Minister for Women Affairs and Social Development, Sen. Aisha Al-Hassan, on Thursday urged the sponsor of the Gender and Equal Opportunity Bill to represent it to the Senate.
The Bill, sponsored by Senate Minority Whip, Biodun Olujimi, was thrown out by the Senate on Tuesday.
Al-Hassan spoke on the sidelines of the 60th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women at UN headquarters in New York.
“I received with mixed feelings, news of the rejection of the Gender and Equal Opportunity Bill by the Nigerian Senate.
“The Bill would have addressed discriminatory practices against women, access to education, female entrepreneurship development, participation in governance, decision making and protection against violence.
“We had hoped that with its passage Nigeria would have made a significant leap in the advancement of women, in conformity with UN Conventions, and other related instruments on the rights and development of women.
“However, with due respect to religious and cultural sensitivities, we believe that the bill will be re-presented to the Senate, as soon as all contentious areas are addressed”, she said.
The minister assured Nigerians that the Federal Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development will always do its best to promote the protection of Nigerian women against violence and all forms of abuses.
She said Nigeria cannot afford to neglect women who constituted half of its population, and that there would be no meaningful development without the involvement of women.
“We will continue to urge the Nigerian Senate to reconsider its position to ensure a speedy passage of the Bill,” she said.
She said in Nigeria, women represented 49 per cent of the population, yet they occupied less than six per cent of parliamentary seats at the national level.
These indicators, she said, negated International, regional and national benchmarks of at least 30 per cent representation for affirmative action.
Al-Hassan said with seven women out of 109 Senators and 14 out of the 360 Representatives; women in Nigerian 8th Parliament were clearly outnumbered by their male counterparts.
Nationwide, she said, in both Federal and State Legislatures, “there are less than 100 women out of the over one thousand four hundred men in parliament.
“Nigeria is yet to be part of the African revolution although it is the largest economy and the most populous black nation.
“The low representation of women in parliament has been attributed to cultural, traditional, religious, and financial factors because politics is capital intensive.
Others are violence and inhibiting gender roles and capacity in internal party democracies.
The minister also said there was urgent need to fast track modalities for increased representation of women in parliament and other decision-making organs.