Gender Equality

According to international planned, Gender equality is the measurable equal representation of women and men. Gender equality does not imply that women and men are the same, but that they have equal value and should be accorded equal treatment.

According to wikipedia, Gender equality is achieved when women and men enjoy the same rights and opportunities across all sectors of society, including economic participation and decision-making, and when the different behaviours, aspirations and needs of women and men are equally valued and favoured.

DISCRIMINATION AGAINST WOMEN AND MARGINALIZATION IN NIGERIAN POLITICS

The issue of discrimination against women and marginalization are common feature shared by women in most parts of the world more especially the third world countries.

However, Nigeria women have not been left out in this struggle against discrimination against women in workplace for women’s right, which has gained a little momentum during the past two decades.

Nigeria politics is predominately politics of men, men dominates the political arena, men formulate the rules of the political game and men define the standards for evaluation. Political life is based on male norms and values and in some cases even male lifestyle. Women are marginal to national and states politics, and more generally, to the public and private life of our nation.

Women are not considered as equal partners in the homes to be allowed to make, share decisions with their male counterparts in the family. This gender discrimination against women has been extended to public life where women experience marginalization even in the electoral process according to Mcclosky, political participation implies “those voluntary activities by which members of a society share in the selections of rulers and directly or indirectly in the foundation of public policy” political participation, in this liberal tradition, reflects a condition which entails the voluntary involvement of the citizens in the choice of their leaders and in the policy formulation and implementation process of their society.

This affords the people a sense of belonging and a say in how they are governed.

Therefore, the concept of political participation either in the liberal or Marxian tradition, frowns at any attempt, whether wittingly or unwittingly to exclude any segment of the society on the basis of s ex, religion or any other socio-economic variables. Nigerian women have been involved in Nigerian politics mainly as voters, after which they retire to their kitchens with insignificant number of them appointed or elected into offices.

Notwithstanding, the drive to promote women in decision making position worldwide gathered momentum during the 1980’s and early 1990’s through a series of international conferences. The climax of it all was at the fourth women’s conference held in Beijing, china in 1995, which called for at least 30 percent representations by women in national governments. In September 2000, world leaders again at the UN millennium summit in New York adopted the goal of gender equity. As a result of this development the number of women in leadership position has been on the rise. Corroborating this, the UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, stressed that when women participate in development and in the political sector, the benefits are immediate.

Families are healthier, batter fed and better off financially. And what is true of families is also true of communities and in the long run, of whole countries. The international organizations have picked up this challenge in the struggle for liberation of women, the Nigeria government and non- government organization (NGOs) have been involved in this struggle. They have been involved in organizing conventions, seminars, and several paper presentation and summits. Some of the conventions, according to Wollstonecraft M. (1985) include;

The women’s right convention at Worcester (1980) with; Paullina W.D. of Rhode island as the vice president, Hannah M.D. and Joseph C.H. of Pennsylvania and new York respectively as the secretary.

This convention had its aims to consider rights, duties and relations of women and secondly to know the rights of the governor to the governed and the right of the governed to choose their governor. The resolutions of the convention were:

  1. Resolved that the law of property be reversed so that all right may be equal between them so that the women will have equal rights on the property acquired by both and can still acts as his hire.
  2. Resolved that political right acknowledge no gender, therefore the word male should be stricken, from every constitution.
  3. They resolved that those whose property is taxed for the support of government is entitled to direct share in such government. Resolved that women are clearly entitled to the right of suffrage before the law without discrimination against women of gender or colour.

The marginalization of women in Nigeria’s patriarchal political system has continued unabated. In the on going political system has continued unabated. In the on going political dispensation in Nigerian, available statistics reveal that women are still largely excluded from the country’s political and governance process inspite of the claims by current male political actors that they are gender sensitive. According to the origin of the state by Thomas Hobbes (Quoted in Obe E A. etal 2005) “due to the Brutish and nasty nature of man (both women), man decided to delegate its natural freedom and power to a single authority which is the state for redress”.

But man attempt to retrieve it, the state with its partial nature now, concentrate deeper structure of its male domination. The patriarchal theory, first propounded by Maine in 1861 best explains the dominance of social and political life by the male folks in the primitive society.

