The Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, CACOL, has taken a swipe at the members of the National Assembly for voting against gender bills in the constitutional amendment process.
In a release issued by CACOL and signed by Tola Oresanwo, the anti-corruption organization’s Director of administration and programmes on behalf of its Chairman, Mr. Debo Adeniran, he stated, “CACOL as an anti-corruption and transparency in leadership organization received with rude shock and embarrassment, the news that members of the National Assembly voted against gender bills in the constitutional amendment process. We found it funny that the national assembly voted against bills seeking to give women more opportunities in leadership and governance at this age of our national life. Their action has sparked a protest by some women at the national assembly, who accused the lawmakers of bias. Similarly, Pauline Tallen, Minister of women affairs, said the male lawmakers who voted against the gender bills have no respect for women.”
“We are aware that when it comes to voting, more women vote than men and we believe that the quality of leadership in the country will not change if the scope of selection is not widened to accommodate more youths and women. We believed that setting aside 35 percent of the elective positions for women would have made a lot of sense because right now, the level of underrepresentation of women in key positions and decision making is alarming. Even at political party level, women should not be given only the position of women leader while all other positions are occupied by men”.
Although at our own level we believe that the bill would have been differently couched so that it will not give unintended meaning to the user either today or in future. Instead of ‘Gender parity’ or ‘Gender equality’ gender equity would have been more appropriate because it may be very difficult to achieve gender parity or gender equality but if we use ‘gender equity’ it will make a lot of sense to several people. Also, instead of ‘Gender balancing’, ‘Gender justice’ ought to have been used.
“We are of the opinion that affirmative actions should be limited to appointive positions rather than elective. The polity should not insist on affirmative actions for elective positions because if there are no candidates of a particular gender contesting, you can’t force people of that gender to contest elections but it is easier to apply it for appointive positions. We must also encourage political parties generally to encourage gender affirmative actions, meaning that there should be significant motivations for all genders to contest elections just like the different demography that exist within the parties. It will not be right to insist that if a political party does not have 30 percent or does not succeed in having the percentage stipulated for different gender the party cannot contest election.”
“It is against this background that CACOL has come out to seriously frown at the action of those lawmakers who threw the gender bills overboard without considering the effects on the psyche of our womenfolk in particular and the nation in general. The contributions of some notable women like Dr. Mrs. Okonjo-Iweala, late Prof. Dora Akunyili to mention a few to the development of the country cannot be easily overlooked. By voting against this bill, these set of lawmakers are inadvertently denying the country of more capable hands of womenfolk who can contribute positively to the greatness of our nation”.
“Clearly, Nigerians would be shortchanged and greater harm would be done to the country by denying us the opportunity of allowing more competent and capable womenfolk to serve their fatherland in various capacities. We have reduced women only to the role of the voters, who are only relevant for the purposes of election. It is quite unfortunate that this is coming at a time when many other countries, even in the African region, are opening up their political space for more women participation”.