The Speaker of ECOWAS Parliament, Hon Sidie Tunis has expressed dissatisfaction over the poor representation of women in Parliaments across West Africa region.
At an event to mark this year’s International Women’s Day and the 5th anniversary of ECOPARL AMAZONS, an Association formed by female staff of ECOWAS Parliament in Abuja, Tunis said recent available records by West Africa Brief indicates that only 16.1% of law markers are women in the region while 12 of the 15 member states are short of the 23.3% world average of women in governance.
The speaker, also decried the poor representation of women from Nigeria at the ECOWAS Parliament, which stands at 2 out of the 35 seats allotted to country, the highest number of seats in the Parliament.
“In the first place, ECOWAS Parliament has been very much supportive of the affirmative action in ensuring that there is minimum 30 per cent quota of female representation in the ECOWAS Parliament. Unfortunately, I understand that people did not know about it.
Some institutions did not know about it. We did not have that especially with the Nigerian delegation. You find out that in most delegations for the ECOWAS Parliament, we have for example in Sierra Leone, the delegations came with a female Member of Parliament, same goes for Ghana and other countries to ensure that we try to get a minimum of thirty percent. Some of them even came in with two female members where you have five members represention in the parliament. But unfortunately for us, a country like Nigeria which have thirty five members representation, only came in with two females. It is unfortunate that they did not know that it was a requirement in ECOWAS Parliament. I tried to talk to the Secretary General to talk to them but it was already late, they had already passed it at both the lower and upper House “.
The Speaker however pledged to continue to encourage national Parliaments, to send more females to the ECOWAS Parliament.
“This fifth legislation, my vision has always been to bring the parliament to the people and I am doing my very best to ensure that whichever country we go, we try to bring the women to the forefront and I will continue to engage National Assemblies, National Parliaments across the region to give us more women. I was in Togo, Lome, I had three meetings with the Speaker of the National Assembly, she is also a Woman. The main reason was to encourage her to give us at least two additional women to make up for the gap we have right now in the ECOWAS Parliament.” Like l said, the gap came from Nigeria”.
Tunis also expressed optimism that before the end of the Fifth legislature, a resolution would have been passed that would make it binding on member countries to send a specific number of women to the ECOWAS Parliament to achieve the 30% affirmation. ” It is very likely, with the trend that we are pushing now, that before the end of this legislature we should come out with a legislation that will make it binding . It is a commitment that l can make “.
Also speaking, the President of ECOPARL AMAZONS, Mrs Chinwe Adelekan said, as a buffer to the devastation of COVID 19 in the region, the association would extend humanitarian gestures to the less privileged and the aged, provide counsel to pregnant teenagers as well as embark on school visitation to encourage the girl child.
” The ECOPARL AMAZONS is coming up and we intend to have school visitations to girls colleges to be able to mentor the girl child and be their role models so that they can know that it is not difficult to work in an international Organisation like ours, that it is not difficult to reach the world “.