Pass GEO, electoral bills into law- Women group tasks NASS

Women under the auspices of the 100 Women Lobby Group has called on the National Assembly (NASS) to pass the Gender and Equal Opportunities Bill (GEO bill) the Electoral Bill and other bills that will increase women’s participation in politics into law.

Its president Felicia Onibon, made the call in Abuja while briefing journalists during a national strategic advocacy on women’s participation in politics and governance conference held with theme: 2023 A New Dawn for Women’s voices”.

According to her, there is need for Nigerian Constitution to explicitly recognize and guarantee the rights of women and girls.

“Without explicit provisions in the Constitution, laws and policies developed to address women’s issues – such as gender-based discrimination and gender inequality – will be ineffective.

“In particular, we are concerned that the Gender and Equal Opportunities Bill and other Bills to increase women’s participation in politics are given urgent attention in the National Assembly,” she said.

She expressed concerns on the rising cost of goods especially food items, saying the country is heading towards being impoverished if drastic measures were not taken to address the scourge.

“Confronted with the spectre of Nigeria becoming impoverished by 2022 due to food scarcity, the Nigerian Government at all levels should put a human face to their efforts to alleviate the plights of the citizens across the Country.

“The food security challenges have been heightened by banditry, kidnapping and herdsmen-farmers’ clashes and insurgency in different parts of the Country. Women, girls and children are having to bear a large proportion of the effects of these challenges,” she added.

She therefore demanded for the Constitution to be written in gender-neutral and sensitive language. The use of “he’ is gender-biased and undermines women and girls’ participation in public and private spheres, further hindering inclusive governance in Nigeria. The reviewed Constitution can create an enabling legal environment and reinforce norms that promote gender equity.

She further called on the government and security operatives to urgently address the insecurity bedevilling the nation as its effects would be more on food security, women and children.

On the current constitution review, Onibon also stressed the need to ensure that the rights of women and girls were recognised and guaranteed through the Gender and Equal Opportunities Bill.

“The Constitution of Nigeria must ensure equitable women representation in government through a minimum of 35 per cent women representation in elective and appointive offices at the Federal, State and Local levels.

” Change must begin with the highest law of the land, which is the Constitution. We can serve as an example for gender equity in West Africa and the world by guaranteeing 50% of our Constitution,” she said.

Speaking at the conference, the National President of the Women in Politics Forum (WIPF) Ebere Ifendu, appealed to the national Assembly to reconsider the proposed increase in the cost of campaign funds to enable more women participate in politics.

Ifendu, also stressed the need for gender parity in political representation both in parliament and at every level of governance in Nigeria.

Similarly, Mrs Adetayo Erinle, who is also the Executive Director, Tabitha Cumi Foundation stressed the need for the domestication of the Violence against Persons Prohibition Bill and the Sexual Offences Bill into Law to reduce prevalence of Sexual and Gender Based Violence (SGBV).

On his part, Mr Tom Odemwingie, Executive Director, Agricultural Agenda Nigeria Initiative (AANI) called on the groups to sensitise electorates on the need to resist monetary or material gains in exchange for votes.

Odemwingie, advised electorates not to “sell their votes for gains that will jeopardise the future of their children and the nation.