Gender Equity: Women Are Nation Builders – Dogara

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Speaker
of the House of Representatives, Mr Yakubu Dogara, says women play an important role in nation building, and should therefore be
encouraged to learn more about the democratic process and contribute to
governance.

He made this remark on Wednesday during an address at the
retreat for wives of members of the House of Representatives.
The retreat, which was organised by the National Institute for Legislative Studies, aims
to strengthen the role of spouses of legislators in the democratic
process, raise awareness among political spouses on the roles and
responsibilities of their husbands as lawmakers, broaden understanding
of participants of the structure of government and political processes,
deepen their knowledge of the legislative practice and procedure, and
identify ways in which they can contribute in the work of their spouses. 
Mr Dogara,
who commended the women for the initiative, also said that the
existence of the association is “predicated on the urgent need for team
work, collaboration, cooperation, non-partisanship, social bonding and
synergy necessary for legislators to work optimally in the national
interest.”
He,
however, cautioned against gender-based discrimination, which the name
of the association could unwittingly perpetrate, and suggested a more
gender neutral name for the group.
“In
order to avoid discrimination against persons based on gender as
outlawed by our Constitution, I have a few suggestions to make. Firstly,
I wish to respectfully suggest a change of name from House of
Representatives Wives Association (HORMWA) to House of Representatives
Spouses Association (HORMSA). The reason is very simple. It is not only
men that are represented in the House. It is patently discriminatory of
our female colleagues in the House as their spouses have no similar
Association. We must bear in mind that we have even had a female Speaker
of the House of Representatives, in the person of Her Excellency, Rt.
Hon. (Mrs) Patricia Etteh, I have support for this proposition in the
practices of other nations of the world. Examples can be found in the
Philippines House of Representatives and even in the United States
Congress, among others.”
He
also advocated for the inclusion of spouses of former members, as doing
so would be in accord with best practices worldwide for similar
associations.
“The influence of spouses particularly women cannot be underestimated”, the Speaker said.
“Most
often he or she is the only person that you talk to when you come back
from work. It is therefore of critical importance that your spouse is
knowledgeable on what goes on in the House and even on current affairs
of State.”
“Let
me tell you a story. The Congressional Club, USA which is similar to
your association was founded in 1908. The first President of the Club,
Mrs. James B. Perkins of New York, and her Board decided to seek a
Congressional Act of Incorporation. On May 20, 1908, Mrs. John Sharp
Williams, wife of the House Minority Leader who was opposed to the Act,
invited her husband to a private lunch between them. She supported the
existence of the Club. While they were busy dining, he couldn’t attend
the sitting of the House, and consequently, the House of Representatives
passed the Act unanimously without him! Don’t joke with women!”, he
said, and this narration elicited cheer from the audience.
“I
want to also advise that apart from acquainting yourselves with the
legislative and political work of your spouses, it would do great
justice to the image of this association if you also concentrate on
issues concerning children, gender, community and humanitarian
activities. You have a great role to play in keeping our families
together for a well organised family is the bedrock of any society. 
Indeed, behind every terrorist, armed robber, social deviant is someone
who lacks parental care and attention. So you can play an important role
in the security and well being of our nation.” Dogara said.

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