The patriarchal theorist argued that the state is a concentration of deeper structure of oppression exercise by men. They also maintain that to reduce the down action of state affairs by men, sexual or gender equality should be brought through incremental, reform rather than gender war. This theory seeks equal opportunity to compete with men both legally and politically. As the liberal feminist argued in (ideology and public: Nweke E N. (2004): if women have equal access to state power, it could promote justice and common good. They equally views state in positive terms seeing the state intervention as a means of redressing gender inequality and enhancing women participation in state affairs.

To achieve the gender equality, agitations moves should be established towards clearer awareness of political significant of women that will over turn the male structure of power. Although there are some biological, socio-economic, political and behavioral differences, these theorists maintain that these difference products of the society and the society has to remove these socially created differences. The feminist movements that have been formed in Nigerian has the objective of ensuring that the principle and provision of equality of rights , obligation and opportunities before the law and non-discrimination against women citizen as contained in Nigeria constitution are effectively enforced. Although all these portray the Nigerian states as no larger apathetic to women issues, the institutional environment dominated by men manifest contradictory gender policy (Aderet: 2005 quoted in peace and conflict studies in African (2006): Odoh S.I et al).

MAJOR CAUSES OF GENDER INEQUALITIES IN EBONYI STATE

EDUCATIONAL IMPEDIMENT

Backwardness of women was traced to the origin of education from the missionary into Nigeria. Before an individual can be totally liberated, the one must be educated because knowledge is power and if one does not know how to deliver himself/herself when in difficulty, one cannot make progress in life.

Education is a key material for empowerment in the society and therefore essential for women’s advancement in the area of politics (chizea and Njoku 1991). Education is another avenue were by the society has created a hurdle for women advancement in general. Female enrollment in schools has lagged behind the males and in most cases, women are enrolled in vocational courses as against politically oriented ones and this dates back to the colonial era. Nkechi Nwakwo (2009) stated “schools were rose up for training of clergymen and teachers in 1990s she quoted (Mba 1982). According to Chizea and Njoku (1991), this is so because of the fear which colonial government had for women, who despite their lack of education at that time challenged the government; they felt it was unsafe to arm them with education.

Accordingly, in mission schools in Nigeria, their emphasis in the girls education was on character training, domestic scheme and preparation for marriage. Also, the proportion of girls to boys in secondary school was 1:38 by ratio.

Very few female were getting education and even the few that had the opportunities were not trained for holding public position rather they were prepared for domestic life. As a result, women constitute a large percentage of the illiterate in Nigeria (Attoe, 2002). Consequently, education is considered a luxury for women, the girl child was often denied the right to proper or even basic education, as it is regarded as a waste of money, since she is expected to get married and stay at home with children.

In the area of access to formal schooling ‘ it is estimated that 7.3 million children of whom 60% are girls, are not in school, the drop-out rate is more pronounced at grade 6 level where more than 17% of children droop out yearly” (Obaji, UNGEI report 2005).

Currently (2009) with the intervention of the United Nation Girls Education Initiative (UNGEI), there is now an increase in the level of girls’ education. UNGEI report, reveals a 28% increase in girls education and about 80% decrease in drop out rates.

Although the situation has improved literacy difference still vary between geographical zones for example, in some areas in the northern part of Nigerian, it is still considered as a waste of time and money to send a female child to school as many of them are given off into marriage at n early age.

Every society whether traditional or modern usually design their educational system in line with their needs and to satisfy their collective aspirations. Education has been portrayed by many sociologists as to be an experience which bonders on the peoples knowledge through learning process prepares an individual for his particular society.

The environment shapes the educational content especially given that wheat a child is taught depends on the factors of his environment and the need of the people which are created by such environment. Education in 1gbo society groomed the child in its cultural and historical moorings. Education was designed with a view to meeting to the needs of a particular community. However, without education, the culture will become extinct.

This is because education is the vehicle or means by which culture is transmitted from one generation to another in nay society. Subsequently put, what differs from society to society is not education, but the type of education, purpose of education, and the peculiarity or nature of the society education seeks to serve. Education was regarded as a means to an end and not an end in itself. Therefore, education was basically for initiation into the society and preparation for adulthood and this made male children to be educated more than the female ones.

