By Henry Uche, Lagos
The Nigerian Feminist Forum (NFF) in partnership with ActionAid and the Canadian Embassy is calling for federal and state laws that would mandate at least 30 per cent women representation in elective and appointive leadership positions, in line with Affirmative Action measures as contained in the declaration made at the Fourth World Conference on women in Beijing and the National Gender Policy (NGP) which advocates 30 per cent and 35 per cent, respectively.
At a press conference in Lagos, the group said that it is high time the National Assembly to enact a law to give Nigerian women their rightful positions in leadership and decision making process at the highest levels of political and economic affairs like Uganda, South Africa, Liberia and other African countries have done.
Speaking at the session, NFF National Coordinator Blessing Duru decried the structural barriers inhibiting women, as she called on women to rise up and participate fully in politics and seek elective office rather than lobbying for appointments.
Mrs Duru charged the federal and state governments as well as political parties to respect the ‘place of women’ by adhering strictly to their policies which specifies certain percentages of elective and appointive leadership positions for women pending when the National Assembly and state Houses of Assembly make laws to that effect.
‘Women deserve to be at the top and to hold elective positions and make decisions alongside men,’ Duru stated. ‘We should be encouraged to earn elective positions, we are not meant for the crumbs (few appointments) that falls from the political table of the President or governors.
‘We recommend that political parties should build a coalition of women support and advocacy group, create a support network and an enabling environment for prospective women aspirants.’
The feminist leader called for the establishment of legal funds to assist women politicians to challenge electoral malpractices of any form, adding that ‘strict punishment should be meted on anyone who sexually violates women and the girl child. Women are tired of been marginalised and relegated. We want the National Assembly and state Houses of Assembly to enact a law as South Africa, Kenya and other countries has done to enable women seek legal action against any form of injustice regarding holding political positions and decision making process in Nigeria,’ she charged.