By Rotimi Adewuyi

OrderPaperToday –
Women groups have again stormed the premises of the National Assembly (NASS) on Tuesday, to express displeasure over the rejection of women bills in the ongoing Constitution Amendment process.

The women groups from various sectors and organisations were asking for a recommittal by NASS of the women-related bills which the lawmakers voted against last week.

Gender bills suffered setbacks during the Constitution Amendment process and women of different groups told journalists that they will unanimously decide to vote for only women in the 2023 general election; no matter how small their political party is.

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According to them, the male lawmakers do not have their interest at heart and have also vowed to mobilize women in all 774 local government areas to make sure their plans come to fruition. 

READ ALSO: #IWD Special: Are Nigerian women asking for the impossible?

Speaking to journalists, Aisha Yesufu of Bring Back Our Girls (BBOG), said they are protesting against people who do not care and have shown women repeatedly that they do not care.

The Rights Activist said women have competent representation in offices and must ensure that they put women in the legislative arm of government.

“When we fight for accountability, transparency, we are fighting for the good of all Nigerians. We fight for men and they have shown us this and done it repeatedly and it is time for women; we need to have our pass, we need to be selfish for once in our lives and we need to ensure we put in more women into the legislative arm of government.

“We need to mobilise, volunteer and unite. Advise young women to not allow anything, and anyone to put them down assuring them the fighting for equality will no longer be fought by them as they are ready to fight for the future of Nigerian women,” Yesufu stressed.

READ ALSO: Women Bills: ‘Lobbying by women came in late’ – Reps Spokesman

She added that religious leaders are part of the woes women have; explaining that even the scriptures are being translated in a way that favours men at the detriment of women’s rights in the name of religion and customs.

“They will tell you as a woman you should not speak and when they need you to help them they will come to you, they also count the vote of women as equal to men all If these have to stop.

READ ALSO: Gender Bills: ‘Women of Nigeria’ release statement on failed amendments

On his part, Executive Director of the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), Auwal Rafsanjani stressed the importance of ‘Break the Bias,’ which is the theme for this year’s International Women’s Day (IWD).

“We are here to ensure that the long-standing marginalisation of women in decision-making levels and political processes are revised and addressed so that this act of bais is defeated.”

The Civil Society Advocate advised women not to get tired of asking for their rights and not allow anyone to ambush them; adding that women are a great asset to the country who have been contributing positively to its progress.

He highlighted that support for the women’s requests were requests for nation building, and as such must not allow the wants of men to drag them back.

READ ALSO: Constitution Amendment: Gbajabiamila to expose those who voted against women bills

Samson Itodo of YIAGA Africa described Nigerian society as being structured in a way that puts women in a disadvantaged position.

He noted that no society thrives when women are unduly excluded from a critical segment of society.

“We need the stakeholders to know the importance of breaking the bais against women and create a level playing ground where women can harness their potential and contribute to the development of the society.”

Itodo who blamed the Constitution for excluding women from participating in government, also said Nigeria is not fully practicing democracy because Nigeria does not have women as part of the political process.

He added that the protest is also geared towards the determination of Nigerians to restructure its democratic process in a way that will safeguard and promote the right opinions.

READ ALSO: Constitution Amendment: Reps rescind decision on Women bills

Pointing out the contribution of the protest to a national and economic question, he expressed hope that NASS will recommit the bills and pass them.

The Occupy NASS protest later witnessed the presence of Erelu Bisi Fayemi, wife of the Chairman of Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF), and Betsy Obaseki, wife of the Edo State Governor.

Others were Martha Udom Emmanuel, Wife of the Akwa Ibom State Governor, and Chairman of the Nigerians In Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM), Abike Dabiri-Erewa.

Groups present at the rally include FIDA, YIAGA Africa, Action Aid, among others. 

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