Akpabio Pledges 10th National Assembly’s Support for Gender Bill

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President of the Senate, Godswill Akpabio, has assured Nigerian women that the Gender Equality Bill, which has faced setbacks on the floor of the Senate over the years, will be revisited by the 10th National Assembly.

He made this promise in his remarks at the International Conference On Women in Governance organized by the National Institute For Legislative and Democratic Studies in Abuja.

Akpabio encouraged women, both in appointive and elective positions in the administration led by President Bola Tinubu, to actively engage in the lobbying process to ensure the realization of the bill.

He advised women to rally support for women contesting elective offices, given their substantial population.

Akpabio reiterated his commitment to improving the conditions of women in Nigeria and enhancing their political representation, economic status, and participation in governance.

“Familiar with my history, one would affirm my dedication to promoting gender equality across all facets of life, particularly in the public sector

“During my tenure as a governor, I implemented policies that deliberately favored the appointment of women to key positions within my government.

“This was a recognition of the significant contributions women make towards the political, social, and economic advancement of any state.

“I have consistently argued that for Nigeria to truly flourish, it must urgently invest in women’s empowerment.”

He emphasized that addressing the challenge of low female representation in governance must go beyond tokenism, aiming for genuine representation in which women’s voices are genuinely heard, valued, and integrated into government policies and laws.

He asserted that authentic inclusion of women in political leadership would reshape Nigeria’s trajectory towards meaningful transformation and sustained progress.

“Empowering women is crucial, considering their overall contribution to the Nigerian economy. In alignment with this strategic significance of women, the ‘Renewed Hope’ Agenda of President Ahmed Bola Tinubu emphasizes women’s empowerment.

“This policy document recognizes that for Nigeria to reach its fullest potential, every segment of the population must have a fair chance to contribute to the country’s well-being and advancement.

“The agenda emphasizes the specific need for social inclusion and political empowerment. Accordingly, it states that the President will collaborate with the National Assembly to enact a law that promotes increased employment of women across all government offices, ministries, and agencies, aiming for women’s participation in government to be at least 35 percent.

“This legislation, upon drafting, will also mandate the federal executive to reserve a minimum number of senior positions for women, and the private sector will be strongly encouraged to do the same.

“It’s worth noting that the President has already achieved certain milestones, with women constituting around 20 percent of the newly inaugurated cabinet.

“While falling short of the 35 percent affirmative action, this is a significant improvement compared to the previous cabinet, which had 15 percent women representation.”

In his address, the Speaker of the House of Representatives lamented that the outcome of the 2023 General Elections was a major setback for the efforts to increase women’s representation in government.

Abass pledged that the National Assembly would collaborate with key stakeholders, including political party leaders, to facilitate greater access for women’s active participation in governance.

Director-General of NILDS, Prof. Abubakar O. Sulaiman, highlighted that the results of the 2023 General Elections reignited discussions about women’s political participation and governance in Nigeria.

He mentioned that the conference aimed to critically examine why women’s political representation continued to decline despite policy frameworks, advocacy efforts by domestic and international actors, and civil society initiatives.

The conference would also address why attempts to constitutionalize affirmative action and quota systems for women had consistently failed since 1999, among other relevant issues.

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