Nigeria has a woeful women representation in political and elective positions. At the National Assembly (comprising the Senate with 109 members and the House of Representatives with 360 members totaling 469 members of parliament), only 29 are women (six per cent of the total). There are, however, 440 men at the Nigeria National Assembly. A low women representation in leadership positions amounts to denying half of Nigeria’s population the voice & 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:
1. Deny citizenship to the foreign-born husband of a Nigerian woman but a Nigerian man's foreign-born wife gets automatic citizenship.
2. Deny Nigerians in the diaspora the right to vote.
3. Deny women the ability to take indigeneship of their husband's state after 5 years of being together.
4. Deny 35% appointed positions for women.
5. Deny women 35% affirmative action in party administration and leadership.
6. Reject specific seats for women in the National Assembly.
In view of the foregoing and bearing in mind women’s right as full citizens to participate in all spheres of life, in particular in governance and decision making based on the principles of non-discrimination, equality, and social justice.
1. Urgent re-convening, reconsideration, and immediate passage of the five women/gender-related bills: Bills number 35, 36, 37, 38, and 68.
2. The passing of the Gender and Equal Opportunities (GEOB) Bill, currently before the senate.
3. Resuscitation and the passage of the Bill on “Support for Women Participation in Elective and Appointive Positions Bill 2020 before the House of Representatives.
4. Immediate Domestication of the African Charters Protocol on the Rights of Women in Africa, which Nigeria ratified in 2004.
5. Immediate domestication of the UN Convention on Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), which Nigeria ratified in 1985.
Our resolve to continue this struggle is to push back on the misogynistic attitude of the NASS, the pattern of neglect of women concerns and disregard for womanity, severally women have been embarrassed by the gender insensitive practices of the law makers. The failure to address women issues through the gender bill shows that women are irrelevant.
We reject further dehumanization of Nigerian Women. The constitution should cure the defect and we will continue to protest to show our dissatisfaction.
We call on the Senate President and the Hon. Speaker to call an urgent meeting to discuss how to referees the wrong if not we shall continue to occupy the NASS.
Also, a call on all Nigerian men and women to join the rally, we will also have simultaneous rallies in Lagos, Calabar and other major cities.
No Women! No Nation!
Dr Abiola Akiyode-Afolabi
(Chairperson, Women in politics Forum