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

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.

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