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Gender Parity given Priority in Next Constitution Review, Despite Opposition From Male Senators

Many male Nigerian senators, Tuesday, voted to oppose including gender parity in the Nigerian constitution.

Despite their opposition, however, the Senate resolved to ensure that gender equality is a priority in the next constitutional amendment.

During the debate on the matter, none of the male senators who voted against it spoke against the proposal. The few who spoke supported the proposal.

The voting was also done by a voice vote, thus making it difficult to identify which particular senators opposed the gender equality proposal.

The eventual resolution of the senators was one of the six resolutions adopted by the lawmakers during plenary.

The Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, ruled that the motion to include gender equality in the next constitutional amendment be adopted despite 'nays' from many male senators when the prayer was put to vote.

This reporter, who witnessed the voting, noted that the 'nays' were louder and appeared the majority, suggesting majority of the male-dominated Senate rejected the gender equality proposal.

Less than 10 per cent of the 109-member Senate are women.

History Of Rejection

The eighth Senate in 2017 rejected an amendment to the constitution that sought 35 per cent affirmative action for women as ministers.

The past Senate also rejected a bill seeking gender equality and equal opportunities.

The Tuesday Debate

The lawmakers, on Tuesday, as part of the resolution, also urged all political parties to make it a policy to give women equal opportunities in all elective and appointive positions.

They urged employers of labour to give women equal opportunities to allow them achieve their true potentials.

These resolutions were sequel to a point of order raised by the chairperson of the Senate Committee on Women Affairs, Betty Apiafi.

She raised the motion as part of the celebration of International Women's Day (IWD), an annual global event marked every March 8.

The IWD seeks to celebrate women around the world, promote gender quality as well as eliminate gender stereotypes.

The theme for this year's IWD was #EachforEqual. This year's event hoped to bridge the gap of gender bias and to promote gender parity.

Adamawa senator, Aishatu Dahiru, urged the Senate and the federal government to encourage the participation of women in all spheres.

She also urged the male lawmakers to support gender parity during the constitutional amendment.

In the same vien, Stella Oduah (PDP, Anambra) asked the government to put in place, laws that protect the woman and girl child and ensure women inclusion in all aspects.

Chimaroke Nnamani (PDP, Enugu) noted that women bear a huge part of poverty, ignorance and diseases ravaging the country today.

This is even as he kicked against workplace harassment, unequal pay and genital mutilation.

He also proposed that in the Senate, two positions be reserved for women per geo-political zone. And for reps, two positions for women per state.

In his remark, Mr Lawan said it is only fair that women get the fairest share of participation in governance with the kind of percentage of the population they occupy.

"For what the parties need to do, I am sure the parties are getting wiser. No party can afford to neglect the women of Nigeria.

"Whether there will be constitutional review or not, I am sure there will be need for constitutional review to ensure that women in Nigeria are given better opportunities for them to occupy the rightful place that they should have, in governance particularly.

"I am also concerned about women who are mostly not mentioned, the rural women, mostly farmers and traders. We need to think about them, not only about Political offices but empowering them because when you educate a woman, you educate a nation," he said.

The Senate also urged corporate organisations to ensure parity in top management positions and the board room.

The lawmakers also celebrated all women and girls who have made outstanding achievements.

The Senate recently announced a constitutional amendment committee headed by the Deputy Senate President, Ovie Omo-Agege, to review the various calls for the amendment of the Nigerian Constitution and commence the process of amendment.


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