Governor Ifeanyi Ugwanyi of Enugu State has commended a women body, Gender and Constitution Reform Network(GECORN), Non-Governmental Organisation, for its advocacy campaign on a gender -senstive constitutional amendment
He gave the commendation on Thursday when the group led by its national coordinator, Professor Joy Ezeilo, paid him a courtesy visit at Government House, Enugu.
The governor, who was represented by the Deputy Governor, Mrs Cecilia Ezeilo, expressed gladness that GOCORN has come “at a most desirable period.”
“I am very glad to note that pursuant to its remit towards engendering the Constitution and promoting gender advocacy, GECORN has responded to the calls for memorandum on the Constitution review processes in ways that have sublimely manifested it’s specialization and capacity I’m gender research advocacy, obilisation and advocacy on gender sensitive constitutional review issues.
” As a government, we are deeply interested in your works, focusing on building alliance and support for women’s movement building solidarity and leadership .
“The State Government is very gender sensitive and seems to be on the same page with you, as regards issues concerning violence against women, and girls, sex discrimination, and gender disparity and inequality,’ she said.
The Deputy governor disclosed that in March, 2021, Enugu state made history, as the first state in the country to formally inuagurate a multi-sectoral state committee against Gender- Based Violence, which has GECORN’s National Coordinator, Professor Joy Ngozi Ezeilo as member.
She commended GECORN and it’s associated organisations,, Women Said Collective, WACOL, Gender Awareness Trust(GAT)National Association of Women Journalists,(NAWOJ) and others.
Earlier in her speech, Ezeilo told the governor that the group had been active in pursuit of constitutional amendment that would protect the interest of women.
She said that “Gender and Constitution Reform Network (GECORN) is a network of over 200 Non-Governmental and Community based Organisations, borne out of the need to have a viable coalition , working towards the mobilisation of women in all sectors for a gender review of the Constitution of Nigeria .
“GECORN works towards engendering the Constitution and promoting gender democracy. It has organisational structures in all the 36 states of Nigeria and is being managed by zonal and state coordinators.”
Ezeilo, who is also the dean of Law Faculty, University of Nigeria, Enugu Campus, (UNEC), said that the group had been to National Assembly and made their presentations and what remains is advocacy.
According to her, in their presentation titled,” ‘Gender and Constitution Reforms in Nigeria Critical Issues Memorandum on the Review of the 1999 Constitution”, the group observed that, “Constitution making in Nigeria has persistently, marginalised women and this dates back to the colonial times when women were not allowed to vote. There was no woman member of the Constitution Drafting Committee that brought the 1979 Constitution into existence. The 1999 Constitution making was an all male affairs as the Provisional Ruling Council (PRC) of General Abdusallami Abubakar regime was made up of military officers , all male”, she said..
GECORN also observed that the “Constitution makes no provision for the process by which non- Nigeria men married to Nigerian women and who are so desirous, may become Nigerian citizens but provided for Nigerian men married to non-Nigerian women , .Section 26(b).”
The National Coordinator pointed out that Section 34 of the Constitution generally speaks on rights to dignity of human persons but is not specific on critical women’s rights issues such as widowhood practices , harmful traditional practices”.
The 1999 Constitution, Ezeilo said, has no provision for temporary affirmative action to enable at least 30% to enhance women’s political power. She noted that reproductive Heth and human rights recognised as a development and human rights issue are not specifically provided in the 1999 Constitution among other issues.
The group urged that the 1999 Constitution be amended to confer citizenship by registration to a foreign spouse of a woman just like her male counterpart. Guarantee at least 30% of affirmative measure for women in both elective and political appointive positions. GOCORN called for a creation of additional special seats for women in federal and States legistrature (two seats reserved for women from the 36 states in the House of Representatives and One seat in each senatorial zone to encourage women’s participation in politics among others.