Plan International, a Non-governmental Organisation has raised concern over the refusal of the Nigerian parliament to pass the gender equality and equal opportunity bills.
Mr. Charles Usie, Country Director of the organisation disclosed this in a statement made available to newsmen in Abuja on Wednesday by its Communications Advisor, Mr Yunus Abdulhamid.
Usie said that the bills which had been pending before the national assembly sought affirmative actions for women in governance and political representation including 35% appointed positions for women and 20% affirmative action in party administration.
“Plan International as a gender responsive and equal rights organisation stands in solidary with the Nigerian women.
“We call on the National Assembly to reconsider their stance and pass the Gender Equality bills to strengthen our democracy and ensure the full participation of women and equitable representation in governance,” he said.
The country director said the action of the parliament had the potential to undermine the importance and relevance of women’s contribution to governance in the country.
He said this including the key role women played to galvanise support and victory to political parties in elections.
He expressed regret that the lawmakers chose the month of March when women are being celebrated across the world in recognition of their achievements, leadership, courage, strength and resilience.
“The essence of affirmative action in all civilised society is not an act of favouritism or conferment of undeserved privileges, but correcting unfair arrangement in public domain.
” It is also to create an enabling equal opportunities for all as well as giving everyone a fair chance.
” Passing this bill would have earned members of the current national assembly an enviable place in history,” Usie said.
According to him, it is troubling that the representatives did not provide any reason for the rejection of the bill in spite of its significance.
He added that the constitution guaranteed all its citizens their fundamental human rights including freedom from discrimination as enshrined in chapter 4, section 42 of the 1999 constitution to participate in public life.
He said this was in line with various international instruments such as the Beijing Platform for Action, the Protocol to the African Union Charter for Human and Peoples Rights, among others.