By Tordue Salem, Abuja
The National Assembly will amend the 1999 constitution to ensure justice and fairness to the female gender in the country, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rep. Femi Gbajabiamila has declared.
The speaker gave this assurance Monday, at a ceremony by the House, marking International Women’s Day.
The Speaker who extolled the virtues of women in the world and the country in particular, however, decried obstacles hindering them.
“It is said that women hold up half the sky. This is intended to reflect the recognition that our world, imperfect as it may be, will be even less, were it not for the women whose presence and contribution has been the basis of much of human achievement.
“At the same time, that statement stands as a judgment against a world where too often it feels as if there is a concerted effort between the forces of culture and government to deny women the full expression of their rights and the achievement of their highest ambitions.
“ The theme of this year’s International Women’s Day is #ChooseToChallenge. It is a call to duty, and it demands of all of us that we join efforts to dismantle those obstacles of law and convention, of attitudes and practices that serve no purposes other than to disadvantage the women of the world, and therefore keep humanity from rising to the heights of which we are inherently capable.
“ #ChooseToChallenge is also a call to celebrate the social-economic, cultural, and political achievements of women all over the world. When we celebrate what has been achieved, we recognise what has already been overcome, and in so doing, we derive the inspiration and the motivation we need to do better, to go farther and to achieve so much more.
“ I thank the Chairperson of the African Region Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians (CWP) Hon. (Dr.) Zainab Gimba, and the CWP Secretariat for organising this event. I welcome all of you who have taken the time to join us here in the National Assembly to commemorate the 2021 International Women’s Day. I assure you that this 9th House of Representatives will continue to take action to address the challenges militating against the advancement of women in all spheres of human endeavour.
“ We are committed to ensuring that in assessing the legacy of this 9th House of Representatives, it will be said of us that we used every instrument of legislation and persuasion available to us to advance the cause of equality and justice for all our nation’s women.
“ This is part of our legislative agenda and we must at the end of it, be able to tick that box that we said we would, we have this contract with Nigerians and we did. Incidentally, I had a discussion with some international partners and ambassadors just a few days ago and we sat for about two hours and the main issue of all issues came up and several came up but we concentrated 70% of that discussion was based on gender equality and how to remove obstacles that affect women and their advancement.
“ This is a matter of constitutional amendment in many regards and we will be up and doing, and I trust the 9th House will be up to the task in removing whatever obstacles, whatever hurdles there are to make sure that this thing is a thing of the past. I ask all of you here today to support the House in this regard so that together, we can make the world a better place for all our mothers and sisters, daughters, friends, and colleagues”, he stated.
In her welcome address, Rep. Zainab Gimba, Chairman of Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians, said “The International Women’s Day, is a special day dedicated to celebrating the socio-economic, cultural and political achievements of women and a platform to action for accelerating gender parity”.
She said highlights of the year, were on “gender-based issues with a focus on gender discriminations, will not only help policymakers to be aware but prepare them to mobilise the public to support efforts at combating gender-based discriminations.
“Our societal norms and power structure have unfairly impacted the lives and opportunities available to women in Africa. We must therefore persist in sensitising the citizenry, both male and female, to have attitudinal change at all levels of the society”.