Notable male activists on Tuesday led a coalition of women groups and activists protesting and occupying the gate of the National Assembly, Abuja, over the rejection of all gender bills by the federal lawmakers.
Those at the second of such protest by women are Chairman of the Transition Monitoring Group (TMG) Executive Director of the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), Auwal Musa Rafsanjani; Executive Director Yiaga Africa, Samson Itodo; Senior Fellow Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD), Prof. Jibrin Ibrahim and the Executive Director, Peering Advocacy and Advancement Centre in Africa (PAACA), Ezenwa Nwagwu, a lawyer.
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Others include Mr. Dayo Olaide of the MacArthur Foundation; Programme Officer, CDD, Mr Austin Aigbe; Executive Director, Citizens Advocacy for Social and Economic Rights (CASER), Barrister Frank Tietie; Executive Secretary, National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), Anthony O. Ojukwu; former National Chairman, Inter-Party Advisory Council (IPAC), Peter Ameh, and activist Lemmy Ugbegbe among others.
They were unanimous in saying that the federal lawmakers acted in error and should reverse themselves immediately by passing the rejected bills into law and for Presidential assent.
Prof. Jibrin Ibrahim specifically said that the nation’s CSOs would find out those that specifically voted against the women bills and ensure that they lose their re-elections or other elective positions they may aspire for.
Other speakers at the event which was also used as part of activities for the International Women’s Day (IWD) 2022, also said that the 9th Assembly has reinforced the discrimination and political bias against women as enshrined in the 1999 constitution.
They said that by denying citizenship to a foreign-born husband of a Nigerian woman, and allows Nigerian men’s foreign-born wives to be awarded automatic citizenship, that the national assembly members have gone to the extreme.
Also speaking during the protest, the Programmes Manager, Women’s Rights Advancement and Protection Alternative (WRAPA), Yemisi Nathaniel, said Nigerian women were denied indigene through marriage.
She said, “They denied us 35 percent appointed positions for women and settling for 20 percent. They denied women affirmative action in party administration and leadership. They denied us specific seats for women in the National Assembly.
“In a bid to ensure that the National Assembly re-presents these Bills as a matter of urgency and ensure their passage; Nigerian women will continue to protest staying at the gates of National Assembly throughout the week, to continue in a more formidable manner from today 8th March, 2022 nationwide.”
Mrs. Nathaniel also said that they are mobilizing all professionals and market women to continue with the protest until the lawmakers pass the bills.
“We need urgent re-convening, reconsideration, and immediate passage of the five women/gender-related bills: Bills number 35, 36, 37, 38, and 68.
“The passing of the Gender and Equal Opportunities (GEOB) Bill, currently before the senate. Resuscitation and the passage of the Bill on “Support for women participation in elective and appointive positions bill 2020 before the House of Representatives.
“Immediate domestication of the African Charters Protocol on the Rights of Women in Africa, which Nigeria ratified in 2004. Immediate domestication of the UN Convention on Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), which Nigeria ratified in 1985,” she added in a petition addressed to Senate President Ahmad Lawan and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila.
Other leading women activists that spoke at the protest include Executive Director, Women Advocates Research and Documentation Center (WARDC), Dr. Abiola Akiyode-Afolabi; Country Director, Action Aid Nigeria (AAN), Ene Obi; CDD Director Idayat Hassan; and Executive Director, Change Managers (CM) International, Felicia Onibon among others.