Lack of adequate education among the women folk is an obstacle that militates against their equal political participation even if they are interested in politics. Due to lack of adequate educational qualification, the participation of women in politics and in contribution to the government of the country has been minimal even in the appointive and elective positions of government. Male dominance has been the major characteristics of the political system in the country. Education is the only solution to our backwardness” which is expected in twenty years to determine a rid of our society illiteracy and equip them for the challenge ahead (Dr. Sam O. Egwu, at the commissioning of Ebonyi Women Development Centre in 2002).

Inadequate educational qualification according to Chizea and Njoku (1991) opportunities for wage labour are fewer for women, and even available women with equivalent education and work experience tend to earn lower wages and advance slower than their male colleagues and this affects their financial strength in the area of politics, because politics is capital intensive, participation in politics requires substantial finances, women are often constrained in this area, thus passing a huge hindrance to their ability to participate fully,

Women’s economic standing in Nigeria cannot be compared to their male counterparts. This is because few women hold important economic positions and few are professionals. So inadequate finance which is the outcome of inadequate educational qualification, is a crucial hindrance to women’s effective participation in politics. Due to this women are mostly found at the spectator level of political participation.

However, there are problems facing women education in Nigeria, this among others include;

  1. Preference for male children, one of the first thing a mother wants to know about her daughters prospects would even be cheerfully scarified to pay for an expensive education of the sons.
  2. Another major factors is early marriage, women regards marriage as the most valuable thing in life, and it is seen as a priority to than. Women can easily for felt their educational career just for marriage.

iii. Another factor is closely linked with the religion or cultural belief of the people. In some societies male children are seen as being more important and valuable more than the female children, and as such male children are given preferential treatment.

French (1990) states that “girls” and young women look at marriage as a pot of gold in rainbow’s and while Moluos (1973) states that marriage and fertility have been described as women’s principle source of esteem instead of considering other things. Educational discrimination of women was seen evidently in the first university in Nigerian which is university of Ibadan in 1948, which had only three (3) female students out of the 104 students admitted that year. Although the situation has improved, going by the free and compulsory education by the state government, girls can now go to the school without discrimination against women.

Therefore, the imbalance in the political sphere of our country can be attributed to inadequate educational qualifications and lack of enough qualified females for these positions.

 CULTURAL FACTOR

The marginalization and subjugation of women are as old as human species on the surface of the earth and it is a common feature shared by women all over the world. In Nigerian today women are often relegated to the background, patriarchy is the order of the day. Every culture in Nigeria defines the role of women in line with traditional norms and expectations and it is often a huge challenge to break out of this mould (Chinzea and Njoku, 1991).

As Badejo (2006) mightily argues patriarchal norms limit women’s political expressions to enter training and voting for a candidate pressed by their husbands, most likely men. Oputa (1989) opine that in-built in the myth and folklore, in the culture, tradition and in the way of life of many human communities was and still is, the subjugation of the women and children. The subjugation stretches back, all the way to the dim dawn of even pre- historic culture. The status of women has through the ages been eaves for concern in every entrée and in every clinic. In some areas of the globe, Ibid observed it has passed the stage of sympathetic concern and has entered an era of “aggression feminist”. Inspite of the subjugations, the women folk have continued to fight this ugly phenomena.

Equality is the corner stone of every democratic society, which aspires to social justice and human right. In virtually all societies and in all sphere of activity, women are subject to inequalities in law and politics. It is perpetuated by the survival of stereotype and of traditional, cultural and religious practices and beliefs detrimental to women. The convention on the elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against women (CEDAW) preamble links women’s right to human right. The preamble acknowledge that despite the United Nations various effort to promote human rights and the equality of men with women, “extensive discrimination against women continues to exist” it declares, moreover that the discrimination against women “violates the principles of equality of rights and respect for human dignity; is an obstacle to the participation of women, on equal terms with men in the political, social, and economic life of the country, hampers the growth of the prosperity of society and the family and wakes more difficult in the full development of the potentialities of women in the service of their country and of humanity”

Also in the international community, human rights treaties concluded by the United Nations and its specialized agencies entitled men and women to enjoy equally the rights they enshrine. It notes that specific instruments have been adapted to promote the principle of equality between men and women.

