Lagos First Lady wants more women voices in NASS

Mrs Sanwo-Olu wants more women voices in NASS

 Dr Ibijoke Sanwo-Olu, wife of the Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, has called for more action toward strengthening women’s voices in the National Assembly.

“It is time for voices of women to be heard. We all must strive to ensure that,” she said on Wednesday at a ceremony to cement a partnership between the UN Women and National Institute for Legislative and Democratic Studies(NILDS).

The strategic partnership is expected to lead to the establishment of a women caucus in the National Assembly.

The discussion centred around the theme: “Advancing Gender Responsive Legislations Through the Establishment of Women Caucus in the National Assembly”.

Sanwo-Olu praised President Bola Tinubu for encouraging the First Lady, Mrs Remi Tinubu, to express herself out there, and not behind the scenes.

“We have come to a point where we need to put into action, whatever we are talking about, where the women’s voices need to be heard. We do not need to send our men.

“We need more women in this space to position women in the legislature.”

She commended women who were bold enough to come out during the elections, noting the uphill challenges involved before  they rose to the top.

She noted that the women were few and prayed for more women to come out, adding that the partnership was about adequate women participation in legislation.

Commending the institute, Sanwo-Olu said that she would take back the message to the governor, who was particular about gender balance.

The Director-General of the institute, Prof. Abubakar Sulaiman, said the partnership was to support and intensify efforts and advocacy around socio-economic, political and legal reforms.

Sulaiman said that the reforms were aimed at improving women’s socio-economic conditions and representation in governance.

“It is also hoped that this will translate to the creation of a broad-based, multi-party women’s caucus in the national assembly as a platform of solidarity and organisation among women parliamentarians in Nigeria.

“This will create a sense of unity of purpose amongst female parliamentarians, irrespective of party affiliations, for the purpose of promoting gender inclusion.

“There is the need to draw from African comparative experiences to expose female parliamentarians to the lessons from successful cases of established women caucuses through experience sharing.

“There is also the need to draw commitment and support from male gender champions (He4shes),  in a bid to achieve gender equity through their support for gender-responsive legislations,” he said.

The director general appreciated the President of the Senate, who is also the Chairman, NILDS Governing Council, Godswill Akpabio, among others.

He said that gender inclusion was important for inclusive and sustainable development.

He added that despite this recognition, limited progress had been made in promoting gender inclusion and women empowerment in Nigeria in line with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

“The outcomes of the 2023 General Elections, where less than five per cent of female candidates won their elections, has further accentuated the poor state of women representation in governance in Nigeria.

‘Such a decline can  undermine  concerns and interests of women in public policy and decision making, undercut women empowerment and, ultimately, deter inclusive political, socio-economic and human development.

“While there have been concerted efforts by the government, Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), donor agencies and international partners in addressing these concerns, notable gaps still remain,” he said.

In her goodwill message, Ms Beatrice Eyong, UN Women Country Representative for Nigeria and ECOWAS, commended the National Assembly and women parliamentarians for convening to discuss the gender agenda in Nigeria.

She hinted that the UN Secretary General was particular about balance and currently had 50-50 representation of men and women at the UN headquarters.

Eyong said that many countries had made progress in achieving women leadership and increasing the number of women in  parliament, which required leadership and political will.

“We should all be asking: ‘where are the women? Nigeria has the most intelligent, result-oriented women globally,” Eyong said.

Mrs Bolaji Dada, Commissioner for Women Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, Lagos State, said that gender inclusion was a pivotal issue for Nigeria’s developmental advancement.

Dada said that in the country’s pursuit of a sustainable government, gender inclusion is paramount.

Mrs Kafilat Ogbara, Chairperson, House Committee on Women Affairs, National Assembly, called on women to be proactive on women issues after their elections into the legislature.

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