Aggrieved groups under the umbrella of Women in Politics Forum (WPF) and Womenifesto, have said they would continue to occupy the National Assembly until Nigerian lawmakers reconsider the recently rejected gender-related bills.
The Co-convener, Womenifesto, Dr Abiola Akiyode-Afolabi and Chairperson, Women in politics Forum, Ebere Ifendu, in a recent statement urged all women to continue to support the rallies around the country, including in Abuja, Lagos and Calabar.
The groups called on the heads of the Senate and the House of Representatives to call an urgent meeting to discuss how to remedy the wrong done against the women, failing which they would continue to embark on the rallies.
Noting that Nigeria has a woeful women representation in political and elective positions, the women stated that at the National Assembly, comprising the Senate with 109 members and the House of Representatives with 360 members, only 29 are women, just 6 per cent of the total.
The groups added that there are 440 men at the assembly, explaining that a 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 the foreign-born husband of a Nigerian woman but a Nigerian man’s foreign-born wife gets automatic citizenship.
“They denied Nigerians in the diaspora the right to vote, denied women the ability to take ‘indigeneship’ of their husband’s state after 5 years of being together and denied 35 per cent appointed positions for women,” the women alleged.
According to them, it did not end there as women were denied 35 per cent affirmative action in party administration and leadership as well as the rejection of specific seats for women in the National Assembly.
The women groups demanded an urgent re-convening, reconsideration, and immediate passage of the five women/gender-related bills: Bills number 35, 36, 37, 38, and 68.
Furthermore, they called for the passing of the Gender and Equal Opportunities (GEOB) Bill, currently before the senate as well as resuscitation and the passage of the bill on, “Support for Women Participation in Elective and Appointive Positions Bill 2020 before the House of Representatives.
In addition, the groups called for the immediate Domestication of the African Charters Protocol on the Rights of Women in Africa, which Nigeria ratified in 2004 as well as 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’s concerns and disregard for ‘womanity’.
“Severally, women have been embarrassed by the gender insensitive practices of the lawmakers. The failure to address women issues through the gender bill shows that women are irrelevant.
“We reject further dehumanisation of Nigerian women. The constitution should cure the defect and we will continue to protest to show our dissatisfaction,” the women stated.