The minister of Women Affairs and Social Development, Hajia Zainab Maina… today reiterated the need to step up campaign for a gender-balanced constitution.

Hajia Zainab Maina

The minister of Women Affairs and Social Development, Hajia Zainab Maina with other stakeholders in women civil society groups today reiterated the need to step up campaign for a gender-balanced constitution as the attempts to amend the 1999 Constitution by National Assembly intensifies.

The Minister spoke at the opening ceremony of the Strategic Dialogue on Memoranda on Gender Issues and the Constitution Review Process which organised by United Nations Democratic Programme (UNDP) in Lagos. She said for any constitution to be truly called people’s constitution it must be reflective the opinions of both men and women in the country.

According to her, “one of the outcome of the national political dialogue organised by Federal Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development, was that for democracy to thrive in the country, there must be equal participation of men and women in the policy and decision making process and that need to be entrenched in the constitution and backed with appropriate actions. It is our belief that a gender-balance constitution is the one that have the input of all categories of people.

“It was also agreed that it is imperative for Nigerian women just like their counterparts in Mozambique, Uganda and Kenya to work together to achieve success in the ongoing constitution amendment process so as to improve the ratio of representation in political offices,” Maina said.

Represented by a Deputy Director in the Ministry, Mrs Bola Labintan, said already the Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development is working with National Assembly to seek harmonisation on all the memoranda submitted before it adding that it was also agreed that lots of awareness campaign is to be created in order to to change entrenched perception about gender issues especially at the level of political parties.
Earlier in a remark, Project Director UNDP, Dr Mourtada Deme, who was represented by a gender rights expert, Anne Ikpene, said notwithstanding the turnout of women in the recent nationwide public hearing process exercise of National Assembly, the campaign for women and gender recognition in the on-going constitution review process must be sustained.

We at UNDP believe that it is important to bring together, stakeholders who are passionate about gender issues in Nigeria. We don’t have to give up based on the experiences at the recent nationwide public hearing process exercise of National Assembly. If anything, the campaign has to be sustained. The struggle must go on.

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