House of Reps to Revisit Five Rejected Gender Bills


While addressing a delegation from Women Advocates Research and Documentation Centre (WARDC), the NCAA, GECORN, Womanifesto and other Gender Bills Response Cluster members (GBRC) in Abuja, the Deputy Speaker of the House of Reps, Hon. Benjamin Okezie Kalu assured Nigerians of the 10th Assembly’s resolve to reconsider the five rejected gender bills.

The five bills initially did not fly in the 9th National Assembly because they could not secure the required majority votes. Hon. Kalu highlighted the appropriate sections in the constitution where amendments were sought by the women and said it was necessary to increase women’s participation in politics.

He maintained that in a country like Nigeria where women and girls make up 49.32 percent of the population, their number should also reflect in the proportion of representation in the majority of institutions; including the legislature, which has only 4 percent of women.

He said: “We are all aware that any society that is desirous of achieving equitable development, cannot sidestep such fundamental matters as gender equity and women empowerment. This is particularly important in a country like Nigeria where women and girls make up 49.32 percent of the population. In real terms, this should reflect in the proportion of representation in the majority of our institutions, including the legislature where we have only 4 percent of women.

“The 10th Assembly has the opportunity to further the rights of women, and improve female participation in the political space but this is dependent on all stakeholders playing their role through advocacy for the five gender bills that recommend 35 percent affirmative action for women in political party administration, expand the scope of citizenship by registration, reserve a quota for women in Executive cabinet positions, reserve seats for women in Federal and state Legislative Houses and expand state citizenship rights, and all other such bills.

“I am glad that your organisations are commencing the gender bills advocacy early enough, as we are at the point where all hands need to be on deck for us to successfully crystallise these rights.

“I can assure you that having come at the right time, some of these sections that you are concerned about in our constitution like section 26(2) paragraph 8; section 31 and section 318(1) to allow women claim their husband’s state at least after 5 years of marriage; section 223 to ensure that women occupy 35 percent in the spirit of affirmative actio, and section 147 that has to do with ministerial and commissioners appointment; section 192 that preaches for 35 percent for women to be nominated as well as reserved seats in section 48, 49, 91 to create additional 37, 74 and 108 seats for women in both Senate and House of Representatives, all these sections will be under the review that we are about to commence.

“We will find out why it did not sail through the last time, and find how we can use legislative interventions to make even the ones that we pushed to Mr. President that were returned without the Presidential assent, be attended to. You can count on us that this parliament is the people’s parliament, and we will work together with you to make sure that this equity, this equality, the inclusion that you seek becomes yours if not completely but comfortably solved.

“I’m happy that I’m the chairman of the constitution review committee of the House of Representatives. I believe there’s a lot women have done to build people like us to greatness, and if given the opportunity anywhere, they can do a lot of greatness towards nation-building.”

The founding Director of WARDC, Abiola Akiyode Afolabi spoke and explained that the Groups were in the House to seek support of the Deputy Speaker in the reintroduction of the gender bills.

“We, the members of the Gender Bills Response Cluster, seek your support to reintroduce discussion on the five gender bills on the floor of the House. As you are aware, as part of the Constitution Review process, the 9th National Assembly voted against five amendment bills, popularly known as the “gender bills,” aimed at using our apex law — the Constitution — to address certain issues affecting women, and in so doing, promote women’s rights in relation to citizenship, indigeneship, and political inclusion and participation,” she said.











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