THE Conference of Speakers of State Legislatures in Nigeria has expressed its readiness to support the amendment of the 1999 Constitution to ensure gender parity and enact laws to improve the fortunes of women and girls in the country.
This was just as a network of over 100 women groups demanded the expunging of all provisions of the law and political party constitutions, which infringed on the rights of women in Nigeria.
The decision of the State lawmakers was conveyed on Thursday night when the coalition of women groups held an interactive dinner with the leaders of the 36 State Legislatures, in Abuja.
Speaking, the Chairman, Conference of Speakers of State Legislatures in Nigeria, Rt. Hon. Abubakar Suleiman stated that with the domestication of the Violence Against Persons Prohibition (VAPP) Law by 31 State Houses of Assembly, the work to protect the rights of women and other vulnerable populations has just begun.
He said, “Violence against women remains one of the most widespread, prevalent, and largely unpunished violations of human rights in the world today.
“Legislators at the National and State level are key stakeholders in the elimination of gender-based violence in all its forms and are strategically placed to drive the national changes required to achieve this aim.
“We have both individual and collective responsibility to not only enact strong legislation but also to monitor the implementation of these policies and hold the executive arm of government accountable for making this legislation more effective.
“We, therefore, commit to a continuous partnership with civil society organizations particularly women rights organisations to support State action plans on ending gender-based violence through oversight role.
“Also critical is the issue of constitution amendment, we are aware of the urgent need to support women’s representation in decision making. To this end, we pledge to support gender alterations in constitutional amendments.”
Earlier, the chairperson, Network of Sexual Assault Referral Centres in Nigeria, Prof. Joy Ezeilo, commended the swift passage of the VAPP law at the state level and urged the Speakers to take the required and necessary action to enhance the smooth passage of the proposals to increase women’s leadership in parliament, party structures, and appointive positions.