As the world celebrates International Women’s Day, on Sunday March 8, the International Federation of Women Lawyers urges the Senate to pass into law the violence against persons’ prohibition bill before winding down
| By Anayo Ezugwu | Mar. 16, 2015 @ 01:00 GMT |
NIGERIAN women on March 8, joined the rest of the world in the celebration of the 2015 International Women’s Day, with the theme “Women Empowerment, Service to Humanity.” The International Federation of Women Lawyers, FIDA Nigerian chapter, used the occasion to call on the Senate to pass into law the Violence Against Persons’ Prohibition, VAPP, Bill before the end of the current seventh assembly.
The FIDA Nigeria said passing the VAPP bill would be benefit Nigerian women, children and vulnerable groups. In a statement signed by Hauwa Shekarau, its national president, the FIDA Nigeria reiterated that the VAPP Bill was the only holistic legal instrument that succinctly addressed issues of gender-based violence, domestic violence, some obnoxious customary practices and other forms of violence already prevalent in the country today. “Thus its importance can never be over-emphasised. Worried by the persistent and consistent rise in of gender based violence in Nigeria, especially the rape of minor, and the inadequate legal framework to prosecute such atrocious acts; FIDA Nigeria charges the Senate to prioritise the passage of the VAPP bill, in the interest of society,” the statement said.
The FIDA Nigeria also used the celebration to solicit for the partnership of the media in the advocacy process for the passage of the Bill in conjunction with other stakeholders like WRAPA, V4C, J4A, HRAN and WACOL amongst others. To realise the proposed partnership, the FIDA Nigeria further called for a press dialogue to be held on Wednesday, March 11, to re-strategise against the very limited time left in the tenure of this assembly to ensure the passage of the bill.
“FIDA Nigeria congratulates the Senate particularly the Chairman and Committee members of the Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters for their assiduous efforts that paved way for the successful public hearing of the VAPP bill at the Senate on Monday March 2, 2015. We urge them not to relent until the bill is passed. The FIDA Nigeria notes that their tireless efforts and noble achievement in this assembly will forever be remembered. The support of our development partners, other key women’s rights activists in this process and Nigerian women who turned up in mass is also commended. As we get enthralled with the current politicking for presidential and governorship elections, let us remember to continue to push the Senate to ‘Make it Happen’ for us,” Shekarau said.
Patience Jonathan, wife of President Goodluck Jonathan, also called on the government at all levels to increase the number of women in the formulation of gender responsive policies. She said women remained a galvanising force and formidable pillar in support of men in all areas of development.
Jonathan in a goodwill message to women, signed by Ayo Adewuyi, her media aide, stressed the need for political leaders, organisations and individuals to strengthen their advocacy for effective implementation of the National Gender Policy, which provides for 35 percent affirmative action. She also made a case for the domestication of the convention on the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women.
The statement read in part: “The First Lady noted with satisfaction that Nigeria has been consistent in its genuine commitment to the achievement of gender equality in various ways and at different levels. She appreciates Dr. Goodluck Jonathan for being a gender sensitive president who cares about women and has enhanced the status of women in Nigeria in the implementation of Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action.”
The recognition, she said, had made women’s contribution evident in the nation’s economy, governance structures, security, and peace building efforts as well as in every aspect of life. She emphasised that discrimination against women amount to violating the principle of equality of rights and respect for human dignity and an obstacle to the participation of women, on equal terms with men, in the political, social, economic and cultural life of their country.
So far, more than 35 percent of women in the country are occupying key positions in various ministries, department and agencies.
The International Women’s Day is a day set aside to celebrate women who must have contributed to the development of the world, while also serving as a reminder to government to canvass for policies that would advance the course of women. The celebration started in Beijing, China, in 1995, when thousands of women across the world gathered to seek the protection of the rights of women and inclusion in socio-economic development.