Group Urges Buhari to Support Affirmative Action for Women

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Tobi Soniyi in Lagos

A non-governmental organisation, Alliance for Africa, has called on President Muhammadu Buhari to comply with the 35 per cent affirmative action for women.

The group also expressed concern over poor representation of women in Nigerian political leadership, urging the government to take a cue from other African countries in addressing the issue.

Speaking at a workshop on the full implementation of 35 per cent affirmative action in public governance in Enugu, Executive Director of Alliance for Africa, Ms Iheoma Obibi, also urged the National Assembly to as a matter of urgency, pass the Gender and Equal Opportunities Bill (GEOB) presently before it, which supports equal participation and representation of women and men in decision-making processes.

Obibi called on the federal government to prevail on the political parties to bridge the gender gap by mainstreaming gender in their internal party policies.

She also called on the government to promote gender equality in the political sphere and in decision-making processes at local and national levels.
The executive director also urged the government to demonstrate a clear road map of implementing and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), especially the one on gender equality.

She said the organisation was bothered that as the 2019 general election approaches, the present political dispensation had the lowest representation of women in public office.

According to her, “Nigeria as a member of the United Nations, signed and ratified various relevant international instruments, treaties and conventions without reservation.

She also stated that these instruments have always emphasised that member nations put in place all the necessary mechanisms needed to eliminate gender discriminations, ensure equality and human dignity to all, men and women.
“In Nigeria, no woman has ever become a president or a vice president. The only first female governor in Nigeria, Dame Virgy Etiaba, only functioned in Anambra State as governor for six months.’’

She cited some African countries where their governments had deployed the various instruments to shore up women participation in politics, saying it was no longer an issue in some of them.

“The Alliance for Africa recognizes the support and contributions of key stakeholders who are insisting on affirmative action toward equal representation of women and men public life which is necessary for an effective/functional democracy and the advancement of women’s rights a central issue to achieve political, economic and social justice.

“We hereby call on the Nigerian government to emulate other African countries that have successfully addressed the under representation of women in political leadership immediately,’’ Obibi added.