Thursday 19 March 2020


The 18th of March 2020 was the day stakeholders converged in Abuja to make their inputs into the on-going discussion on amendment to the Constitution and the Electoral Act. The focus of the meeting was 'gender sensitivity' in the content and language of the two documents. I was a major stakeholder at the meeting supported by NDI (National Democratic Institute), USAID and UKaid. Barr. Esther Uzodinma (Co-chair Nigeria's Election Situation Room) gave a good account of herself as Facilitator at the meeting.

Photo above L-R: Dr. Dayo Oluyemi-Kusa & Dr. Stephen Snook (NDI's Country Director & Chief of Party)

The following quote is from the NDI team at the event as regards the rationale for the meeting. Let them speak for themselves:

'The inclusion and participation of traditionally under-represented groups like women, youth and marginalised groups such as persons with disabilities is critical in representative democracies. Democracy delivers more when the political environment is made conducive enough for everyone to contribute to decision-making and nation-building. As government instititions at the federal and state levels begin the exhaustive process of Constitutional and Electoral reforms, there is the need to review all clauses bearing on gender equity in the 1999 Constitution, the Electoral Act and the Electoral Offences Bill. The recommendatios would then be sent to the National Assembly...'

Photo above L-R: Dr. Dayo Oluyemi-Kusa & Cynthia Mbamalu (Programme Director, YIAGA Africa - Advocates of the 'Not Too Toung To Run' phenomenon)

It was noted that the word 'Chairman' appears at least 66 times in the Constitution in reference to positions that may be held by men or women! Similarly, the word 'he' is used on many occasions to refer to people that may be male or female. The language of the Constitution should be gender-neutral. Chairperson is more gender-neutral. The consisitent use of masculine pronouns in legal instruments leaves the impession that women could not be in positions of authority! This falls short of best standards for inclusion and contributes to making women marginalised and under-represented in decision-making processes.

Photo above L-R: Ms. Asmau Leo (Representative Women In Public Service), Dayo & Barr. Ebere Ifendu (President, Women In Politics Forum - WIPF)

Other sections interrogated in the Constitution are: Sections 14 (2)d, 14 (3) & (4), 40, 42, 48, 50 (1)c, 92 (2), 142 (1), 147 (7), 187 (1), 222, 223 (1)c, etc. In the Electoral Act as amended, the following sections were critically analysed and exhaustively discussed: Sections 2, 9 (1), 10 (3), 23c, 81, 87, 90, 91 (2) - (7), 91 (10), 94, 95, 96, etc. Critical aspets of the Electoral Offences Commission Bill (SB220) were also discussed.

The debate/discussion to make these essential documents gender sensitive continues in texts, traditional and social media, etc...

Related Links

*Much work remains to be done on Nigeria's Electoral Bill, 2021 

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