Kwara State Governor, Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq, has signed into law a bill that makes it mandatory to have at least 35 per cent women appointees in the State Executive Council and other classes of political appointments.
The law is cited as Kwara State Political Offices (Gender Composition) Bill 2021.
Justifying the law, the state governor on Tuesday said it was only fair that women be given a fair space in the decision-making process.
He spoke in Ilorin, the state capital, during a conference tagged ‘Cracking the glass ceiling: The story of Kwara women.’
He said his administration decided to promulgate the law so that future administrations in the state will not reverse the gains so far made in mainstreaming gender parity in appointments.
He said the step to mainstream women in public service was the least the administration could do for the hard-working women as a way of inspiring the girl child.
Abdulrazaq said, “Women are so critical to human civilisation. They are just as brilliant, innovative, and smart as men. They are the largest voting demographic in Nigeria.
Yet, they are often absent or unfairly represented when policies and programmes that shape everything concerning them and their families are designed.
“This needs a rethink. In Kwara, we have recently taken unprecedented steps to involve more women in the decision-making process.
We appointed 56.25 female cabinet members and about 50 per cent female permanent secretaries. Many key government positions are headed by women. We do not have regrets making such decisions.
“Nevertheless, the gains we have made in Kwara in mainstreaming gender parity in appointments could easily be reversed by anyone. We have therefore decided to give a legal cover for gender parity in Kwara State, no matter what party is in power. I have therefore assented to the Kwara State Political Offices (Gender Composition) Bill 2021.
“The law is arguably the first legislation of its kind in the country that places a ceiling below which the government cannot go in appointment of either gender for public offices.
“A unique feature of this legislation is that no gender class shall henceforth have below 35% representation in the State Executive Council. This opens a new chapter for inclusive political system in Kwara State and Nigeria as a whole. It is our bold contribution to the Nigerian political culture.”
The governor said the law could encourage major political parties to officially mainstream gender parity in their activities.
This is a moment to specially appreciate all of you Kwara women for the great things that you stand for,” Abdulrazaq said.
The governor’s wife, Olufolake, said the event was organised to inspire the average Kwara woman to leverage on the women-friendly initiatives of the state government to chart progressive course for themselves and be active participants in the processes of governance for the development of their immediate communities and the nation.