By Miriam Humbe
The Women in Parliament (WIP) said it has observed with dismay that the language of Nigerian laws is gender-biased and insensitive to women, as the Constitution for instance has gender insensitive words mentioned about 66 times and the Electoral Act has gender insensitive words mentioned about 68 times.
“We therefore, call on the National Assembly Constitution Review Committee to consider reviewing the drafting style/language of the Constitution by deleting the descriptive pronoun ‘He’ as presented in the Constitution and replacing it with ‘He/She’ or ‘Person’ to promote an inclusive Constitution that acknowledges women. This should also be adopted for the ongoing review of the Electoral Act.
They commended the leadership of the Senate for the deliberate inclusion of all-female Senators in the Constitution Review Committee and has demanded that the leadership of the House of Representatives do the same as this will ensure that critical issues of concern to women are brought to the attention of the Committee in both chambers but frowned at the continued decline in the number of women in appointive and elective positions in the country, noting that the number significantly dropped after the 2019 general elections.
These were contained in a communiqué issued at the this year’s International Women’s Day, where female legislators from across the country, under the auspices of Women in Parliament (WIP) Committee of the National Assembly converged in Lagos at a retreat to review critical national issues, particularly as they affect women and children.
It read: “Out of 469 members of the National Assembly, only 21 are women representing 5.8% women representation in the National Assembly and 4.43% women out of 991 state legislators representing in the State Houses of Assembly. This act of political exclusion is no longer acceptable! Nigerian female legislators, therefore, call on their colleagues in the National Assembly and State Houses of Assembly to, in the spirit of this year’s #EachforEqual campaign, take intentional steps in the ongoing constitution review and electoral reform process to promote women inclusion in governance and politics through gender-specific provisions”.
The retreat was an opportunity to enhance the technical capacity of female legislators and design an agenda for improved political inclusion of women in politics and governance. At the end of the retreat which attracted members of the National Assembly and State Houses of Assembly, the Women in Parliament Committee resolved as follows:
“Nigerian female legislators and indeed, all women, are deeply traumatized, worried and concerned about the increasing insecurity across the country. Women and children are the greatest victims of the nefarious activities of insurgents, terrorists, kidnappers, armed robbers, among others.
“The WIP recognizes the untiring and patriotic efforts of our security agents to protect the country and therefore commends them, particularly those in the battlefields in the North-East for this act of national sacrifice. Our thoughts and prayers are with families who have lost their loved ones in the face of national insecurity as well as families of our young girls kidnapped and yet to be returned home.
“We also condole, the families of our gallant security forces who paid the supreme sacrifice in our defense. As mothers of the nation, we lend our voices to the call for the rejuvenation of our security approach for improved results. We equally believe that lethargy has set in for the security personnel who have been on the battlefield for years without respite and therefore call on the commanders of our forces to replace them with new ones and allow them spend some quality time with their families. This we believe will give fresh vigor to the campaign against insurgents and terrorists in the country.