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Stakeholders call for constitutional reform to enhance gender equality

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Stakeholders have called for an overhaul of the constitution for a change in cultural belief, with the aim of transforming the perspective of how women are mirrored in the Nigerian society.

This was disclosed at a virtual meeting organised by Commonwealth Businesswomen on the Nigerian constitution review under the theme Lets talk about Socio-Economic and cultural Rights in Nigeria.

Founder, GAIA Africa, Towun Candide-Johnson, noted that the constitution had not been protecting women’s right, which was seen in its language, among other things, thereby going into the roots of society to promote gender discrimination.

According to her, culture also relegates women to the background with some activities such as teaching only the girls about house keeping, how women are perceived when she speaks about sexual desires and the trauma faced in the case of sexual harassment.
 
“Life in Nigeria is seen through the male lens and this gender disparity is traced to the belief that women are subordinates. Women have consistently low egos and far unlikely to be involved in politics or major roles. Girls have also been made to see themselves as competition,” Candide-Johnson added.
 
Chairman, Office of the Public Defender (OPD) Lagos State, Bola Tinubu, said the department of OPD was founded to ensure that the voiceless have adequate costless representation. She explained that the basic constitutional and socio economic rights seek to address daily issues, adding that these rights have direct and critical implication to the outcome and development of the nation.
 
Tinubu, who is also the Founder Cece Yara Child Advocacy Center, noted that the constitution is designed in such a way that allows rights to be guaranteed but not enforceable.

 
“We cannot legitimately challenge decisions made and it gives government full right to ignore these things. From research, it has been observed that 40 percent of Nigerians live beneath poverty line. Children are exploited daily and 60 million girls would suffer abuse,” she said.
 
Chief Executive Officer Dindu Energy Group, Chidinma Okoli, however, noted that there has been an improvement in funding for women, but accessing it could be challenging, especially for businesswomen. She called on the government to look into creating an enabling environment for women in technology and business.
 
Principal Consultant, TGP Consulting, Tosin Sodeinde, added that research has shown that there is a positive relationship between women economic participation and a country’s foreign policy.
 
She further emphasised the need for women in business to pay attention to documentation, tax payment and the need to follow rules.


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