BBYDI Urges Lawmakers to Revisit Gender Bills
The National Assembly has rejected gender bills to increase female participation in governance. The bills include a bill providing affirmative action for women in political parties administration and a bill to create special seats for women in the national and state assemblies.
The lawmakers’ decision means women are denied 35% appointed positions, 35% affirmative action in party administration and leadership. As a result, women across the country, including those representing civil societies, have condemned this action and have mobilised to protest it.
For us at Brain Builders Youth Development Initiative (BBYDI), we believe that the lawmakers’ action is a significant setback in advocating for women’s rights and an inclusive political system in Nigeria. This also undermines the global campaign for gender equality as captured in SDG 5 and the need for establishing strong institutions as enshrined in SDG 16.
Data reveals that women have been politically marginalised since Nigeria’s return to democracy in 1999. These gender bills are just one of the many steps necessary to change that unpleasant trend.
We want to note that the demand for special provisions for women is not unusual. On the contrary, it is fast becoming a common practice in different parts of the world.
Today, about 130 countries worldwide have adopted special measures to tackle women’s underrepresentation. Interestingly, 75% of these countries introduced these measures within the last 20 years. Moreover, many of them are low or middle-income countries in Africa. For example, Rwanda introduced a mandatory 30% female participation in its parliament in 2003. This effectively increased female representation from 23% to 49% in the country’s election in 2003.
Since that increment, Rwanda’s economic growth averaged 7.2% over the decade to 2019, with a per capita GDP growing at 5% annually.
This reflects the impact of women in increasing a country’s economy, something urgently needs. We, therefore, urge lawmakers to revisit the gender bills and treat them based on the merits of their argument and the need to provide a platform for more inclusion and gender balance.