Fred Itua and Ndubuisi Orji, Abuja
Seven female senators and their 11 counterparts in the House of Representatives have called on President Muhammadu Buhari to forward an Executive Bill to the two chambers of the National Assembly on 35 percent affirmative action for women in government.
They decried repeated frustrations from their male counterparts in both chambers whenever issues affecting women were brought up for consideration during constitution amendment exercises.
The lawmakers expressed their views, yesterday, in Abuja during a workshop for national and states assemblies women legislators on gender legislation and other legal instruments, organised by Professor Abubakar Suleiman-led National Institute of Legislative and Democratic Studies (NILDS) and United Nations Women.
NILDS Director General, Suleiman, had while welcoming participants, revealed that women constitute only 11.2 percent of the membership of both chambers of the National Assembly. He said women are frequent victims of various forms of violence.
He said: “Women are integral part of any society. They hold the family and they make up the major part of the informal sector. The exclusion of women in politics has been seen of late as a setback in the economic development of the country. As it stands, women constitute only 11.2 percent of the National Assembly, despite having more number in the country.
“Women are sexually violated. The livelihoods of women were extremely threatened during the COVID-19 lockdown. Checks also revealed that there were cases of domestic violence against women. There were no clear measures to address violence against women during the lockdown period.
“This is why this workshop is important. It focuses on active women in politics and come up with legislations that address the needs of women.”
Leading the charge, Oluremi Tinubu said male politicians will continue to frustrate any move to give women a special place in government without the intervention of the president.
She urged President Buhari to send an Executive Bill to that effect and prevail on the leadership of the National Assembly to pass it. She recalled how previous attempts were made during constitution amendments, but male lawmakers truncated the move.
“We have been talking and this is not working. The president needs to send an Executive Bill to the National Assembly. That is the only way we can make progress. Men will not freely give us our right place,” she said.
House of Representatives Deputy Chief Whip, Nkeiruka Onyejeocha, said everything must be done to guarantee the place of women in politics.
Nkeiruka, who represented the Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila, said: “There are still too many obstacles restricting women in Nigeria. This is more prevalent and damaging in politics and governance. We keep women from participating in governance. The society suffers because of this. It often feels as if our best days are behind us. I wholeheartedly support women’s participation in politics. I support and endorse moves to help women in government.”
In a related development House of Representatives, yesterday, called on the federal, states and local governments to make concerted efforts to eliminate violence against women.
This followed the adoption of a motion, sponsored under matters of urgent public importance, during plenary by the Ddeputy Chief Whip, Nkiruka Onyejeocha, on the “International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.”
Onyejeocha, in the motion, said the day presents an opportunity to honour women organisations as “first responders and acknowledge their leadership roles in ending violence.
“The day is also to activate United Nations’ wide mobilisation under the umbrella of the 16 days of activism against gender-based violence campaign for the promotion of zero tolerance across all spheres of society, including Nigeria.”