Godwin AJOM, Calabar
As the International Women’s Day celebration continues to gain momentum, Scores of women in Cross River State, in the spirit of the celebration took a walk to the State House of Assembly.
The women went along with placards to protest against the several gender inequities in the country, where the speaker of the assembly, Rt. Hon. Eteng Jonah Williams, assured them of his support in their advocacies and asked the National Assembly to listen to the voices of the women.
The placards displayed by the women during the walk had various inscriptions such as, “30% representation is not enough “, 50% representation, we are not asking for too much”, we need 35% affirmative action”, amongst others.
The celebration also extended to the university of Calabar, where the Council chairman for Calabar South, Hon. Esther Edet Bassey represented by Mrs. Sarah Archibong, and the Centre for women development hosted women from all works of life, to commemorate the day.
In here address to the women at the University of Calabar, Bassey urged the women to shun all forms of division, if they must prevail in all their advocacies against gender iniquities in the country starting from their home state, Cross River.
“A lot has been said from different directions, and it’s about us the women, fighting each other, not fighting for ourselves, in offices, we are sitting on each other’s promotions, in some situations, women will rather vote for the men than their fellow women, irrespective of her qualification, merit or pedigree and display of excess capacity; all these has to stop.
“If we don’t speak with one voice how will the men listen to us, because some woman even in our homes between us and our mother in-laws, sister’s in-laws and daughters in-laws we are quarrelling and not working together. We have male children given preferred treatment, more than the girl child, even when the girl child is doing better.
“these time, let’s go back and think again. Let’s talk in one voice, one mind, one purpose, we can do it if others are doing it we can do it,” she said.
On his part, speaker of the state house of assembly, Rt. Hon. Eteng Jonah Williams, promised to talk to his colleagues and stakeholders in their conference of Speakers.
He assured the protesting women that the State assembly is with them and will support them till the end, and that in the House of Assembly, they are gender-sensitive and in the House of Assembly, everything about women and the girls child is a “Yes”, and is passed.
At the Open pavilion, University of Calabar, where some of the women gathered, Mrs Brenda Akpan, the executive director of Center for Gender Development, regretted that issues of gender equality contained in the constitution are denied the needed attention, said people generally believe that women are done a favor when gender equality is being promoted or mentioned.
“No meaningful progress can be made by any country, that is not gender sensitive. Gender equality ensures that both men and women are represented equally, in social, economic and political spheres of life. No one can clap with one hand; that means we need each other.
“It is very demoralizing to see the reactions from the national assembly, over the gender related bills, during the recent review of the Nigerian constitution. It was a sad day, on March 1,2022, that the 9th National assembly legitimized the discrimination of women”.
Mrs Brenda Akpan regretted that five out of the bill out of 68 bills were proposed for amendment, in the 1999 constitution, but none was passed.
“Five of the bills out of 68 were proposed for amendment, by the national assembly, but none was passed. As we are sitting here as we speak, women groups are organizing a nationwide protest across major cities in Nigeria, including Calabar. The protest is against the Senate’s decision to reject the bill of women inclusion, in the Nigerian society,” she explained.