’s rights such as the Police Act, Federal Character Law, Electoral Act, Labour Act, Political Party Constitutions.

It also urged the Ninth National Assembly and the Federal Government to Forge positive visibility for women and Celebrate women’s achievements; as well as domesticate all conventions and treaties of the African Union (AU) in respect of gender issues.

The Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, in his remark said that the provision of equal opportunities for women would on the long run be in the interest of Nigeria as a nation.

“I believe we are together in this with our women. It is in the interest of our nation that we work together to give our women proper opportunities for them to excel.

“And we must congratulate those who have achieved so much in public lap here as well as in business.

“We congratulate Nigerian women, we congratulate the entire nation, and we believe that we have to do more to give our women more opportunities to serve,” Lawan said.

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