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Has democracy favoured them? - Hamzat Lawal makes case for Nigerian women

Lawal noted that he would continue to fight and seek justice for marginalised and vulnerable Nigerian women.

Hamzat Lawal, founder Connected Development (CODE). [X, Formerly Twitter]

Human rights activist and founder of Connected Development (CODE) Hamzat Lawal has advocated for women and young girls’ participation in democratic affairs.

Lawal made this appeal on Tuesday, June 12, at the launch of CODE’s impact report on some of its advocacies in 2023.

Lawal’s response to making a case for women’s inclusion in democratic affairs was triggered when Pulse Nigeria asked about the role of CODE in the fight for 35% affirmative action for women in governance.

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“President Bola Ahmed Tinubu won because women and young people voted for him. So why must we have affirmative action? In Rwanda today, over 60% of the cabinet members are women. So, why can’t Nigeria get there,” he said.

He noted that CODE would continue to fight and seek justice for Nigeria’s marginalised and vulnerable.

The national gender policy mandating 35% female participation in all governance processes, known as the 35% affirmative action for women, aims to ensure significant representation of women.

In 2022, the Nigeria Women Trust Fund (NWTF), International Federation of Women Lawyers, Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD - West Africa), Women Empowerment & Legal Aid (WELA), along with five other civil society organisations, initiated legal proceedings to revive the demand for this policy.

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On April 6, 2022, the Federal High Court ruled that “Dismantling barriers to women’s participation in public spheres has been achieved through progressive interpretation of municipal laws and international obligations and treaties. “Formulating Policies based on sex, stereotyping, and feudal and patriarchal traditions will no longer be tolerated due to the supremacy of constitutional values.”

With this decisive verdict, the national assembly, led by Senator Godswill Akpabio and Honourable Tajudeen Abbas, continues obstructing this reform for women.

Meanwhile, countries such as Cape Verde, Rwanda, the Republic of Benin, and Sierra Leone have already adopted this policy.

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