Nigerian Senate to change laws infringing on women’s rights

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The Nigerian Senate has resolved to change laws infringing on women’s rights and amend the constitution to include gender equality.

The Senate said it would expunge provisions of the law as contained in the Police Act, Federal Character Law, Electoral Act, Labour Act, and Political Parties’ Constitutions, which infringe on the rights of women in Nigeria.

The upper chamber also expressed readiness to enact laws that will improve the lot of women and girls in the country. The decision was conveyed amid resolutions reached on Wednesday during plenary when the Senate considered a motion on the 2021 International Women’s Day celebration with the theme: “Women in leadership: Achieving an equal future in a COVID-l9 world #choose to challenge”.

According to a statement signed by Ezrel Tabiowo, special assistant (Press) to the president of the Senate, the motion was sponsored by Betty Apiafi (PDP, Rivers West); and co-sponsored by Aisha Dahiru Ahmed (Adamawa Central); Oluremi Tinubu (Lagos Central); Biodun Olujimi (Ekiti South); Akon Eyakenyi (Akwa Ibom South); Stella Oduah (Anambra North); Uche Lillian Ekwunife (Anambra South); and Chimaroke Nnamani (Enugu East).

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Apiafi regrets that the COVID-19 pandemic has brought new barriers which include an increase in domestic violence, unpaid care duties, unemployment and poverty.

“We have to be intentional about tackling these pre-existing and new biases to give women opportunities to thrive,” she said.

She further expressed concern that even at the national level, gender inequality still exists. According to her, there is record of only one female governor in Nigerian history and only one female deputy governor while the rest are men.

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Apiafi added that the 9th National Assembly in Nigeria only has record of seven female senators while the rest are men.

“Again, there are only seven female ministers in Nigeria and they represent about 15.91 percent of the entire 44-member ministerial list. This yet again reflects the need for gender equality”, she said.

Contributing, Stella Adaeze Oduah called for the mainstreaming of women affairs in national planning. She added that in prioritising the empowerment of the Nigerian woman, “we must create an enabling environment where women can thrive show their innate skills and talent.”

Accordingly, the Senate while urging employers of labour to give women equal opportunities to allow them achieve their full potentials, called on Nigerians to maintain a gender equal mind-set and challenge gender stereotypes and biases.

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The Senate in its resolutions urged the Federal Government to forge positive visibility for women and celebrate women’s achievements; as well as domesticate all conventions and treaties of the African Union (AU) in respect of gender issues.

The Senate president, Lawan, in his remark, said that the provision of equal opportunities for women would on the long run be in the interest of Nigeria as a nation.

“I believe we are together in this with our women. It is in the interest of our nation that we work together to give our women proper opportunities for them to excel,” Lawan said.

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