It further states that discriminatory practices impede the participation of women in all aspects of the life of their countries on an equal basis with men.

As expatiated abolition, the political history of Nigeria according to new vision 2nd quarter (2002), women ministry, the inside stuff; shares that there is a significant gender disparity in the appointive and elective position of government.

The Ebonyi State women like her counterpart in other society has a long history of discrimination against women and subjugation against her occasioned by strong environmental and sociological forces. Our women, despite their noble roles in the development of the society have not been treated well. They have indeed been denied equal right to basic education, politics, economic advancement, always alienated in matters of governance through discriminatory and often harmful traditional practices that have deliberately humiliated them until very recently, even in England, married women are grouped with lunatics, imbeciles and infants. They would not sue or be sued in their own name. They lead to appear through a next friend or a guardian (Ad-litem) as was recorded by Dr Ademola O. in a paper titled: women’s right, tradition and the Nigerian customary law: An overview.

According to Ankumah Evelyn (2002) women status in the ancient Athens degenerated to that of childbearing slave. Women had no education and were considered by their husbands as no better than cattle.

In legal parlance, when a women marries, the immediate change in her legal status is her name, she takes the name of her husband. Under the common law tradition, a woman seizes legally to be a person upon her marriage and without legal capacity as her personality is subsumed in her husband.

Generally as Okagbue (1996) women rights are human rights, the facts remains that the female half of humanity remains subjected to distinctive and continuous form of abuse injustice and violence as well as to enormous rouge of legal disabilities and discrimination against women simply because they are female and these practices have either been ignored or have not generally been view as violation of the human rights and freedom of women.

Against this background therefore it became imperative that women had in all culture and ages been subjected of discrimination against women politically, economically and socially in Nigeria including Ebonyi State.

According to Mrs. Adefulire (2009), “the country (Nigeria) supports a widely accepted myth that women are supposed to be seen and not heard or that their place is in the kitchen” (interview 2009). Even in the midst of educated men, these perceptions still prevail, as not many of them would allow their wives venture into areas as politics. This is a hindrance to women’s advancement in political participation in Ebonyi State. Many cultures and religion abhors that it is abominable to be under a women’s leadership while the men are there (Badmus 2006) that in line with the traditions of the land men are naturally the leader’s vehicle the women ought to be the followers or the subordinates. However, the bible, which is regarded as a read map in Christendom, does not even ameliorate the plight of women. In genesis chapter 2:18-24 “It is not good for man to be alone, I will make him an help meet for him…” the statement makes people believe, gives man an edge over the female, and makes the female a passive and a subordinate in creation not equality. Passages like the Epistle of Saint Paul to Timothy; I Timothy 2:11-15, “let the women learn in silence with all subjection, But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man…”

Today although women teach and hold various position of responsibility which gives than authority over men, despite these, the myth of “the women” as a sexual domestic functionary still persists and abides in many cultures. Therefore, in the case where politics is considered a “game for men”, even with increased educational as well as economic qualifications on the side of women, this underlying factor still affect the way women are perceived and treated, as the society have bestowed upon men such mentality that women are not supposed to be par with them. There is inherent belief that women are sub-ordinate to men and are subjected under men’s control and supervision. This ideology has spread over about 250 different ethnic groups in Nigeria and this makes women feel as lower class when they engage in the same activity with men. Another cultural barrier imposed on women active participation in politics is the “issue of indignity”. Women who are married outside their constituencies of birth (but who contest elections in their marriage constituencies) are usually regarded as non-indigenes by the people from that constituency (at least by birth). This is a worse case if the woman is married from entirely different ethnic group. Such a woman will be regarded as being over ambitious and may be prevented or discouraged. Inadequacy of willing and educated women to participate in politics, some women in Nigeria naturally subject themselves to domestic activities and the need to present broken homes.

This inevitably reduces the number of qualified and willing women for both appointive and elective positions. The men on the other hand do not encourage women they look down on them and would not even vote for a woman as a candidate. The traditional nation is that men are the heads and this notion is working through every sphere of life including the political sphere.

Ethnicity and tribalism as components of culture is another obstacle to women’s inability to fully engage in politics.

