As part of the activities to mark the International Women’s Day, some Nigerian women have gone to the National Assembly in Abuja to protest the rejection of some bills seeking gender equality in the country.
The women, in their hundreds, gathered at the gate of the National Assembly, to ask the lawmakers to reconsider the bills rejected during the recent voting on the constitution amendment at both the Senate and the House of Representatives.
Five of the 68 bills, which sought to promote opportunities for women in politics, governance and the society at large, failed to get the required number of votes to be included in the proposed amendment to the 1999 Constitution.
The women began the protest on March 2, a day after the voting.
On Tuesday, the protesting women, carrying placards with various inscriptions, were led by civil society groups and men who expressed solidarity with them.
The Executive Director, Center for Democracy and Development (CDD), Idayat Hassaan, who spoke on their behalf, urged the lawmakers to reconsider the bills and give women equal rights.
“We constitute about 49 per cent of the population and we are all the same, they should sign our bill,” she said.
The former Inter-Party Advisory Council (IPAC), Peter Ameh, said as a gender advocate, he was in support of the bills. He called on the National Assembly to reconsider the bills, in order to get a greater Nigeria
“For Nigeria to move forward, we must include women in governance, we must give them equal opportunity in government,” he said.
Samson Itodo, the co-founder of YIAGA Africa, urged women to punish lawmakers who voted against the bill if they do not revisit the bill.
He insisted that women should ignore whatever the legislature said about passing the bills at the second phase of the constitution review process, saying the bills could be passed now.
“All they need to do is pass it now,” he said
Currently, no member of the National Assembly has addressed the grievance of the protesting women
The rejected bills
Among the bills rejected by the National Assembly on March 1were those seeking to reserve special seats for women at the National and State Houses of Assembly, provide for affirmative action for women in political party administration, and grant citizenship to foreign-born husbands of a Nigerian woman.
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