Communique Issued At The Retreat Of Women In Parliament Held At Lagos Continental Hotel, Lagos State From The 6th To 7th March 2020.
In commemoration of this year’s International Women’s Day, female legislators from across the country, under the auspices of Women in Parliament (WIP) Committee of the National Assembly converged in Lagos at a retreat to review critical national issues, particularly as they affect women and children. The retreat was an opportunity to enhance the technical capacity of female legislators and design an agenda for improved political inclusion of women in politics and governance. At the end of the retreat which attracted members of the National Assembly and State Houses of Assembly, the Women in Parliament Committee resolved as follows;
- That Nigerian female legislators and indeed, all women, are deeply traumatized, worried and concerned about the increasing insecurity across the country. Women and children are the greatest victims of the nefarious activities of insurgents, terrorists, kidnappers, armed robbers, etc. The WIP recognizes the untiring and patriotic efforts of our security agents to protect the country and therefore commends them, particularly those in the battlefields in the North-East for this act of national sacrifice. Our thoughts and prayers are with families who have lost their loved ones in the face of national insecurity as well as families of our young girls kidnapped and yet to be returned home. We also condole, the families of our gallant security forces who paid the supreme sacrifice in our defence. As mothers of the nation, we lend our voices to the call for the rejuvenation of our security approach for improved results. We equally believe that lethargy has set in for the security personnel who have been on the battlefield for years without respite and therefore call on the commanders of our forces to replace them with new ones and allow them spend some quality time with their families. This we believe, will give fresh vigor to the campaign against insurgents and terrorists in the country.
2 .The WIP commends the leadership of the Senate for the deliberate inclusion of all-female Senators in the Constitution Review Committee and demand that the leadership of the House of Representatives do the same. This will ensure that critical issues of concern to women are brought to the attention of the Committee in both chambers.
- The Women in Parliament frowns at the continued decline in the number of women in appointive and elective positions in the country and noted that the number significantly dropped after the 2019 general elections. Out of 469 members of the National Assembly, only 21 are women representing 5.8% women representation in the National Assembly and 4.43% women out of 991 state legislators representing in the State Houses of Assembly. THIS ACT OF POLITICAL EXCLUSION IS NO LONGER ACCEPTABLE! Nigerian female legislators, therefore, call on their colleagues in the National Assembly and State Houses of Assembly to, in the spirit of this year’s #EachforEqual campaign, take intentional steps in the ongoing constitution review and electoral reform process to promote women inclusion in governance and politics through gender-specific provisions.
- WIP notes that the language of Nigerian laws is gender-biased and insensitive to women. The Constitution for instance has gender insensitive words mentioned about 66 times and the Electoral Act has gender insensitive words mentioned about 68 times. We, therefore, call on the National Assembly Constitution Review Committee to consider reviewing the drafting style/language of the Constitution by deleting the descriptive pronoun ‘He’ as presented in the Constitution and replacing it with ‘He/She’ or ‘Person’ to promote an inclusive Constitution that acknowledges women. This should also be adopted for the ongoing review of the Electoral Act.
- While Political Parties remain the only vehicle to contest elections in the country, WIP is concerned about the lack of internal party democracy and political will to ensure women’s political inclusion and representation. We call on our colleagues to use the ongoing reforms of the Electoral Act and the Constitution to ensure that political parties :
- Adopt a quota system in their Constitution and manifesto with women and men alternating (50:50) on its candidates’ list;
- For all elective positions, there is an intermix of both genders particularly positions requiring running mates. Where a man contests for the governorship, a woman shall be the deputy, where a woman contests, a man shall be the deputy;
- Ensure that women emerge in executive positions of the party beyond women leader position;
- Guarantee internal party democracy during candidate selection process;
- Only parties who are intentional about women’s participation will receive women’s votes in the 2023 Elections.
6. The WIP notes that the continued non-implementation of the financial autonomy granted to State Houses of Assembly in the country is an unacceptable affront to the Constitution of the Federal Republic. The Attorney General of the Federation is therefore called upon to, as a matter of urgency, activate relevant provisions of our laws to ensure that states are in full compliance
- WIP calls on the executive and legislature at the Federal and State levels for a review of our budgetary process for more women responsive budget. This should include a participatory and inclusive process that provides budgetary allocation that meets the needs of women and girls. WIP equally calls on legislators to ensure that such appropriated funds are judiciously utilized through improved oversight and to ensure that all economic empowerment programs for women are embedded with capacity building and skills acquisition.
- We rejoice with all women on this year’s international day of women and enjoin every Nigerian to go beyond words to adopt this year’s theme which is #EachforEqual as a life goal, by taking intentional steps that promote inclusion at home, workplace, business, boardrooms and the society as a whole.
Honorable Taiwo Olukemi Oluga Honorable Usman Abdullahi
Chairman, House Committee Deputy Chairman House Committee
Women in Parliament Women in Parliament
National Assembly National Assembly