Nigerian women demand greater representation in parliaments

Women’s rights groups demonstrated in the Nigerian capital on Wednesday to demand greater representation of women in the country’s parliaments. Lawmakers on Tuesday approved a bill that would reserve 20% of seats for women, but protesters say a fifth is not enough.

Some 200 women barricaded the entrance to the Nigerian National Assembly, waving posters and banners and singing songs. Protesters, including market women, civil servants and various professionals, blocked lawmakers from entering their offices on Wednesday.

Protesters say they were unhappy with Tuesday’s vote to increase women’s share of parliamentary seats nationally and nationally to 20%, nearly triple the current rate of 7%. They want 35% of the seats to go to women.

“We need new ideas, new minds and diverse opinions, that’s why we’re lobbying for women,” said Cynthia Mbamalu, organizer of Wednesday’s protest. “If we have women in government, there will be an assessment of policies and laws from the perspective of men and women and we look at issues that affect women, children and young people from a diverse perspective We can’t expect development or things to change.” if the decisions are made by the same kind of people.”

Women dance and sing as they protest to demand better representation of women in parliaments, at Nigeria’s National Assembly in Abuja on March 2, 2022. (Timothy Obiezu/VOA)

Hansatu Adegbite, who leads the Women in Business initiative, also took part in the protest.

“Women need to stand up, enough is enough,” she said. “I am calling on every woman in any sector to rise up and let us take over this nation. This is about all of us and we are here to take over this nation once and for all. all.”

Nigerian lawmakers this week began an exercise to revise the country’s 1999 national constitution.

Women’s representation in Nigeria’s parliament, at around 4%, is among the lowest in the world. Activists say patriarchy and cultural biases are factors influencing women’s low participation in government.

Lawmakers responded to protesters after hours of demonstrations.

Deputy Chief Whip Sabi Abdullahi promised protesters that their demands would be reviewed.

“The conversation we are having now is a good step and I want us to take it as a work in progress and as we talk we understand the issues, I’m sure we can get somewhere,” Abdullahi said.

Africa has seen an increase in the number of women in parliament, but a European research group, the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance, says African countries are unlikely to meet the target of gender parity in politics by 2030.

Nigerian protesters said African countries like Senegal, Rwanda, South Africa, Tanzania and Botswana are involving more women in key economic and political positions.

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