Women groups have issued a seven legislative day ultimatum to the Federal lawmakers to recommit and pass the five gender constitution bills.
This call was made at a World Press conference in Abuja following the suspension of the daily protests at the gates of the National Assembly.
The National Assembly had earlier in March, at a constitution review exercise voted against the five amendment bills termed ‘gender bills’ proposed to address certain issues affecting women through the constitution.
Since then, women and Gender groups occupied the gates of the federal parliament for 10 legislative days demanding reconsideration of the bills.
This was done as a movement termed #nigerianWomenOccupyNass under the auspices of WOMANIFESTO across national and sub-national level to ensure a coordinated response to the need for the passage of the five gender demands.
Although the Senate sent a delegation to address the women, no action was taken.
The House of Representatives on the other hand rescinded its rejection on three gender bills.
Yet, the daily protests by the women continued.
On Tuesday, March 22, during the usual protest, the women gained entrance into the federal parliament which forced a delegation from the green chamber led by the House Majority Leader, Alhassan Ado Doguwa to meet the protesters. He asked them to give the parliament time to work on the bills prompting a suspension of the protest.
Consequently, the women groups held a press conference on Wednesday giving a seven legislative day ultimatum.
“We are determined to hold them accountable to their promises to ensure that within seven legislative days, the gender bills are recommitted and positively voted for the inclusive growth and development of Nigeria,” Abiodun Akiyode-Afolabi said on behalf of the women groups
Should the federal lawmakers fail to act on the bills, the women groups promised to return to the gates and “we are going to occupy in a bigger way because they are giving us more time to plan from state to state.”
“It is not a matter of threat but affirming our presence in the country”, she added.
One of the bill is on citizenship as it seeks to amend section 26 of the 1999 Constitution to grant citizenship to foreign husbands of Nigerian women as is currently guaranteed in section 26(2)(a) for foreign wives of Nigerian men.
Another bill addresses section 31 and 318(1) of the 1999 constitution to allow women to claim their husbands’ state of origin after at least five years of marriage.
The third bill, on affirmative action, is to specifically amend section 223 of the Nigerian constitution to ensure women occupy at least 35% in political party administration and appointive positions.
There is the bill on Ministerial or Commissioner Nomination to amend Sections 147 and 192 of the constitution so that at least 35% of the nominees are women.
The fifth gender bill seeks to create ‘reserved seats’ by amending sections 48, 49 and 91 to create additional 37, 74, and 108 seats for women at the Senate, House of Representatives, and the State AAssembliesrespectively.
The women have seven demands requesting the attention of the government.
They include the urgent re-convening, reconsideration, and immediate passage of the all women/gender-related bills by the National Assembly and the passage of the Gender and Equal Opportunities (GEOB) Bill, currently before the Senate.
They also asked for resuscitation and passage of the Bill on support for Women Participation in Elective and Appointive positions, the immediate domestication of the African Charters Protocol on the Rights of Women in Africa, which Nigeria ratified in 2004 and the United Nations Convention on Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), ratified by Nigeria since 1985.
“As our representatives, we demand to know your voting pattern on sensitive matters of citizen rights and all the bills be passed by March 31st 2022 to gloriously end the women’s month,” Ms Akiyode-Afolabi said.
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