‘We bring a lot to the table’ — UN Women speaks on rejection of gender bills

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Comfort Lamptey, UN Women country representative to Nigeria, says parliaments with more female members address a wider range of issues.

Federal lawmakers, on Tuesday, voted against a bill seeking to provide special seats for women in the national and state houses of assembly.

Also rejected was a bill seeking to provide “reserve quota” for women on appointments.

Speaking at a press conference yesterday, Lamptey said it is important to get more women in the decision-making process because they bring issues to the table, which will otherwise not be covered by their male counterparts.

“The low representation of women in decision-making platforms also suggests that women’s participation in climate change interventions is not up to par with their male counterparts,” she said.

“Climate change has affected women and girls disproportionately, and this also continues to challenge their ability to withstand the impact of climate change and environmental practices.

“So in a sense, the climate crisis is not gender-neutral. It is a global crisis. And it is one where women and girls experienced some of the greatest impacts that we see of this crisis.

“Given this picture, one would think that women and girls are at the centre of efforts to find solutions. Sadly, this is not the case. Because the needs and priorities of women and girls are systematically overlooked by climate, environmental and disaster risk policies and programmes. So there is a need to focus policy attention on addressing the agenda impacts of climate change.

“We know that here in Nigeria, the federal ministry of environment has an agenda action plan. And there is the stretch show that we have political will and commitment towards the implementation of this plan so that we can see results for women and girls in the country.”

Speaking further, Lamptey said: “As I said earlier, we are struggling to see how through interventions such as the passage of the gender and equal opportunities bill, affirmative action [on] special seats bill, we can increase the underrepresentation of women in political office in Nigeria, and that’s the starting point to getting women around the table to be part of discussions including discussions around gender and climate change.

“And we know, globally, that parliaments that have more women actually address a wider range of issues from health, security, climate change, we have evidence to show that.

“So this move to get more women in decision making. It’s not just because women have a right to be around the table, but it is because they bring issues to the table, which will otherwise not be covered.

“So again, whilst linking this issue to our theme for international women’s day this year. It is imperative and urgent to get more women in decision making here in Nigeria.”