On the other hand, religion is another avenue used to promote patriarchy. The modern day Nigeria recognizes two major religions; Christianity and Islam. These religions promote certain teaching which in themselves can be ambiguous and often misinterpreted. These religious interpretations and teaching be it in the Christian or Islamic setting, at times promote conservative ideologies that undermine women’s roles in the society for examples, such teachings that suggest that a women should behave in a submissive manner is often uphold to mean that women should not be heard in public. This notion about women regulates and relegates their ideas, expertise and leadership skills to the private sphere (Kalu et al 2005). In the Northern part of Nigeria, some practices in the Islamic religion do not even allow the women to enjoy their basic constitutional right, for example “the purdah system”. This is a system that encourages women seclusion, whereby women under this law are not allowed to have contact with people outside, especially men other than their husbands, they are only allowed outside at night for a short period of time, they are not allowed to walk or be seen in public. The Sharia law, however, suppress women’s chances in political participation as its being adopted in the northern states.

However, Machiavelli stated that a good politician cannot be a true Christian, since he must kill even those who made him to climb up. Also the two major religions; Islam and Christianity in Nigeria have evolved the manifestation of hating one another because of their methods of operations. There have been religious crises in the country where they kill themselves in the name of politics or God as they fight over who takes the mantle of leadership. The Muslims has this notion, that there are born to rule, and that they must strive to be at the top no matter the situation. Therefore, culture and religion limits women participation in politics.

 FEAR OF THE UNKNOWN

Nigerians have been seen as people with low record of political awareness, majority of Nigerians are ignorant and poor. Those in power always us state power to suppress the citizens especially those who do not know their rights, even those who knows their rights are full of fears of being suppressed, humiliated and subjugated.

In Nigerian political system, the fear and respect to godfather is the sine-qua-non and prerequisite for wining election, hence they can stay at home and determine whom to be elected. Party godfatherism is a well known factor in the Nigerian political sector that poses huge challenges for women in the political parties (Odah, 2007). Party godfatherism is a situation whereby the party is unofficially under the control of a few influential individuals. Political parties in Nigeria today are in many ways a product of various influential individuals, politicians that have been around from the onset of political independence, even ex-military officials, men of timber and caliber.

Relying on their wealth, they influence the decisions that are taken within the parties, they secure party nominations for candidate of their choice sponsor their elections including manipulating the electoral process, thus creating an unfair advantage for a few to the detriment of others, usually women. (Oviasuyi 2006: Odah 2007; Akeredolu Ale interview 2009). In the face of such unfairness, women who are relatively new on the scene lack that level playing field for participation. Evidence shows that these godfathers herald patriarchy and it is a taboo for women to be at par talk more of ruling over them. This factor contributes immensely to the marginalization of women, and it inserts fear into the minds of the women.

Akpan (2009) points out that the political parties are the foundation and major agencies for the enthronement of political leaders.

According to Attoe (2002) men still dominate the party hierarchy and are at an advantage when it comes to influencing the party’s internal politics and often sidelining women.

Another fear of the unknown that hinders the women in participating fully in politics is the “step down techniques”. This is a way whereby candidates who have clearly scaled through and are eligible to contest are asked to step down for a more suitable candidate in most cases “Men”. Hon-Adefulire of the ACN party confirms that it is a major challenge for women as they are often the target in the regard (interview 2010)

The fear of the unknown as an obstacle to women participation in politics has to with the human mind and feelings about politics. There is a high level of envy and hatred among the rank and file of the women folk. Women are known for gossip and jealousy; as such they naturally feel uncomfortable to see their fellow women rise to exalted position of authority in the state. Moreover, most women psychologically regard and perceive politics as a “dirty game” and as such they sees any women into politics as an arrogant and irresponsible women (wife). So this syndrome makes women to keep away from politics with the notion of not breaking their matrimonial homes.

Dahl (1984) asserted that politics is an unavoidable fact of human existence as every one is involved in some fashion at same time in some kind of political system. Political participation is a civic duty of every citizen and a very important factor in the sense that it impels and encourages individuals to the full involvement of politics in ones given nation or state.

The definition of politics has constituted a hindrance for women to participate in Nigerian politics people in Nigeria sees politics as a powerful position to enrich oneself and it is termed “a do or die affair” and due to these, women finds it difficult to engage themselves into politics because of the violence, fraud and undue influence.

