The Mothers and Marginalised Advocacy (MAMA Centre) joins the rest of the world to commemorate the International Women Day with theme #EachForEqual.
While we commend existing effort by various development partners and international community at advancing equality and social justice of women for the desired economic prosperity in Nigeria, women inclusion, especially in socio-economic and political decision making process, has continued to wallow in major legislative and policy neglect in all spheres.
We reiterate our position that gender equality is an imperative for progress on socio-economic emancipation and development in societies across the world, while calling for adequate policy attention to address the huge differences in the types of inequality faced by Nigerian women—from cultural representation, political inclusion, socio-economic capacity, education attainment to domestic burdens and child marriage.
We are not unaware that women constitute more than half of the population in most states in Nigeria, having their own right with potential, wisdom, talents and skill that they can contribute to develop the country.
We are concerned about the existing glaring gender gaps in political structures and processes including low numbers of women in political party decision making structures; limited involvement of women in household, community and political spheres; unclear rules and procedures on recruitment and conduct of primaries.
Just as we observed constant neglect and poor consideration for Affirmative Action across key elective, appointive positions in both public and private spheres in Nigeria.
We are disturbed that despite all efforts to secure equal opportunity and development advancement for all Nigerian citizens irrespective of gender through the Gender and Equal Opportunity Bill, the legislative framework has continued to witness deliberate setback in the National Assembly. This hampers the nation’s progress in safeguarding girls’ access to education, freedom for women to participate in any economic activity and their right to freedom from violence.
We further express our deep concern over the slow progress in bridging gender gap with the most recent Global Gender Gap report by World Economic Forum’s revealing that at the current rate of progress, it will take another 108 years to reach gender parity.
We are seriously perturbed by the existing disparity in women’s access to basic infrastructural services like water, combined with an expectation of household duties and limited employment opportunities especially in the rural areas, where women spend larger part of their productive time shouldering an unequal burden of gathering water and wood for their families.
We therefore, call for sincere consideration, implementation of at least 35% Affirmative Action for Women at all levels to encourage their appreciable participation and involvement of women as leaders and decision-makers in households, communities as well as public and private spheres.
We call for the increased priority for the passage and assent into the Gender and Equal Opportunity Bill by the National Assembly to demonstrate the legislature’s concern for the rights of women to equal opportunities with guaranteed appropriate measures against gender discrimination in political and public life.
We also demand increased policy focus in encouraging women participation in technological innovation, entertainment, inclusive workplaces, socio-economic and political empowerment, health education and their visibility in creativity.
Barrister Ola E. Onyegbula
Executive Director, MAMA Centre