By Victor Habila, Kaduna
Coalition of women leaders in Kaduna state has called for equal representation of women at both Federal and state levels.
The coalition expressed dismay over the 1999 constitution, saying it has not improved the level of inclusion of women at all levels as the proportion of women in both elective and appointive positions has remained low.
The group made the declaration in their position paper to the North West zonal public hearing of the 1999 constitution review ongoing in Kaduna, presented by Jemilat Abidoye, a member of the coalition, during a Press Briefing in Kaduna which was in collaboration with United Nations (UN).
Abidoye said women should enjoy the same status as men, so that they can fully realize their human rights and have a meaningful impact on the society, adding that the Constitution does not adequately afford women the opportunity.
In her words; “It is no longer news that not much has been achieved to improve women’s participation and gender equality in leadership and decision-making positions despite a formal support for it through the National Gender Policy (2006) which recommends a benchmark of 35 percent in all sectors.
“We the People,” represent all Nigerians and recognizing that gender equality is a human right, as emphasized in the global Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) No. 5”.
“Women need to be fully represented in the Constitution, first by recognizing the use of gender-neutral and sensitive language in our Constitution. Masculine languages are gender-biased and undermine women and girls’ political participation, which further hinders inclusive governance in Nigeria. A Nigerian Constitution should correct these male-dominant narratives in legal drafting”.
The women, however, recommended that the ongoing constitutional review should ensure gender-neutral and sensitive language in our Constitution.
According to Abidoye, masculine languages are gender-biased and undermine women and girls’ political participation, which further hinders inclusive governance in Nigeria
She reiterated that the Constitution should also actualize equitable women representation in government, through at least 35% women representation in appointive offices at the Federal and State levels.
The women leaders coalition also proposed that the Constitutional review define Gender as a benchmark for Federal Character, explaining that the Constitution has already created the Federal Character as an Affirmative Action Mechanism that ensures the representation of margainalized groups in the country.
The texts reads; “Create additional special seats for women in the Federal and State Legislative Houses:
(a) In Senate: one seat for a woman from the 36 states and the Federal Capital
“(b) In the House of Representatives: two seats for women from the 36 states and the Federal Capital
“(c) In the States’ House of Assembly: one seat from each of the three senatorial districts.
“In addition to these Constitutional provisions, the National Gender Policy was also intended to increase the number of women in political office, party organs, and public life by setting a goal of 35 percent affirmative action to support women in all elected and appointed positions by 2015. But our current reality in 2021, is that women’s political representation is still below 10 percent. It is no longer news that women in Nigeria are yet to benefit from these provisions”, the group noted.