STATEMENT BY THE NIGERIAN BAR ASSOCIATION WOMEN FORUM ON THE REJECTION OF GENDER BILLS BY NASS

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The Nigerian Bar Association Women Forum (NBAWF) join others in expressing our disappointment at the actions of the 9th National Assembly (NASS) office Tuesday March 1, 2022 when they denied women the opportunity of inclusion and representation in governance by voting against the gender bills.

The NASS has spoken loud and clear that they do not want progress for society: for mothers, aunties, sisters, wives, and for daughters.

It is particularly sad that in a month globally dedicated to celebrating women worldwide, the NASS has chosen to deny women basic human rights. These are rights enjoyed by every Nigerian except women.

The proposed gender bills in the 5th Constitution Alteration Bills that were all rejected are Bills targeted at addressing the current gender imbalance across the legislative arm of governments across the country whilst reducing the under-representation of women in political office.

The men of the 9th NASS have reinforced the discrimination and political bias against women as enshrined in the 1999 constitution by:
1. Denying citizenship to a male husband of a Nigerian woman. (While it allows Nigerian men’s foreign-born wives to be awarded automatic citizenship).
2. Denying Nigerian women indigeneity through marriage.
3. Denying 35% appointed positions for women and settling for 20%.
4. Denying women affirmative action in party administration and leadership.
5. Denying specific seats for women in the National Assembly.

The men of the 9th NASS by their actions have taken us backwards. Their actions undermine the importance and relevance of women’s contribution to the governance of Nigeria including the key role women play to bring victory to political parties in elections at all levels across the country. They also voted against diaspora voting!

Nigerian women therefore demand that all gender Bills be reconsidered. Ultimately, our demands will benefit not just women but Nigeria as a whole. Office of women in governance will only bring progress, and respect for Nigeria in the committee of nations.

We cannot, in 2022, be negotiating the rights of women and the sanctity of the dignity of girls. We call on the National Assembly to re-present these Bills as a matter of urgency and ensure that they are passed.

Professor Oluyemisi Bamgbose SAN
Chairperson, Nigerian Bar Association Women Forum

Folashade Alli CIArb
Head of Advocacy Committee, Nigerian Bar Association Women Forum

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