Badamus (2006: 62) notes that “male politicians even at the party level believe in political thuggery, elimination of political opponent (by any means), vote rigging, intimidation and other clandestine midnight meetings” which hold secret locations thereby making it impossible for women to be participating fully in politics.

In Nigerian politics, winner takes it all which has prompted do or die affairs in Nigerian election. The Nigerian political elites (mostly men) uses all the available reasonable forces and violence to suppress, humiliate and subjugate their political opponent so as to acquire political positions, they also involve in some other crimes such as bullying, kidnapping, killing of their political oppositions, election malpractices and rigging, distribution of sophisticated weapon to their thugs, which they normally use to intimidate and suppress the women to accept their commends. This is why Odeh (2003) described Nigeria politics as “pure madness”. The pressures and violence associated with Nigerian election which was caused by Nigerian political elites (mostly men) has remain the most paramount issue which inflects fear and also discourages most women from being active in politics wit the fear of not being killed as a politician.

The political environment and the political system posses threat and fear in the minds of the women.

Corruption is a huge issue in the Nigeria politics. Campaigns entails a lot of spending or a form of bribery often referred to as “vote buying” due to the fear of the unknown, women finds it difficult to engage themselves into politics, moreover, due to the high cost of election in Nigeria, women are afraid to participate or contest in election because most at times they may even go to the extent of borrowing money from companies, organizations or banks, and at last when they eventually fails in the election, it may lead to poverty and hardship in their livelihood. Therefore because of these unknown circumstances women finds it difficult to participate in politics actively.

The disparity between male and female political participation and appointment has created a wide political gap with the female gender at the short end.

Nigerian politics have often been described as a game for the strong hearted a dirty game where women do not easily fit in. Therefore, the fear of not losing ones life and the fear of the unknown has hindered the women in political participation.

Ways of Promoting Gender Equality in Ebonyi State

Women can and must play active role in sustainable development and poverty eradication.  When women are educated and healthy, their families, communities and countries benefit.  Yet gender-based discrimination and violence pervade almost every aspect of life, undermining the opportunities of women and denying them the ability to fully exercise their basic human rights.

Gender equality is one of the eight Millennium Development Goals as well as a human right.  Investments in gender equality can improve the lives of both men and women, with lasting benefits for the next generations.  For more than 30 years, UNFPA has been in the forefront of bringing gender issues to wider attention, promoting legal and policy reforms and gender sensitive data collection, and supporting projects that empower women economically.

Using Culturally Sensitive Approaches

UNFPA’s activities touch on the most sensitive and intimate spheres of human existence, including reproductive health and rights, gender relations and population issues.  Attitudes about these subjects vary widely between and among different cultures.

Changing deeply rooted attitudes, behaviours and laws especially those dealing with gender relations and reproductive health can be a long process that requires a culturally sensitive approach.  The Fund respects cultural diversity.  At the same time, it rejects those practices that endanger women and girls lives.  It works closely and respectfully with communities to enlist their support in upholding the human rights of all its members Protecting Human Rights

All individuals are entitled to equal rights and protection.  This idea is fundamental to UNFPA’s mission and to its way of working.

A strong emphasis on the rights of individual women and men underpins the 1994 Cairo Consensus that guides UNFPA’s work.  This emphasis on human rights at the ICPD marked a shift in population policy and programmes away from a focus on demographic targets to people’s welfare.  At that Conference, delegates from all regions and cultures agreed that reproductive health is a basic human right and that individuals should be able to freely choose the number, timing and spacing of their children.

Numerous international agreements affirm the human rights principles that underpin UNFPA’s work in reproductive health, gender equality and population and development.

Building Bridges for Women

Empowerment and Gender Equality.Creating an enabling environment for the implementation of women’s human rights through legislations and legal reforms

The GE project is working in collaboration with the Norwegian Government, UN agencies, female and male legislators and CSOs in Nigeria to achieve promulgation gender sensitive legislations and laws in Nigeria especially in the area of Gender based Violence (GBV). UNFPA  through programming funds provided by the Norwegian Government is providing substantial financial and technical support to the Legislative Coalition on Violence Against Women (LACVAW) led by Women’s Rights Advancement Protection Alternative (WRAPA) to promote advocacy for the enactment of a Violence Against Persons Prohibitions Bill (VAPP). Components of the support include the development of a compendium of media reports on GBV   and the production  and dissemination of BCC materials such as bill boards, posters, Hijabs and stickers The bill successfully passed through a second reading in November 2010. A public hearing of the Bill in planned for January 2011.

