By Maureen okpe
The five gender bill clusters consisting of Women Advocates Research and Documentation Center (WARDC), Womamifesto, National Coalition on Affirmative Action (NCAA), Gender and Constitution Reform Network (GECORN),SAGE and Gender Mobile is set to launch an advocacy Hashtag and Signature Campaign,on the rejected five gender bills on thursday.
In a signed statement by the Founder/Executive Director WARDC, Dr Abiola Akiyode-Afolabi, the campaign aims to addresses key gender gaps in the 1999 Constitution to ensure adequate awareness of the deficiencies in the constitution and to draw the attention of lawmakers and public to the need to have a representative constitution
These five gender bills include:Bill to provide special seats for women at national assembly, Affirmative action for women in political party administration- 35 percent of executive positions, Another bill sought to grant citizenship to foreign-born husbands of a Nigerian woman. Already, a Nigerian man’s foreign-born wife is automatically a Nigerian citizen, A bill on indigenship- married women should have a choice on state of origin and have access and the bi8ll seeking Inclusion of at least ten percent affirmative action in favour of women in Ministerial appointments.
Recall that in 2022, the 9th National Assembly threw out these bills, leading Womanifesto, a feminist non-political, women focused group with over 500 organisations across Nigeria, to protest against the National Assembly after the bills were rejected.
The gender cluster group was formed after this rejection and have also continued with advocacy visits and media awareness on the bills and their impact on Nigerian women.
“The United Nations has repeatedly emphasized that gender equality is not only a fundamental human right but also a necessary foundation for a peaceful and prosperous society (UN Women). Yet here we are – half our population marginalized due to outdated laws and societal norms,” the statement noted.
“Despite being half of the population and voters’ register, the numbers remain dismal. The constitution itself contains provisions that perpetuate gender bias, such as the silent stance on women’s rights to confer citizenship. There is an urgent need to address these disparities and ensure gender equality and inclusion of women in all spheres of life,” it added.
The overarching goal of this movement is to secure the passage of the gender bills through constitutional amendments by 2024, to foster women’s rights, while the campaign aims to ignite public discourse through the hashtags and signature campaign launch. Targeting various stakeholders, including political leaders, legislators, women in politics, and the general public.
Speakers at the launch tomorrow include the Deputy Speaker, Rt Hon Benjamin Kalu, Rt. Hon Nkiru Onyejeocha And other key influencers are expected to join the launch.
The event will also bring together key players in the social media and influencers in Nigeria. Women’s representation in leadership roles is dishearteningly low, both in elective and appointive positions.
Women Advocates Research and Documentation (WARDC) is a non-governmental organisation established in the year 2000 in Nigeria, to support the promotion of gender equity, laws, and policies strengthening, and have a long history of mobilising joint actions for addressing issues on the rights of women in Nigeria.