Court Orders FG To Comply With 35% Affirmative Action For Women

Women protesters celebrate after the House of Representatives agreed to review the rejected bills following days of protests at the gate of the National Assembly in Abuja, RECENTLY

The Federal High Court in Abuja has ordered the government to comply with the 35% affirmative action for women, which allows women occupy 35% of all appointments.

Delivering judgement on Wednesday, Justice Donatus Okorowo, said the Federal Government had the obligation to implement the 35 per cent affirmative action, accusing past governments of acting in breach of international treaties on women participation in government.

Justice Okorowo added that the National Gender Policy is not merely a policy statement, but one that must be backed with requisite action on the part of the government.

He said the 35% affirmative action which entails appointive positions for women to ensure inclusivity must not be merely on paper as Nigeria is a signatory to international treaties, particularly on those entrenching the rights of women.

Reacting to the judgement, the Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian Women Trust Fund, Mufuliat Fijabi said: “For us, this is a victory and we know that the government will acknowledge this and do the needful in terms of ensuring that we have a balanced system of governance that will bring about fast development for the country”.

This marks a step closer to victory for women who had been pushing against the rejection of gender-related bills by lawmakers in the ongoing constitution review process.

One of the bills titled ‘Act to Alter the Provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 to Provide for Special Seat for Women in the National and State Houses of Assembly; and for Related Matters’, failed after 208 members out of 290 present, voted against it in March

Since then, various women groups occupied the gate of the National Assembly in protest against the rejection.

They demanded that the Federal lawmakers take another look at the requests for 111 seats for women, citizenship, 35% representation in party leadership, more appointive positions in government, and vote in favour of the amendments.

After days of incessant protests, the leadership of House of Representatives promised to review and revisit the bills. In response, the women agreed to suspend their protest for a week.

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