A civil society group, the Legal Defence and Assistance Project (LEDAP), on Tuesday, called on the National Assembly “to break the constitutional bias to ensure gender equality in political leadership.”
The group, which expressed dissatisfaction with the recent rejection of gender-based bills by the National Assembly, made the call in a statement commemorating this year’s International Women’s Day (IWD).
“LEDAP is particularly worried that the National Assembly missed the opportunity of breaking the bias of gender exclusion in the just concluded voting stage of the Constitutional amendment.
“Recall that the National Assembly on March 1, 2022 voted against five gender proactive bills seeking to promote gender equality in Nigeria’s political space. The Gender and Equal opportunities bill which sought to promote gender equality was also rejected by the Nigerian lawmakers in December 2021,” the statement signed by LEDAP’s senior programme manager, Pamela Okoroigwe, read in part.
Women and other gender-balance-oriented organisations have been staging protests at the National Assembly in Abuja since the rejection of the bills.
Meanwhile, the House of Representatives, on Tuesday, rescinded its decision on three gender-related constitution alteration bills.
The Senate, however, still needs to take a similar stance for the bills to be restored.
LEDAP said earlier on Tuesday that “the actions of the National Assembly clearly depicts that our lawmakers are yet to realise that gender exclusion is one of the major setback for economic development in Nigeria.”
It described as “very disheartening” that the National Assembly decided “to relegate women to the political background in the very month dedicated for celebrating the cultural, political and socio-economic achievements of women all over the globe.”
It noted that Nigerian women “are grossly underrepresented in political offices with a paltry 6.9 percent which is one of the lowest gender representation in the world.”
‘Women needed for progress’
Citing a report by the International Parliamentary Union (IPU), LEDAP said Nigeria currently ranks 184th out of 193 on the level of women’s political leadership in the world.
The statement also quoted LEDAP’s National Coordinator, Chinonye Obiagwu, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, as saying ”Our nation can only progress and attain higher development only when both men and women are entitled to equal opportunities”.
“Women constitute 50% of the country’s population and therefore deserve the space to participate in the political matters of the country,” the group added.
It called the Nigerian government “to break the bias of gender discrimination and promote gender equity through all its policies and laws whilst empowering women politically, socially and economically.”
“Together we hope to achieve a nation free from bias, stereotypes and discrimination against women and girls!” LEDAP added.
International Women’s Day
The International Women’s Day (IWD) is an annual commemoration of women’s cultural, political, and socioeconomic achievements.
It is observed annually on March 8 to raise awareness about problems like gender equality, reproductive rights, and violence and abuse against women.
This year’s edition is with the theme, ‘Gender Equality Today for a Sustainable Tomorrow’.
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