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Constitution amendment must address gender bias, say Speakers

By Sodiq Omolaoye, Abuja
14 February 2022   |   3:34 am
The Conference of Speakers of State Legislatures in Nigeria has said amendment of the 1999 Constitution to ensure gender parity is key to improving the fortunes of women and girls in the country.

Hon. Abubakar Suleiman

The Conference of Speakers of State Legislatures in Nigeria has said amendment of the 1999 Constitution to ensure gender parity is key to improving the fortunes of women and girls in the country.

This came as a network of women groups demanded elimination of all provisions of the law and political party constitutions that infringed on the rights of women in the country.

The lawmakers made the assertion during an interactive dinner in Abuja at the weekend. The occasion was used to honour 31 Speakers for their roles in passage of the Violence Against Persons Prohibition (VAPP) law.

Chairman, Conference of Speakers of State Legislatures in Nigeria, Abubakar Suleiman, said with domestication of the VAPP Law by 31 State Houses of Assembly, protecting the rights of women and other vulnerable population has just begun.

He said: “Violence against women remains one of the most widespread, prevalent, and largely unpunished violations of human rights in the world today.

“Legislators at the national and state level are key stakeholders in elimination of gender-based violence in all its forms and are strategically placed to drive national changes required to achieve this aim.

“We have both individual and collective responsibility to not only enact strong legislation but also monitor implementation of these policies and hold the executive arm of government accountable for making this legislation more effective.”

He added: “We, therefore, commit to continuous partnership with civil society organisations, particularly woman rights organisations, to support state action plans on ending gender-based violence through oversight role.”

Earlier, the chairperson, Network of Sexual Assault Referral Centres in Nigeria, Prof. Joy Ezeilo, commended the swift passage of the VAPP law at the state level and urged the Speakers to take necessary action to enhance smooth passage of the proposals to increase women’s leadership in parliament, party structures and appointive positions.