MMS Woman of Fortune Hall of Fame (WoFHoF) Initiative, a Lagos-based not-for-Profit organisation, has called on the Nigerian Senate to revisit the rejected amendment Bill on 35 per cent affirmative action for appointment of women into positions of authority, describing the rejection as a gender equality prejudice against Nigerian women, already proven to be the goose that lays the golden eggs in leadership and economy.
The organisation observed that the Senate acted in breach against the United Nation’s (UN) goal for gender equality as stipulated in the 2030 Sustainable Development Goal (SDGs), which among other things, seeks to eliminate gender imbalance in leadership positions by increasing the percentage of women at the management level in all sectors of the economy.
In its renewed move to amend the Nigerian constitution, the Senate, under Bill no.11, sought to include the clause to provide for 35 per cent affirmative action at the federal level and 20 per cent at the state level. But while the Senate rejected it, the lower house, House of Representatives upheld it.
If accepted as proposed, it means that 35 per cent of the collective appointments into positions of authority at the federal level will be reserved for women, particularly ministerial positions, as 20 per cent equivalent takes place across the states of the federation.
Speaking in her capacity as the Chairman of Board of Trustees (BOT) of MMS WofHof Initiative, Mrs. Margaret Orakwusi, said the Senate acted in ignorance because the senators lose nothing if they allow the bill to sail through.
“I believe that is either that those who voted against it didn’t understand what it means or that they didn’t appreciate women or deliberately do not want to encourage women to get married. Where does this hurt anybody that such a bill wouldn’t be allowed to sail through? What the men in the Senate have forgotten is that any vote for the women is a vote for their mothers, wives and daughters. I am not happy that the bill could not sail through and I hope that it is revisited. A lot of people suffer unjustly because of this. We need to promote women,” she noted.
Orakwusi, who is also the chairman of Nigerian Ship Owners’ Forum condemned the flagrant display of chauvinism at the plenary session by one of the senators, who said that women would take over everything from the men if the bill sails through. “I watched one of the Senators who didn’t quite make sense to me, with all due respect; when he said, ‘Women are everywhere, if we do it now they would soon take over everything!’ When it suits some people, they say women are more than men in this country. This means that women’s votes are more than the men. We aren’t even asking for 50 per cent but we are asking for 35 per cent.
“This wouldn’t have been necessary if we had the money to contest elections, show good representation and lobby. However, we recognise that we are more but we don’t have the necessary funding to be there so we are asking for 35 per cent to be left for women just for political appointments. When it suits a male politician, he recognises that women are more trustworthy, diligent and industrious. So Nigeria needs all those positive attributes of a woman especially at this time of the nation’s development. We have had men all the while, so why can’t we give the opportunities to women,” she added.
MMS WofHof Initiative, also known as MMS Hall of Fame, in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development, was conceptualised in 2012 with the aim of discovering, moulding, celebrating women role models and impacting African women for gainful change. Now fully registered as non-governmental organisation, it is a gender advocacy, mentoring and training platform for the younger generation of women in maritime, finance, aviation, logistics, oil and gas sectors as well as in political leadership.
It has over the years become a hall of women of virtue, integrity, and professionalism, with about 50 women of substance inducted into the hall of fame. In a rare privilege, they make themselves available for mentorship programme where they are paired with mentees for guide. The 2017 edition of the annual hall of fame is scheduled for Thursday, October 26, 2017, at Eko Hotels and Suites, Victoria Island, Lagos.