By Victoria Ojeme & Fortune Eromosele
The Minister of Women Affairs, Dame Pauline Tallen, has said gender inclusion would serve as a benchmark in federal character as well as promoting gender equality and portraying good representation of women in government.
Recall that Tallen, had at the just-concluded Zonal Public Hearing on the proposed alteration to the provision of the 1999 Constitution, declared that the Ministry does not only fully back the proposal to include gender as a benchmark for federal character and related matters, but also supports the creation of additional special seats for women in the Federal and State Legislative Houses, by altering other sections in the 1999 Constitution.
Represented at the Public Hearing by the Permanent Secretary, Women Affairs, Amb. Anthonia Ekpa, insisted that it is time for an inclusive Nigerian Constitution, adding that there is need for a Constitution that Nigerian women want.
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However, explaining the Minister’s position to journalists, Ekpa noted that the renewed agitations became necessary to ensure equity, stressing that women’s political representation is still below 10 per cent.
She quoted the Minister to have said: “Women need to be fully represented in the government at the national and sub-national levels, first by recognising the use of gender-neutral and sensitive language. Masculine languages are gender bias and undermine women and girls’ political participation which hinders inclusive government, stating that Nigeria’s electoral position shows male dominance.”
She further listed the Minister’s areas of concern to include: Section 48 of the Principal Act be altered by substituting the existing section 48 with a new section 48.
She added: “The Senate shall consist of: three Senators from each state and one from the Federal Capital Territory; and an additional Senator for each State and for the Federal Capital Territory, who shall be a woman.
“Section 49 of the Principal Act is altered by substituting the existing section 49 with a new section 49: Composition of the House of Representatives:
Subject to the provisions of the Constitution, the House of Representatives shall consist of: d, three hundred and sixty members representing constituencies of nearly equal population as far as possible provided that no constituency shall fall within more than one state; and e. two additional members for each state and for the Federal Capital Territory, who shall be women.”
Others, she said, include; “Section 71 of the Principal Act be altered by inserting immediately after sub-sections (1) (a) and (b), new subsections “(2)” and “(3)”:
“For the purpose of section 48 of the Constitution, a state shall constitute an additional senatorial seat to be occupied by a woman.”
According to her, for the purpose of section 49 of the Constitution, the Independent National Electoral Commission shall divide each state of the federation into two federal constituencies to be occupied by women.