The Deputy President of the Senate, Ovie Omo-Agege, has assured Nigerians that the 9th National Assembly will expand the political space for women in the ongoing amendment of the 1999 Constitution.
Omo-Agege, who is the Chairman, Senate ad hoc Committee on Constitution Review, according to a statement by his media aide, Yomi Odunuga, on Wednesday, stated this in Abuja when he hosted a delegation of a group, Women in Politics Forum, led by Ebere Ifendu.
The lawmaker noted that since the women represent 58 per cent of the Nigerian population, their voices must be heard.
He, therefore, urged them to take advantage of their numerical strength during elections.
Omo-Agege said he sponsored a constitution alteration bill which seeks to reserve 30 per cent of cabinet appointments for youth and women at the federal level and 40 percent at the state level.
He said the intention was to expand the political space for them.
He said, “We are determined to expand the political space for women.
“It is also good that you understand that we operate within the confines of the Constitution.
“That same Constitution has prohibited discrimination against anyone irrespective of gender.
“That is the challenge we have always faced with the Gender Equality Bill, sponsored by Senator Biodun Olujimi.
“Inasmuch as we are very disposed to assist her to achieve the goals of those bills in consonance with the Beijing Protocol, the challenge is how do we achieve that without enthroning a new set of discrimination?”
The Senator assured women that their interests would be protected, but not at the detriment of the constitutional provisions against discrimination of whatever form.
He called on the executive arm of government to always engage the Legislature before signing treaties and agreements.
This, he explained, will enable accelerated domestication by the National Assembly.
On her part, Ifendu called for the inclusion of Affirmative Action in the Constitution.
“There is no better time than now to achieve an inclusive democracy.
“We need to move from civil governance to true democracy where women, youth and persons with disabilities will have equal opportunities to participate in governance,” she stated.