SOURCE: Premium Times


Scores of Nigerian women protested Wednesday at the National Assembly against the rejection of several bills seeking gender equality in the country.

They trooped out in hundreds and asked the lawmakers to revisit the gender bills, accusing the lawmakers of choosing to deny women the opportunity of inclusion and representation in governance by voting against the bills.

PREMIUM TIMES reported how the lawmakers on Tuesday voted on the 68 bills that seek to alter the Constitution.

Of the 68 legislations, about five bills sought to promote more opportunities for women in political parties, governance and the society at large.

All five bills were rejected.

One of the bills sought to grant citizenship to foreign-born husbands of a Nigerian woman. Already, a Nigerian man’s foreign-born wife is automatically a Nigerian citizen.

Another bill sought to allocate 35 per cent of political positions based on appointment to women. Another legislation sought to create special seats for women in National and State Assemblies.

The women, led by many civil society groups, carried placards to express their grievances.

They said the National Assembly has clearly said it does not want progress in the country.

The women were addressed by the Minority Leader of the Senate, Eyinnaya Abaribe, who said he supported the bills but was outvoted.

He asked the women to seek the voting records to know which lawmakers voted against the bills.

“I will pass your message on to the Senate President and I will urge him to come and respond to you personally.

“I voted for everything for women. I voted for everything that you wanted.

“The record of the voting is a public document. It is your right to ask for it from the Senate President and the Speaker and publish it so that everybody will know,” he said.

A few principal officers, Ajayi Borroffice and Sabi Abdullah, also appeared on behalf of the Senate to address the protesters but they insisted that they would only speak to the Senate President and the Speaker of the House of Representatives.

Plateau senator, Nora Daduut, also attempted to address the women but she was shut down by the protesters.

Abiola Akiyode-Afolabi, a lawyer and civil rights activist, told PREMIUM TIMES that the lawmakers are not taking women’s issues seriously.

“Women have questions that we want to ask them. Why is it that in this country, we seem not to be relevant because the attitude we saw yesterday, the issues that were treated, show that we are not taken seriously.

“This is 2022. The country should have grown up by now. We want to find out from them. Issue of citizenship is a major problem for them.”

On her part, Cynthia Mbamalu, Director of Programmes at Yiaga Africa, said the Civil Society groups will demand the voting records of the constitution amendment bills.

Earlier the women, in a statement, said the men of the ninth assembly have reinforced the discrimination and political bias against women as enshrined in the constitution by:

-Denying citizenship to a foreign-born husband of a Nigerian woman. (While it allows Nigerian men’s foreign-born wives to be awarded automatic citizenship);

-Denying Nigerian women indigeneity through marriage;

-Denying 35 per cent appointed positions for women and settling for 20 per cent;

‘Denying women affirmative action in party administration and leadership; and

-Denying specific seats for women in the National Assembly.

They, therefore, demanded that all gender bills be reconsidered as they will benefit not just women but Nigeria as a whole.

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