The Speaker, House of Representatives Honourable Femi Gbajabiamila has expressed worry over the status of women particularly as it concerns inclusion in governance and the growing violence and discrimination against them, assuring that the 9th assembly is committed to finding lasting solutions to these problems.
Hon. Gbajabiamila made the promise yesterday in Abuja during a breakfast meeting organised by the 100 Women Lobby Group with Change Managers International Network in collaboration with Action Aid Nigeria to discuss support for gender equity in political leadership in the 9th Assembly.
He noted the poor number of women representatives at the house of representatives, stressing that creating a just and equal society and institutions has and will continue to be a common challenge if women are not carried along.
“There is near national emergency on women issues, even the current 9th assembly house of representatives has just 11 women which is about 3% and this is a poor representation especially when we take into account the sad reality of being women especially in the rural communities
“Gender related violence, the restriction of women from political, social and economic rights: we all know these are the problems and we can all agree the national importance of creating a just and equal society and institutions but how to do this effectively has continued to be a common challenge.
“My colleaques and I have agreed to champion reforms for the greater good of this country, and we must be deliberate in crafting out policies and reforms that will better the lives of women and girls.
“I am passionate about the issues of gender, women make up 50% of the country’s population and 50% of the voting population if not more so we are committed to finding lasting solution to the issues affecting women and girls in the country,” he stressed.
The Speaker noted the cultural and religious impediments to women’s progress saying there is a need to amend the constitution to address this.
He also called for an amendment of the federal character commission to include gender as a criteria for distributing resources, saying both men and women makes up the character.
“I want to assure women of my support and will ensure that this 9th assembly is deliberate in its consideration of policies and legislations that impact women and girls and this roundtable will be the foundation for the partnership for that change.
“The federal character gives allocation based on states or ethnicity but I believe there should be gender inclusive and the nomenclature can be changed to federal character and gender commission because the sexes make up the character.
He further disclosed that the issue of independent candidacy is on the front burner, urging women to take advantage of it when this finally becomes law.
Earlier, the National Coordinator of the 100 Women Lobby Group Felicia Onibon, called for spaces to be expanded for women in governance and other leadership opportunities, stressing the importance of setting quota’s to enable a level playing ground for all.
She also emphasised the need for gender budgetting, review of the constitution and gender considerations on constituency projects, while appealing toPresident Mohammadu Buhari to consider including more women in his cabinet.
Meanwhile, the Country Director Action Aid Nigeria, Mrs. Ene Obi in her welcome address reiterated the need for government to remove limiting gender biases, stressing that without a good representation of women issues concerning them cannot be decided effectively.