Speaker of Taraba State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Prof. Joseph Albasu Kunini has urged women to remain resolute in their clamour for emancipation and breaking the gender barriers, despite the odds against them.
Hundreds of women groups under the auspices of the National Council of Women’s Societies (NCWS), waving placards with various inscriptions, had stormed the state House of Assembly on Tuesday to register their protest against the outright rejection of the five gender-related bills by the 9th Assembly.
The Speaker, who received them, reiterated his passion for women emancipation in the society, just as he faulted the action of the members of the National Assembly, urging them to rescind their decision on the gender-related bills, which he described as germane to the present political dispensation.
‘The action of the National Assembly on the gender-related bills came as a shock. But I assure you that the Conference of Speakers will do the needful to address the situation, because I don’t think the women are asking for much.
‘The speakers of the 36 states of the federation are in serious consultation on the matter. Therefore women shouldn’t despair because of the ugly incident.
‘Nigeria, as a member of the United Nations, had ratified the 1995 Beijing Declaration which set the agenda for women’s emancipation and global policy on gender equality’, he stressed.
Prof. Kunin further assured the women that the State House of Assembly, under his leadership, wold set up an adhoc committee to collect submissions on gender-related matters from the women groups in the state.
‘Even if the Taraba State House of Assembly were to stand alone on this matter, we will not hesitate to do so, because the women too are Nigerians and their demands are not too much’, he added.
Earlier in her presentation, the Chairperson of the NCWS Taraba State, Mrs Punarimam Daniel Atenji had stated that for years, the Nigerian women had been demanding to be recognised with respect and dignity in the country, and in the process even negotiated and compromised many of their needs.
‘The continued disregard to our yearnings and aspirations to be productively included in our political spaces shows that we are not respected, but only needed in these spaces for our numbers, ability to mobilise and campaign for the men in this country.
‘Mr. Speaker, Sir, every human being needs recognition and integration; the women seek inclusion in politics and governance in the country and, therefore, resolve in a peaceful protest to send a message that the women five-point Bill should be revisited and passed as a law’, she said.
She then listed the five gender-related items as follows: Citizenship to foreign-born husband of a Nigerian woman; the ability of the women to take indigeneship of their husbands’ states after five years of being married; reservation of 30 per ce of appointed positions for women in the cabinets; implementation of the Beijing Conference Affirmative Action of 30% of number of women in party administration and leadership; and reservation of 111 specific seats for women in the National and state Houses of Assembly.