Gender bills: Ex-Imo first lady faults National Assembly

A former First Lady of Imo state, Chioma Ohakim, has flayed the National Assembly for refusing to pass gender related bills recently.

Ohakim, in a statement she personally issued in Owerri, the state capital, on Thursday, questioned why the federal lawmakers voted against bills on specific seats for women.

She said that, even though women constituted 49 per cent of the nation’s population, Nigeria had continued to neglect them.

The former first lady, who is the founder of the Empowerment for Women and Youths Initiative, said that the segregation against women in the country had prevented them from taking their rightful position in the country’s political space.

She called on the National Assembly to reconsider the gender bills and pass them without delay.

The statement read, “I join other well-meaning Nigerian women to condemn the action of the 9th Assembly for refusing to support women’s inclusion in political spaces across Nigeria.

“It is painful that Nigerian women who constitute 49 per cent of the entire population are considered lesser beings and should be denied inclusion just because of their gender.

“World over, women are considered an integral part of the population and play major roles in the development of those countries, even as Nigerian women work tirelessly to support the development of our country.

“It is painful that 61 years after independence, Nigerian women and girls still grapple with gross violation of human rights, poverty, lack of inclusion, and varying forms of discrimination, which are clear indices of violence.

“Already, the constitution guarantees freedom from all forms of discrimination, while the universal declaration of human rights guarantees the right to equality, freedom from torture and degrading treatment, right to recognition as a person before the law, right to equality before the law, and right to remedy by a competent tribunal, amongst others.

“Why would the National Assembly vote against-

•specific seats for women

•35 per cent appointive positions for women

•35 per cent affirmative action in party administration and leadership

•indigene-ship rights after five years of marriage for non-Nigerian born women

•decline citizenship to the foreign-born husband of a Nigerian woman among several others?

“In Nigeria, women and girls suffer religious, political, and cultural discriminations, which have resulted in female genital mutilation, girl-child labour, domestic violence, gender-based violence, bodily rights, polygamy, restricted access to political participation, religious restrictions, underpaid wages, lack of access to quality healthcare, kidnapping, ritual killings, insecurity, insurgency, internal displacement, covid-19, and so much more.

“I join my voice to demand for a reconsideration of the gender bills and passage without delay.

“As a woman passionate about the improvement of people and society, I call on the leadership of the National Assembly to rally their members to ensure the total elimination of all forms of violence.

“Even as women are peaceful and law-abiding, I wish to state that I will partake in all forms of protests to address this gender-based violence.”

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