Gender bills: NASS has declared war on us – Nigeria’s Women groups cries to the world | NN NEWS

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•Debunk reps spokesman claims that lobbying was done late • Provide evidence of three years engagement with lawmakers  • Demand all bills be passed by March 31st to end women’s month 

Women groups that have continued to  Occupy National Assembly to protest the March 1st rejection of the gender bills in the ongoing amendments to the 1999 Constitution by members of the National Assembly, Wednesday said the lawmakers have declared war on them by their action. 

In a statement signed by Co-founder Womanifesto, Dr. Abiola Akiyode-Afolabi, WRAPA Secretary General,  Saudatu Mahdi and Chairperson Women in Politics, Ebere Ifedu, they also called on the lawmakers to pass all rejected gender bills by March 31st 2022 to gloriously end the women’s month.

According to them, “We state unequivocally that the denial of the five Gender related Bills amounts to a declaration of war on Nigerian women by the National Assembly.”

Reacting to claims by the spokesman of the house of Representatives, Benjamin Kalu, that lobbying for the bills were done late, the women said they have record of series of lobbying efforts by the women groups some of them as far back as three years ago.

The women said: “We want to publicly respond to the issues raised by the spokesman of the house of Representatives, Benjamin Kalu. We have record of series of lobbying efforts by the women groups.

“International Donors including the UN Women in collaboration with the office of the Minister of Women Affairs have over the past three years engaged with Women groups through Dialogues and other interventions on issues around gender in Nigeria including the Gender Bills.

“Some of these engagements are summarized below:

“For 18 months Prof Ayodele Atsenuwa and Prof Joy Ezeilo worked as consultants and gender experts to the National Assembly (NASS) with the support of UN Women.

Policy & Legal Advocacy Center (PLAC) supported several discussions on the 111 seats and other gender bills.

“National Democratic Institute (NDI) organized a conversation for male and female parliamentarians who were looking at the gender bills.

“Women Rights Advancement and Protection Alternative (WRAPA) and Women Advocates Research Documentation Center (WARDC) had a meeting with all Speakers of the State Assemblies across Nigeria

“The UN Women and the Nigerian Minister of Women Affairs organized several engagements including visits to the Senate President and the Senate leadership and the Speaker of the House of Representative and the Governors Forum to advocate for the Gender Bills and the Gender and Equal Opportunities Bill.

“The Nigerian Minister of Women Affairs Dame Pauline Tallen and the First Lady H.E. Aisha Buhari met with the House of Representatives and Senate in early February before their deliberations.

“The wife of the Nigerian Vice President wife H.E. Mrs. Dolapo Osibanjo, Minister of Women Affairs and other female Ministers in the Nigerian cabinet met with the NASS on the day the issues were voted down.

“Women in Politics Forum (WIPF) presented the constitution women want to the Deputy senate president too.

“Emerge Women held several engagement with relevant stakeholders and maintained strong Advocacy on the gender bill from inception. Made presentations at the public hearing in conjuction with Womanifesto.

“Wives of Governors engaged with their State Representatives directly on the need to ensure these bills recieved positive attention.

“The 100 Women Lobby Group engaged Rt. Honourable Speaker. Joined the Ministry of Women Affairs to Lobby the Deputy Senate President three times in 2021. They held several meetings with relevant House Committees on gender focused issues leading to the passage of gender bills.

“The Association of Nigerian Women Business Network (ANBWN) Women National Business Agenda (WNBA) Policy Dialogue and Advocacy on the gender bills since March 2021. ANWBN also presented 5 priority issues to stakeholders.

“Women in Management, Business & Public Service (WIMBIZ) participated in dialogues with key political stakeholders and organized an advocacy visit with the Speaker of the House of Representatives with key female legislators present.

“Women groups attended all the public hearings with a common position, organisations like the Gender and Constituion Network (GECORN), Womanifesto and others made presentations at the meeting on gender related areas in the constitution.

“Lastly for the five bills to even survive the review by the Joint NASS Constitution Review Committee, it required rigorous lobbying. The demands of women groups are a matter of human right and not as a favour.

 “We recognize the passage of the following bills by the House of Representatives: Bill to expand the scope of citizenship by registration; Bill to provide affirmative action for women in political party administration and Bill to provide criteria for qualification to become  an indigene of a State in Nigeria.”

The women reiterated their demands which are: “Urgent re-convening, reconsideration, and immediate passage of the all women/gender-related bills by the National Assembly.

“The passage of the Gender and Equal Opportunities (GEOB) Bill, currently before the Senate.

“Resuscitation and passage of the Bill on “Support for Women Participation in Elective and Appointive positions”

“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), ratified by Nigeria since 1985.

“As our representatives, we demand to know your voting pattern on sensitive matters of citizen rights.

(The Sun)

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