Defective constitution aids rising poverty among women — UN rapporteur

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From OLADELE ADEDAYO, Ado-Ekiti
A United Nations Special Rapporteur on Trafficking,Dr. Ngozi Ezeillo, has traced the rising poverty level among Nigerian women to the defective constitution being operated in the country.
Dr. Ezeillo,who is a gender activist, said Nigerian women are poverty stricken because their rights are not adequately protected in the constitution, especially 1999 Constitution.
She made the observation yesterday in Ado-Ekiti,the Ekiti State capital while delivering a lecture entitled :‘Human Security and its Implications for women’,in commemoration of the 2nd Ekiti Gender Summit jointly sponsored by Ekiti Development Foundation and Ministry of Women Affairs.
In attendance at the occasion were: First Ladies from Ekiti,Osun, Lagos,Ogun,Kwara and Oyo States,Erelu Bisi Fayemi,Alhaja Serifat
Aregbesola,Dame Abimbola Fasola,Mrs. Foluso Amosun,Mrs. Omolewa Abdufatah Ahmed and Mrs. Florence Ajimobi respectively.
Dr. Ezeillo who was a former Commissioner for Women Affairs in Enugu state lamented that Nigerian women lack adequate protection under the Law,including the right to be free from all forms of discrimination,‘de jure and de facto’.
She noted that section 42 of the 1999 constitution prohibits discrimination against women,but noted that discrimination against womenfolk has continued to fester owing to poor implementation of the provision.
Condemning how women were allegedly sidelined in the constitution,the Speaker said,”Section 55 of the penal code permits wife chastisement,that is spousal beating,which is an instance of the institutionalization of violence,while section 26 fails to recognize the right of Nigerian women to pass their citizenship to their foreign spouses.
“Also,Section 29 presumes minors who are married women to be of full age thereby encouraging child marriage,which is already prevalent with its attendant consequences on the health and rights of women”,she said.
Speaking on the occasion,the Governor’s wife,Erelu Bisi Fayemi, said the Ekiti State Government under Governor Kayode Fayemi,has broken the barrier of gender inequality by appointing more women into strategic positions in the Executive Council, State House of Assembly,civil service and boards.
Mrs. Fayemi stated that the government has further palliated the sufferings of the women by domesticating the National Gender Policy and the enacted several Laws like Gender Based Violence Prohibition Law,establishment of multiple birth Trust Fund and free vocational trainings to give women sense of belonging.
However,the Commissioner for Women Affairs in the state,Mrs. Fola Richie Adewusi,said the Government in its resolve to ensure relevance for women,has approved the establishment of Gender Based Violence Fund to support the victims of Gender Based Violence in the State.

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