The National Assembly has expressed readiness to amend the constitution to ensure gender parity and enact laws to improve the fortunes of women and girls in Nigeria.
The Senate resolved to expunge provisions of the law as contained in the Police Act, Federal Character Law, Electoral Act, Labour Act, Political Parties Constitutions, which infringes on the rights of women.
The decision was part of the resolutions reached during plenary on Wednesday after the chamber considered a motion on the 2021 International Women’s Day.
The motion, with the theme: “Women in Leadership: Achieving an equal future in a COVID-l9 world #Choose To Challenge”, was sponsored by Senator Betty Apiafi (PDP, Rivers West).
Co-sponsors were Senators 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).
Apiafi described Women’s Day as a time for reflection of how far women have come, advocacy for what is still needed, and action to continue breaking down barriers limiting gender equality.
The lawmaker said pre-existing biases against women, some of which are systemic, political, cultural, and social, must be challenged.
“With the pandemic we have 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.”
Apiafi added that COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted both the importance of the contributions of women and the lopsided burden women carry.
She observed gender inequality still exists in governance, and lamented Nigeria has recorded only one female Governor in history.
“The 9th National Assembly in Nigeria only has a 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% of the entire 44-member ministerial list. This yet again reflects the need for gender equality”
In her contribution, Senator Stella Oduah called for the mainstreaming of women affairs in national planning.
She said in prioritizing the empowerment of the Nigerian woman, “we must create an enabling environment where women can thrive and show their innate skills and talent.”
Senator Oluremi Tinubu, while celebrating Vice President of the United States, Kamala Harris, and Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, the first female Director-General of the World Trade Organization, bemoaned the lack of opportunities for women in African countries.
Senator Laura Ladi Dadut said women continue to play a critical role in the pandemic world, adding that, “they bear more burden in the home and public.”
Senate President, Ahmad Lawan noted that the provision of equal opportunities for women would on the long run be in the interest of Nigeria as a nation.