A coalition of women groups under the auspices of the 100 Women Lobby Group has appealed to the National Assembly to pass all gender sensitive bills into law, to enable more development in Nigeria.
National Coordinator of the group Felicia Onibon, made the call in a statement made available to the media in Abuja.
The bills include an Equal Opportunities Commission (Establishment) Bill, 2020; Gender and Equal Opportunities, Abuse and Administration Bill 2012; Affirmative Action (Equal Opportunities for Women) Bill 2012; Gender and Equal Opportunities Bill 2015; Women Empowerment and Gender Equality Bill 2015; Women Participation in Elections Support Bill, 2018.
“Note that this does not take into consideration, the number of proposals on affirmative action not considered by the National Assembly,” the statement said.
The statement also expressed concerns that the electoral System in Nigeria has not been fair to women, saying that this contributes to women’s underrepresentation in Nigeria’s legislature.
“Nigeria is considered the worst performer in the West African Region when looking at the representation of women in parliament and the second-worst after Eritrea in the whole of the African Continent. This is sad and does not speak well of Nigeria as a Nation with Women occupying only 21 out of 469 seats in the National Assembly.
“The situation is worse at the State level with the national percentage of State seats being 4.5% with women occupying 45 of the 990 seats in all State Houses of Assemblies,” the statement noted.
It added that, “On a general note, Nigeria women have paid their dues in all sectors and human endeavors including politics. Nigeria Women have also shown integrity and capacity in governance.”
The statement lamented that despite women’s contributions, they were still excluded in mainstream politics and governance, stating that available records show that the presence of the few women in the National Assembly led to the proposition of critical actions to promote affirmative action and equal opportunities for women.
“This low number of women in the Assembly is a factor for the lack of support or push for these bills. In a space where voting numbers matter, the numerical presence of women is key.
“Today, we are asking the Additional Seats Bill and all other gender-sensitive bills that are receiving attention at the National Assembly to get the support of all members so that Nigeria can move forward in all aspects of life.
“Our prayer is for our legislators to consider working to effect change by creating enabling environment for Nigeria Women through the passage of these bills and the inclusion of women-focused issues in the constitution”, the statement added.