Remove barriers to women participation in public life, UN Women calls on Nigeria
Abuja, 6 March 2022
UN Women has keenly followed the work of the National Assembly Constitutional Review Committees constituted in February 2020, to propose amendments to the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. We acknowledge the bold and progressive decision of the Chairman of the Senate Constitutional Review Committee and Deputy Senate President, Distinguished Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, in inviting UN Women to support the review process through the deployment of a gender and constitutional reform expert, who has served as part of the technical team over the past 18 months. UN Women further acknowledges all elected members of the National Assembly who voted in favor of those bills related to promoting women’s rights in Nigeria, despite the final unsettling outcome.
We salute women in the National Assembly for sponsoring important bills which seek to promote more inclusive and sustainable development in Nigeria. We acknowledge the Senate in particular, for its passage of Bill 36 related to the Expansion of the Scope of Citizenship by Registration and Bill 38 related to Indigeneship rights. We also hail the House of Representatives for passing the Affirmative Action Bill in the appointment of Ministers and Commissioners. However, UN Women has noted with disappointment and regret that the bills failed to gather the required votes needed in both the Senate and the House of Representatives for passage and subsequent transmission to the State Assemblies.
We salute women’s rights organizations at the grassroots, state, and national levels who continue relentlessly to advocate equal rights for women in the constitution and legislative framework in Nigeria.
‘Today more than ever, the experiences and expertise of Nigerian women are needed in designing Nigerian laws and policies to make them beneficial to both female and male interests without exclusion or discrimination,’ says the UN Women Representative in Nigeria, Ms. Comfort Lamptey.
Presently, Nigeria lags behind African countries like Tanzania, Kenya, Rwanda, Tunisia, Senegal, Uganda and Cape Verde, which have adopted constitutions and other national laws that provide for equal rights and opportunities, including the Special Seats or Proportional Representation System. In line with its standard-setting role as a leading democracy in Africa, it is time for Nigeria to heed the calls of half of its population and electorate, and to adopt similar measures that will ensure greater representation and participation of women in governance.
The month of March is globally recognized as Women’s rights month. It is therefore disheartening and ironic that Bills relating to the progress of women and the Nigerian nation at large were rejected on the first day of March. Importantly,
‘Nigeria has an obligation based on international and regional commitments to adopt legislation that will help remove barriers preventing current and future generations of women from the right to participate in public life and the enjoyment of their human rights as full citizens in a democratic state,’ Ms. Lamptey notes
For Nigeria to meet its deepest aspirations in the race to attain the Sustainable Development Goals targets, investment in women’s leadership is critical. UN Women remains resolute in our commitment to support Nigeria along this path.
As Nigeria heads to the 2023 elections, we will support women’s leadership including that of young women aspiring for political office and promote a peaceful and enabling environment for women to fully participate as voters and candidates; and we will continue to support Nigeria to promote and adopt non-discriminatory and inclusive legislation and policies, to build a nation that truly leaves no one behind.