Nollywood Stars, Women Activists Rally Against Gender Discrimination


More than 200 women across the nation walked against gender discrimination. The walk, which lasted two hours, had in attendance female activists, women politicians and Nollywood stars, including Ejike Asiegbu and Shan George. With one voice, they demanded that the review of the 1999 Constitution should address gender discrimination.

The road show was organised by a network of women groups under the aegis of Gender and Constitution Reform Network (GECORN), and supported by the Democratic Governance for Development (DGD) project of the United Nations Development Programme, UNDP.

From the secretariat of the Women Advocate Research and Documentation Center (WARDC), Toyin Street, Ikeja, Lagos, the women and youth groups took to the streets singing, dancing and sharing information leaflets about issues of gender concerns in the constitution.

National Coordinator, GECORN, Ms. Abiola Akiyode-Afolabi, in a paper entitled: “Gender Gaps in the 1999 Constitution,” observed that participatory constitution making provides a veritable opportunity for women to gain representation in process and outcome.

“Women in some notable African countries like South Africa, Uganda, Rwanda and Eritrea were instrumental in demanding such constitutional inclusion, where governance or social conditions have previously made free entry difficult or silenced their voices, Nigeria should not be an exception,” she stated.

“The history of successive constitutions in Nigeria has been a history of exclusion, discrimination and imposition on gender bias provisions, a trend which should not be continued, especially in the face of current democratic realities and so the whole essence of the road show and dialogue is to advocate for the inclusion of women concerns as well as the concerns of people with disabilities in the current ongoing constitution review process in Nigeria.

“A truly democratic constitution as being sought by Nigerians should be genders sensitive and non discriminating and what we are telling the constitution review committees as we have earlier stated in the memorandum submitted to the committees and at the zonal hearings, is that Nigerian women want discriminatory provisions against women in the current 1999 constitution to be reviewed and appropriately amended.

“Look at the issue of the language of the constitution for example. The language in which the current constitution is written is not gender sensitive as the pronoun “he” appears in the 1999 Constitution about 235 as if it was only men that were considered as citizens, and the two places that the word ‘woman’ was used {Sections 26 (2) (a) and 29 (4) (b)} was used to cause some disadvantage to and discrimination against women.

“The use of the masculine pronoun ‘he” to include women in the entire provision reflects an unequal status between men and women and so it is necessary to divest the constitution of this anomaly to reflect the entirety of the country and affirm that not only men are citizens in Nigeria. We are therefore recommending that the 1999 Constitution should be re-drafted so that the language becomes user and gender friendly”.