NGO calls on NASS to rescind stance on gender bills

By Funmilayo Adeyemi

Plan International, a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO), has called on the National Assembly to reconsider its stance on some gender equality and equal opportunity bills.

Mr Charles Usie, Country Director of the NGO, disclosed this in a statement made available to newsmen in Abuja on Wednesday by its Communications Advisor, Mr Yunus Abdulhamid.

Usie said that the bills, which had been pending before the National Assembly, sought affirmative actions for women in governance and political representation.

These bills include the 35 per cent appointed positions for women and 20 per cent affirmative action in party administration.

“Plan International, as a gender responsive and equal rights organization, stands in solidarity with the Nigerian women.

“We call on the National Assembly to reconsider its stance and pass the gender equality bills to strengthen our democracy and ensure the full participation of women and equitable representation in governance,” he said.

The country director said the action of the parliament had the potential to undermine the importance and relevance of women’s contributions to governance in the country.

He said they included the key role women play to galvanise support and victory for political parties in elections.

Usie expressed regrets that “the lawmakers chose the month of March when women are being celebrated across the world in recognition of their achievements, leadership, courage, strength and resilience.

“The essence of the affirmative action in all civilised society is not an act of favouritism or conferment of undeserved privileges, but correcting unfair arrangement in public domain.

“It is also to create an enabling equal opportunities for all, as well as giving everyone a fair chance.

“Passing this bill would have earned members of the current National Assembly an enviable place in history,” Usie said.

“It is troubling that the lawmakers did not provide any reason for the rejection of the bill in spite of its significance.”

Usie said that the constitution guaranteed all its citizens their fundamental human rights, including freedom from discrimination as enshrined in Chapter  4, Section 42 of the 1999 Constitution to participate in public life.

He said “this is in line with various international instruments such as the Beijing Platform for Action, the Protocol to the African Union Charter for Human and Peoples Rights, among others. ” NAN)