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IWD 2022: Reconsider gender bills, LCCI tells NASS

THE Lagos Chamber of Commerce & Industry (LCCI) has called on the National Assembly to reconsider its earlier stance on three women-related bills.

The legislature had last week rejected three bills while voting on proposed amendments to the 1999 Constitution.

The bills are those that seek to expand the scope of citizenship by registration, provide criteria for qualification to become an indigene of a state in Nigeria and establish 35 per cent affirmative action for women in political party administration.

However, in commemoration of this year’s International Women’s Day, the LCCI, today, urged the NASS to look into the rejected bills for a possible review and acceptance for inclusive governance.

According to a statement signed by its President, Asiwaju (Dr) Michael Olawale Cole, the body said “Women’s rights are human rights!”.

Cole, however, urged the legislature to enact more local laws that support more women’s participation according to international provisions.

Read full statement below:

THE Lagos Chamber of Commerce & Industry, a gender-sensitive organization is pleased to congratulate women all over the world on this year’s International Women’s Day celebrations today, 8th of March 2022.  The theme of this year’s edition, “Gender Equality Today for a Sustainable Tomorrow” provides us an opportunity to join voices with people around the world and shout our message for equal rights and that “Women’s rights are human rights!” This year’s theme is all about recognizing and amplifying the important role women and girls around the world play in addressing climate change for a more sustainable future.

Beyond the speeches and celebrations that mark the annual International Women’s Day, we use this medium to call for critical policy and social reforms that put gender equality and sustainability at the center of governance, politics, and international affairs. Women should be given equal access to resources for them to add more value to society. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) revealed that if women farmers had equal access to productive resources, their farm yields would increase by 20 to 30 percent. This could provide enough food to keep 100 to 150 million people from hunger and thereby reducing global hunger to 17 percent.

At all levels of government, women’s representation and leadership appear to drive better performance and more sensitive to environmental outcomes. At the local level, women’s participation in managing natural resources has led to more equitable and inclusive resource management and better conservation outcomes in Nigeria. In public service,women have proved to be less corrupt than their men folks who have been in the news for the wrong reasons.

In line with global trend, Nigerian women constitute nearly half of the population of the country. But despite the major roles they play with their population size, women roles in the society are yet to be given the recognition they deserve. This is due to some cultural stereotypes, abuse of religion, traditional practices, and patriarchal societal structures. In Nigeria, about 51 percent of women are involved in voting during elections. Despite this, women are still under-represented in both elective and appointive positions. The extant National Gender Policy (NGP) recommended 35% affirmative action and sought for a more inclusive representation of women with at least 35% of both elective political and appointive public service positions.

Recently, both chambers of the National Assembly were presented with a “Bill for an Act to Alter the Provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 to Provide for Special Seats for Women at the National and State Houses of Assembly”. It was saddening to see the Bill rejected by majority votes which has led to pockets of protests by women groups across the country. We urge the National Assembly to reconsider the rejected bills for a possible review and acceptance for inclusive governance. 

We commend the lawmakers for accepting the “Bill for an Act to Alter the Provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 to Provide a Minimum Percentage for Women in Ministerial or Commissioner Nominees.” We urge the government to leverage this Bill passage to deliberately work toward the inclusion of women in governance as this would give Nigeria international recognition and relevance. Political parties should also be sensitive to the provisions of this Bill towards ensuring that deliberate steps are taken to include more women in the running of the parties and offer elective opportunities to women.

Nigeria, being a signatory to many international treaties that support women in politics like the 35 percent affirmative action, should enact more local laws that support more women participation according to international provisions. 

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