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Published On: Thu, Jun 19th, 2014

Female delegates cause stir over affirmative action

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By Hassan Haruna Ginsau

There was a stir yesterday at the National conference as female delegates to the conference rose up against the result of a vote that rejected the amendment of the country’s constitution to increase the quota for women in elective and appointive political and decision-making positions from 30-35%.

When put to a voice vote, those in favour of not increasing the affirmative action to 35% won, as some female delegates, possibly from a lack of understanding did not participate in the vote.

Immediately after the vote went against them, some female delegates rushed to the high table where the chairman of the conference is seated, while others stood up and shouted in protest to the vote.

Amid the chaos, Daisy Danjuma, a delegate at the conference as an elder statesman  noted that the chairman should put the vote again as the female delegates were caught “unawares”

The recommendation at Beijing conference states it should be nothing less than 35%, and Nigeria is a signatory to that convention. I think the question should be repeated because we were taken unawares

Another female delegate, Dr DuraSince the Obasanjo regime, 35% has been there so we don’t need to vote about it. If we are going to vote about it that means we want it to go higher. If you want to take us to 40%, 45%, 50% then we can vote, but 35% is already a national policy and we can’t go lesser than that.

On his part former speaker of the House of Representatives Ghali Umar Na’abba emphasised that the conference should support women, pointing out that if women decided to stop bearing children the world would come to a standstill.

The deputy chairman of the conference, Professor Bolaji Akinyemi, who was standing in for the chairman, in his bid to diffuse the situation ruled that from the information given by delegates that Nigeria was already a signatory to the 1995 Beijing conference for women’s rights which recommends not less than 35% affirmative action, there was therefore no need to vote on the issue in the first place.

He jokingly told the female delegates to go and sort out the differences, swiftly moving on to the next amendment to be voted upon.

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