Some women delegates at the ongoing National Conference have objected to the use of masculine pronouns to refer to them in the rule of procedure in the conference.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the bone of contention has been the use of “he”, “his” and “her” during the plenary.
Speaking on Monday in Abuja during deliberations on the drafted procedure for the conference, they said that the rule should be amended to read “she” or “he/she” or “his/her” during plenary.
Mrs Abiola Afolabi, who is the Executive Director, Women Advocates’ Research and Documentation Centre, Lagos, said that the amendment became necessary to ensure that women delegates were not marginalised.
“Mr Chairman, the rule referred to me as “his” and I feel that I am not included in this proceeding. I am proposing that the rule should be amended to either be “she” or we should use “his/her”.
She described the use of masculine pronouns in reference to women delegates at the conference as “offensive”.
Order XIV Rule 1 provides that: “in these rules unless the context otherwise requires: (a) “he” includes “she”.
But the women protested that “he” could not have included “she” but rather “she” should include “he”.
When Order III Rule 1 was being debated, the women described the phrase “every delegate shall enter his name” as excluding the women and demanded for inclusion.
Another delegate, Mrs Bisi Olateru-Olagbegi, said that women delegates needed to be carried along in every aspect of the conference.
Olagbegi called for a change in the language of the rules, adding that all the delegates were not men.
“It is important that we change the language once and for all. It is not difficult for us to change “he” to “she” or “him to her’’.
“This is necessary so that the female delegates can also feel included in the whole process.
“This conference is an inclusive process for both male and female citizens of this country,’’ Olagbegi said.
Mrs Josephine Anenih also urged the conference to change the language of the drafted rule to accommodate women and to avoid conflict in the conference.
“This is an area that will bring conflict and we don’t want conflict in this assembly. So, I want to move a motion that the language of gender be amended.
“It is either we say `he/she’ or `him/her’ or we adopt “it’’ for neutral. Since we (men and women) are not `it’, then let us use “he/she”.
Anenih then moved a motion for the use of “he/she” in the procedures rules and was seconded by a male delegate, Mameed Aminu, representing the Civil Society without a counter motion.
NAN reports that the delegates, however, agreed that wherever “he” appears in the procedure rules, it should now read “he or she’’.