Don’t Appeal Court Decision on 35% Affirmative Action, Coalition Tells FG

 Oghenevwede Ohwovoriole in Abuja

The Solidarity for Africa Women’s Rights (SOAWR) has asked the federal government to withdraw its appeal against the ruling of a Federal High Court on the imperative of domesticating 35 percent in line with the Maputo Protocol.

SOAWR, a coalition of 63 civil society organisations working across 32 African countries, also challenged President Bola Tinubu to ensure outright compliance with the protocol, recommending that 35 percent of women be involved in all governance processes

The National President of International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA), Ms. Amina Agbaje made the demand at a news conference held in Abuja recently to review the domestication of theMaputo Protocol 18 years after.

At the conference, Agbaje said: “We went to court to seek for the enforcement of the gender policy of 2006 for the 35 percent affirmative action. At the Federal High Court, Justice Donatus Okoro delivered a judgement in favour of the applicants.

“Justice Okoro held that none implementation of the gender policy 2006 was a violation of women’s rights and asked the government to obey and appoint women into decision making bodies.

“As Nigerian women were celebrating the decision, the federal government appealed that decision. We were wondering if the government appealed against its own policy.

“We are preparing to meet them at the appeal court to ensure that women get that 35 percent affirmative action that we are all clamouring for. The wife of the president has been a champion of the struggle.

“We will pay the wife of the President, Senator Remi Tinubu a courtesy visit. She will lead is to the president and we will plead with him to instruct the Attorney General to withdraw the appeal and comply with the ruling of the Federal High Court. If all these fail, we will meet in court.

“We, members of the Coalition for the Domestication of Maputo Protocol, stand united today to reaffirm our commitment to our vision through our urgent call for action for the domestication of the Maputo Protocol in Nigeria to advance human rights of women and girls in the country.”

Agbaje lamented Nigeria’s inability to domesticate the Maputo protocol and how it had impeded the development of women in the country.

“It has been 18 years down the line. We are dismayed at the inability of Nigeria to fully utilise this framework for defending and advancing women’s rights through the process of incorporating the provisions into extant laws to give it force of law. This has posed great challenge for the general progress and development of women in Nigeria.

“Notwithstanding significant progress in recent years with new policies and laws, Nigerian women continue to face various forms of discrimination, marginalisation, violence, flagrant abuse and barriers to accessing their fundamental human rights which have been addressed and are contained in the articles of the protocol.”

Also at the conference, Executive Director, BAOBAB for Women’s Human Rights, Bunmi Dipo-Salami said: “We have been saying this is what we need. This is what the Nigerian government signed into and that you’re going to protect women and those women will have a place at the table.

“So, we still call on the president. We use this opportunity to continue to lobby, continue the appeal that the Nigerian women need the 35 percent minimum sit at the table. When it comes to the domestication of the Maputo protocol.

“There is no law that Nigeria signed onto that has force except it is domesticated by the National Assembly and if it’s not domesticated by the National Assembly sub-national governments cannot begin to tap into what is not available.”

Among others, the coalition includes Women’s Rights Advancement and Protection Alternative (WRAPA), Dorothy Njemanze Foundation (DNF), International Federation of Female Lawyers (FIDA), Education as a Vaccine (EVA), BAOBAB for Women’s Human Rights, Nigerian Feminist Forum (NFF), National Council for Women Society (NCWS), National Orientation Agency (NOA), Alliances for Africa (AFA), Center for Gender Economics (CGE) and Initiative for Gender Equality and Sexual and Reproductive Health (IGE-SRH).

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