President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, has said that Nigeria cannot afford to neglect its women population if the country must record meaningful growth and development.
According to him, the issue of gender diversity hasn’t been sufficiently addressed through policies of government and legislation to ensure equal opportunities for women.
Lawan made this known on Thursday when a high-level delegation of women comprising of members of the Technical Committee on Gender and Equal Opportunities Bill paid a visit to his office in Abuja.
The delegation which was led by Senator Biodun Olujimi were at the National Assembly to seek the support of the upper chamber to re-introduce the Gender and Equal Opportunities Bill for consideration and passage.
Those on the delegation include the Director-General of the National Centre for Women Development, Hon. (Dr) Asabe V. Bashir, who represented the Minister for Women Affairs, Paulen Talen; Princess Joan Jumai Idonije; and Ms Comfort Lampey, United Nations representative to Nigeria.
Others on the Technical Committee of the Gender and Equal Opportunities Bill are Prof. Joy Ezeilo, Ms Bukky Williams, Ms Toun Okewale-Sonaiya, Barr. Eqy Anazonwu, Ms Ashley C. Dauda (UN Women), Mr Desmond Oselobo (UN Women), Mrs Tayo Agunbiade, and Ms Doyinsola Adesua.
The Senate President in his welcome address commended the delegation for going through the right channels of engagement and consensus building in advocating support for the Bill.
He, however, advised the group to take advantage of the ongoing constitutional review exercise to advance their submissions.
He said, “I believe that you’re undertaking this advocacy at the right time when the Constitution Review Committee in the Senate and, indeed, in the House are all working on the memos presented by Nigerians.
“So, we should take the opportunity and advantage of making your case very well known.”
Lawan, while advocating for better opportunities for Nigerian women, underscored the need for government to prioritise the needs of the women population.
“With the demographic disposition of being 50 per cent of Nigerians, we must do better with engagements and opportunities for our women than we have so far done.
“We can’t afford as a country to neglect this segment of the population.
“So, I want to assure you that we will continue to work together without ladies in the Senate and, indeed, the National Assembly, to continue to engage our Distinguished colleagues and Honourable members.”
The Senate President, however, advised the group to give premium consideration to the socio-cultural diversity of Nigeria as a heterogeneous society in coming up with provisions to be accommodated in the Gender and Equal Opportunities Bill.
“I appreciate the fact that we all know that Nigerians a diverse country. We have diversity in culture and other things, but we also have diversity in gender.
“And when we talk about diversity, I think most of the time we tend to be very parochial.
“Gender diversity, I think, has not been sufficiently addressed. While we try to do that, we must be sensitive to the diversity of culture and so on.”