Civil Society Organisations have tasked lawmakers in the incoming 10th National Assembly to give gender inclusiveness high priority.
The CSOs made this demand when they spoke with the News Agency of Nigeria, in Abuja on Tuesday, May 16, 2023.
Prof. Joy Ezeilo, the founder, Women Aid Collective (WACOL), said that although the 9th Assembly recorded some achievements, it failed to pay necessary attention to gender inclusiveness bills.
Ezeilo said that the assembly failed to pass five important gender bills despite appeals by stakeholders and urged the 10th Assembly to strive hard to change the narrative.
She named some of the bills to include a bill that sought to alter the Constitution to provide for special seats for women in the national assembly and affirmative action for women in political party administration.
Ezeilo said that the bills also included that which sought to allocate 35 per cent of political positions based on appointment to women and the creation of additional 111 seats in the National Assembly.
“It is very important to engage at every opportunity and especially for the 10th National Assembly representatives to begin from time to set the gender agenda.
“This is so they can buy into why not only does it make sense to enhance women’s participation but recognising importantly, that women have a right to participate in the government of their country.
“We run a democracy, and for us to have a sustainable constitutional, democracy and development, we need both men and women,” she said.
Ezeilo said that the 10th Assembly must prioritise issues of gender equality to address the mistakes of the past.
“If they actually look at all those gender-related bills and they handle it, they would have solved half of the problem of Nigeria in a way.
“This is because it is all about systemic, structural inequalities and those inequalities affect every other person,” she said.
Ezeifo said that evidence had shown that if there were more women in leadership especially as parliamentarians, they would make laws that would be sensitive to all especially different categories of persons.
“Beyond this, you can see the decimal performance of women in this assembly. We just have three female elected senators; 14 or 15 in the House of Representatives, there are about 15 Houses of Assembly that don’t have even a female representative.
“And then you ask yourself given the position of Nigeria in the comity of nations as a distinct leader in African Union, leading in ECOWAS and hosting ECOWAS.
“Nigeria will always come on the bottom of every assessment in the World Economic Forum Assessment and the indices in terms of the Gender Gap report; they use politics, they use health, they use education and we came last with regards to the issue of gender,” she said.
Ezeilo appealed to the lawmakers to make sure they rewrite history about the gender bills.
Also, Mrs. Ebere Ifendu, the President, Women in Politics Forum (WIPF) expressed disappointment over the number of female elected lawmakers for the 10th Assembly.
“We are relying on our men. And we need you to partner with us. The first bill that you should be presenting is a collective bill, it should be the five gender bills. Let’s have a difference from the 10th Assembly.
“We developed a document, Governance, and Gender for an Inclusive Nigeria. We have three organisations that worked on that document, the Women in the Politics Forum, Youth Hub and Inclusive Friends.
“We seek the support of the male legislators. We are counting on all of them to vote when these bills will be represented.”