Speaker of the ECOWAS Parliament Sidie Tunis has called for a constitutional review in member states, as the best solution to attain affirmative action for women in the sub-region.
His call came as he pledged to do all, in his power, to bring the quest to fruition, pointing out that the enhancement of the powers of the Parliament stipulated a 30 per cent female representation.
Tunis, who made this known while briefing newsmen shortly after opening the Parliament’s delocalised meeting in Liberia, stressed that starting direct election into the ECOWAS parliament would also require a similar review of the constitution.
“It is practically impossible to implement an affirmative action for women without first undertaking a holistic overhaul of the national constitutions of Member States and the parliament,” he said.
He, however, pointed out that at the regional level, implementing direct election of representatives into parliament would better ensure that 30 per cent of the lawmakers were women.
The Speaker assured that parliament was deeply committed to fostering the implementation of direct election, as well as Affirmative Action.
Tunis also disclosed that the transition committee for the implementation of the policy was already in place and had started sitting since December 2020.
“I think the first thing is changing national laws, because it did not envisage direct election into the parliament.
“I assure you that this Committee will continue to work until we are able to achieve our set objectives.”
“If we are successful in the Direct Universal Suffrage, it will become mandatory on every election to ensure that there are provisions made for 30 per cent female representation.
“So basically, if we achieve the Direct Universal Suffrage we are also achieving the 30 per cent quota.
“But the most important thing is that the 30 per cent will be the base point, and that does not stop females from contesting the remaining 70 per cent.
“So, in other words, we may even end up in a situation where we have 50 per cent women and 50 per cent men in the ECOWAS Parliament.
“So, that is the reason why I am working very hard to ensure Direct Universal Suffrage,” he said.
According to Tunis, 25 years after the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, which was supposed to be an unprecedented step forward for women’s rights, women’s representation in the world’s parliaments has only increased from 11% to 23.5%.
He added that at this rate, achieving parity and attaining 50 per cent women representation in Parliament in the next 25 years, would be difficult.
Tunis, however, noted that it was to this cause that the fifth legislature, under his leadership, was pushing for the implementation of the supplementary Act, an already existing law that would allow a mandatory 30 per cent of women in the ECOWAS Parliament.