Strong steps forward for the African continent as Nigeria and Liberia undertake new legislation

Statement by Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UN Women on the occasion of parliamentarians in Nigeria and Liberia taking positive steps to directly support inclusivity and create opportunities for women.

Date: Monday, October 3, 2016

As long as there are laws and national policies that legitimize discrimination against women and girls, it is hard to make progress on the goals we have set ourselves for progress in ending poverty and building peace that ‘leaves no one behind’. Strong, affirmative action is needed to repeal laws that restrict women’s role in society and to introduce new laws that are designed to introduce substantial equality and support women’s rights. On 29 September, parliamentarians in Nigeria and Liberia took positive steps to directly support inclusivity and create opportunities for women to play a greater role in their communities. These are important and proactive leadership steps for the continent.

We welcome the successful reading in Nigeria by the Senate of the “Gender and Equal Opportunities Bill” on 29 September. Although the bill must still progress to its third hearing, this step demonstrates the Nigerian National Assembly’s commitment to bridge the gender gap and create a society where women as well as men are able to thrive.

On the same day, in a move that sets the stage for increased representation of women in national decision-making, the Liberian House of Representatives passed the “Equal Representation and Participation Act of 2016”. Liberia has made immense progress in the promotion of women’s participation in politics. The enactment of the bill into law will guarantee the participation of more women and other marginalized segments of the population. 

Legislation that protects women’s rights is essential to the achievement of gender equality and sustainable development and aligns both Liberia’s and Nigeria’s development priorities with the United Nation’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, in which a key target is the ending of all forms of discrimination against all women and girls, everywhere.