Omeiza Ajayi, Abuja

As Nigeria joins the rest of the world to mark this year’s International Women’s Day IWD with the theme, “Break the Bias”, serial entrepreneur and philanthropist, Chief Natasha Akpoti-Uduaghan has advocated deliberate legislative efforts and policy instruments to guarantee gender mainstreaming in governance, saying Nigeria cannot progress by shutting out women.

Speaking with Vanguard, the finer gubernatorial candidate in Kogi state lamented that “while most countries are progressing towards a fairer and more liberal world for women with a handful producing their first female presidents and Prime Ministers, Nigeria is retrogressing”.

“Just last week, the parliament discarded five bills that would have accorded women some level of equity especially – that which would enable Nigerian women married to foreign-born husbands grant their spouses Nigerian citizenship as it is with the Nigerian men married to foreign wives. And, the bill to assign 35 percent of legislative seats to women, as well as reserve 35 percent of political party leadership, for women, amongst others.

“May I remind Nigerians the Composition of the present Nigeria Senate; Out of 109 Senators, Men are 102 and Women are seven. Out of 360 members in the House of Representatives, Men are 347 and Women are 13.

“In the States Houses of Assembly; out of 999 members, only 45 are women. There are in fact, 15 states with no women in the Houses of Assembly. These states are; Kogi, Yobe, Sokoto,
Abia, Bauchi, Edo, Jigawa, Kwara, Taraba, Katsina, Zamfara, Kano, Nasarawa, Yobe and Borno.

“Sickening it is to have anyone think Nigeria can progress by shutting the doors of opportunity to women who can offer socioeconomic, political and corporate growth to nation building.

Until we forge a formidable force ahead and break these chains of bias, it is a long way for us all as a country”, she stated.

Speaking further, she said; “deeply reflecting back home to Nigeria’s status quo on women especially in leadership, I would call it a sad reoccurrence of deliberate, systemic and cultural manipulations to alienate a gender representing half its country’s population.

“Katerina Sakellaropoulou in 2020 became Greece’s first female president. As with Maia Sandu who in 2020 as well became Moldova’s first female president.

“Zuzana Čaputová is Slovakia’s president since 2019, as is Paula-Mae Weekes Of Trinidad and Tobago since 2018 both their countries first female presidents amongst many others.

“For Prime Ministers, we had the world applaud Jacinda Kate Laurell Ardern of New Zealand; Sheikh Hasina of Bangladesh; Kaja Kalas of Estonia; Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila of Namibia; Sanna Marin of Finland to mention a few serving their respective countries till date”, she added.

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