• Friday, June 21, 2024
businessday logo

BusinessDay

Political inclusion: Women vow to fight on

National Assembly seeks self-serving budget hike amid cost-of-living crisis

Some women groups in Nigeria have said they are determined to continue to press for the implementation of the 35 percent of elective positions for women in the country, as prescribed by the United Nations after the Beijing World Conference on women in 1995.

The renewed agitation followed the recent rejection of the pro-women bills during the voting on the amendments to the 1999 Constitution last week.

Amid protests, the House of Representatives, on Tuesday, made a U-turn as it decided to reconsider three out of five gender-based bills earlier rejected.

Those to be revisited are the bills to “expand the scope of citizenship by registration,” “provide for affirmative action for women in political party administration,” and “provide criteria for qualification to become an indigene of a state in Nigeria.”

But the other two bills seeking to “provide for special seat for women in the National and State Houses of Assembly” and “give women a quota in the federal and state executive councils or ministerial and commissionership seats” were dropped.

The aggrieved groups, under the umbrella of Women in Politics Forum (WPF) and Womenifesto, are seeking the heads of the Senate and the House of Representatives to call an urgent meeting to discuss how to remedy the wrong done to women, failing which they would continue to embark on the rallies.

They bemoaned the poor representation of women in the National Assembly and other public offices in the country despite women forming the bulk of the eligible voters.

According to them, the in-balance has affected governance, decision-making and retarded development in the country, and the situation amounts to denying half of Nigeria’s population the voice and opportunity to contribute to governance and development.

They said, “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 five years of being together and denied 35 percent appointed positions for women.”

Read also: Reps make U-turn, reconsider rejected pro-women bills

In a joint press statement Monday by Abiola Akiyode-Afolabi, co-convener, Womenifesto, and Ebere Ifendu, chairperson of WPF, expressed dissatisfaction with the action of the lawmakers and urged all women to continue to support the rallies around the country, including in Abuja, Lagos and Calabar.

Rahinatu Muhammed, national women leader of the Action Democratic Party, said the rejection of the gender-based bills by the National Assembly was a setback for the nation’s democracy and should be condemned by well-meaning Nigerians.

She added that the women were not asking for equality with men by seeking to contribute their quarter towards national development, stressing that it was increasingly difficult for women to take part in politics.

“We are having fewer women in politics and decision making these days. A lot of us face several challenges while in politics; there is always this assumption that females in politics are wayward and so on.”

Tinu Mabadeje, a politician and entrepreneur, blamed female leaders, including wives of governors, for not doing enough mobilisation, lobby and campaign towards pressuring the lawmakers to pass the bills.

“I blamed women at the top – the First Lady, wives of governors and women leaders – if they had mobilised women across the country – market women, women lawyers, those in the academia, all sectors – and storm the National Assembly to pressure the lawmakers, progress could have been made.”