Why Women Should Vie for Leadership Positions at the Grassroots – Deputy Speaker, Kalu

…reassures NASS’ readiness to reconsider rejected gender bills

Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Benjamin Okezie Kalu, has advised Nigerian women to extend the advocacy for inclusion in leadership positions to the grassroot level.

Kalu gave the advise in Abuja when he received a delegation from an advocacy group, known as Women Round-table for Development and Good Governance, who paid him a courtesy visit in his office at the National Assembly.

In a statement signed by his Special Assistant on Press Affairs, Udora Orizu, the Deputy Speaker said it’s important for women, aside from the federal legislature, to also advocate to fill other leadership gaps such as councillorship positions in the local government and House of Assembly membership in the states.

Kalu who observed that the advocacy has been centred mainly around the federal legislature, said that leadership should start from the grassroots to reflect the bottom to top approach.

He said that it’s high time the women started looking at available opportunities, where these various gender imbalances exist and begin to drive it.

Commending President Bola Ahmed Tinubu for the inclusion of women in his administration, the Deputy Speaker reassured National Assembly’s commitment to reconsider and pass the rejected gender bills.

He said, “I’m incredibly humbled that you deem it fit to be here today to start your advocacy, early, it appears to me that you have drawn your stakeholders mapping, stakeholders administration lists for the passage of gender related bills. The Office of the Deputy Speaker remains the Chairman of the Committee of the House on constitution review and coming here today means you’re joining forces with other gender based advocates across Nigeria to speak with one voice. I must say that in a society striving for equitable development, addressing fundamental issues like gender equality, inclusiveness is imperative.

“In Nigeria where women and girls constitute 49.32% of our population. The representation in institutions, especially the legislature, like you just mentioned now, which currently has about 4% of the women, needs urgent attention. But beyond that, it is important for women to know that the federal legislature is not only the political platform for their participation, there are other leadership gaps, from councillorship positions in our local government to members of the House of Assembly in our states. It appears to me the advocacy has been centred only around federal legislature. That is a top bottom approach. The bottom top approach is that we should accommodate that leadership should start from the grassroots. It’s high time the women started looking at available opportunities. Where these various gender imbalances exist and begin to drive it, because everything that is handed over to the women multiplies. It have been proven time and again. If that is the case, like we know is the case, how come the local governments are not feeling the impact of these women’s participation? How come the advocacy is not resonating at the local government level, at the state level? I’m not hearing of advocacy at the state level for women participation.

“The legislature is just one, executive is there and the judiciary. As you advocate for the participation of women and the balance in the legislature, encourage your girl child to also show presence in the judiciary. It is important that they are educated to occupy the leadership position that exists in the judiciary, which is driven by professionalism, by education. That brings me to ensuring that every child is given an opportunity to be well educated. Having said that, the tenth assembly presents a pivotal moment to advance women’s rights and increase female participation in politics, it’s one of the areas of focus in our legislative agenda are vital for national progress given historical context.

“In conclusion, let us seize the opportunity presented by the tenth National Assembly to champion gender equity of women empowerment. We are ready for that it is part of our legislative agenda, which we just passed. We paved the way for a more inclusive and Representative society. Together, we can rewrite the narrative and ensure that our institutions reflect the diversity and reflect the potentials of our nation. I want to assure you that the parliament is on this journey with you.”

Speaking earlier, the leader of the advocacy group, Hon. Princess Nikky Onyeri appealed to the Deputy Speaker to help ensure that the gender bills when reintroduced, get the support of his colleagues.

While informing him that they are starting the lobbying and advocacy early, she opined that the bills before they are reintroduced should be domesticated in line with our culture so that men and women in the country will buy into it.

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