By Osondu Ahirika
The year 2022 International Women’s Day celebration may have come and gone, but memories and milestones covered will linger with us for a long time.
On March 8, 2022, aggrieved Nigerian women occupied the National Assembly, protesting over the rejection of Gender Bills and vowed to continue the protest until the leadership of the National Assembly addresses their grievances.
The rejection of constitutional amendments that would have favoured women by the National Assembly triggered the protests, which featured wives of governors, women groups and activists.
Part of the amendments that failed include the clause for creation of 111 special seats for women, being able to take on the indigene-ship of their husbands, passing their nationality to their foreign spouses, having 35 per cent in political party leaderships and having more appointments into political offices and positions.
The women in unanimous resolve have argued that if women come out to vote people into power, they also have the right to run. They said the issues of Nigeria will reduce with the input of females and therefore the gender bills must be reconsidered and passed into law. A redress is underway by the National Assembly.
In Akwa Ibom State, however, the story is different, women are smiling because Governor Udom Emmanuel has been gender sensitive since he assumed office.
Governor Emmanuel, who honoured the women on their day, assured that all pending bills seeking to promote the rights of Akwa Ibom State women shall immediately be signed into law.
Addressing a large gathering of women during the grand-finale of the 2022 International Women’s Day celebration at Ibom Hall Grounds in Uyo, the governor extolled the ingenuity of the State Ministry of Women Affairs, the Family Empowerment and Youth Reorientation Path-Initiative (FEYReP) and the entire Akwa Ibom women on their determination and commitment to championing the cause of women in the state.
While reflecting on the theme of the 2022 International Women’s Day, Gender Equality for Sustainable Tomorrow, the state governor gave his word that the one or two women-related bills that are pending will be signed into law. He disclosed that the attorney-general has his nod to forward those bills, assuring that he will sign all of them into law.
Reading a report from the Media Unit of Government House, we glean more facts.
“On the agitation for 35 per cent inclusion of women in government, the governor assured that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has put in place a gender-friendly template to promote the inclusion of women in politics and that his administration will continue to create equal opportunity for women. These, he said, include 35 per cent inclusion of women in the party executive across all structures of the party from units to the national and free nomination forms for any woman declaring intention to run for any office on the party’s platform,” the report said.
Governor Emmanuel has walked his talk. He has made a deliberate policy on political inclusion of women at all levels of governance. They have never had it so good.
Women are serving as local government chairmen. Others are vice chairmen of councils, while several others are councillors and supervisory councillors. Indeed, some are principal officers of the local government council legislatures.
They are in the State Executive Council, the State House of Assembly, chairmen and members of boards and commissions, women have been fairly given opportunities and appointments. Governor Emmanuel has since broken the bias against women in the political structure and composition of the state, which is commendable.
On that International Women’s Day, Governor Emmanuel appealed to women in the state to pay equal attention to both male and female children in their motherly roles, attributing the increase of vices in the society to neglect of the male child in the family, especially in terms of vigilance and discipline, promising to pursue a review of the law exempting underage youths from prosecution, especially for cases of murder and mayhem on fellows.
He also charged the women on continuous capacity building, self-confidence and urged them never to be limited by external forces for that is the surest pathway to breaking the shackles of bias against women, culturally, religiously, politically or economically as they show capacity and competence in all ramifications.