Working through CSOs at state levels, UNFPA is also providing support to the enactment of a domestic violence bill, anti-stigmatization law on HIV/AIDS, gender mainstreaming and equal opportunities bills in Benue, Ebonyi and Ogun States respectively

Working towards a more gender responsive Nigerian Police Force

UNFPA in collaboration with UNIFEM and the Nigerian Police Force (NPF) has developed a context specific Gender Policy for the Nigerian Police.  This was one of the demand outcomes of a workshop on the improving a gender sensitive response to the issues of GBV organized in November 2009.  UNFPA continues to find opportunities to broaden partnerships and discourse on gender issues to include other arms of the security and law enforcement agents. A series of workshops for law enforcement agents and judiciary is planned for 2011.

Building the capacity of national  actors through Provision of gender equality tools and training  UNFPA is supporting national gender machinery in Nigeria to develop tools that will be utilized to maximize the skills of gender officers at Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) to undertake gender mainstreaming at sector planning and budgeting level. The necessity of the tools is predicated on the Federal Executive Council’s (FEC) policy directive to MDAs to establish/appoint gender focal units/persons to promote the achievement of gender equality objectives. Building on this momentum to support the operations of these units/persons, UNFPA provided financial and technical support to the development of gender mainstreaming tools and handbook and the development of Terms of Reference to institutionalize the roles and responsibilities of gender focal persons/units. UNFPA is also continuing to build the capacity of project officers at national and state levels to mainstream gender into plans and activities of sectors.

Making a Case for Gender Responsive Budgeting
UNFPA continues to support dialogue for Gender responsive budgeting (GRB) in Nigeria. In collaboration with the FMWASD, UNFPA has developed and produced guidelines to guide the actions of gender focal persons and units to mainstream gender issues into budgets action plans of their sectors. Technical and financial support was also provided for the production of an advocacy kit on GRB.

Promoting a gender sensitive framework actions for Trafficking in Persons in Nigeria

UNFPA is contributing to the campaign to combat trafficking in persons in Nigeria through the provision of technical and financial support to the process of the development of a strategic framework of implementation for the 2008 policy on trafficking in persons in Nigeria. The planned review of the draft document is scheduled for January 2011.

Linking access to RH services and commodities to economic empowerment of women
UNFPA is bridging the gaps in access to RH commodities and services for poor women and girls through the provision of livelihoods skills training, grants and starter kits for micro-production. UNFPA in 2010 trained about 1,300 young women and girls in income generating activities to enable them command resources that will improve their ability to access reproductive health services. Categories of women trained and provided with grants and starter packs include women and girls trafficked victims, HIV/AIDS positive poor women, and GBV survivors. UNFPA also provided institutional support to 30 Women Development Centres (WDCs) with micro-credit equipment.

Improving women’s participation in governance and decision making

UNFPA is working both laterally and vertical with stakeholders and relevant agencies to promote the 35% affirmative action for women’s participation in governance and decision making. Following the support to a national summit on women in politics in Nigeria, UNFPA is working in partnership with UN agencies and CSO partners on dialoguing with political parties and INEC to increase space for women’s representation and participation in elective positions. UNFPA is also providing support to women political aspirants by championing their cases within their individual political parties to ensure that interests of women are maintained.

Contributing to Gender sensitive research and data for development planning in Nigeria

UNFPA in collaboration with the Norwegian government is contributing to the improvement of programming data on gender based violence through the support to a assessment of the root causes of GBV and GBV centres. The outcomes of the report will inform effective programming on GBV and provide a basis for future interrogative research on GBV. UNFPA is also supporting the process of further analysis of the GBV data to improve its usefulness and utilization to interpreting context specific issues of GBV to improve relevancy and specificity of GBV programming.

Creating  awareness for reduction of GBV through movies

One of the activities that commenced prior the receipt of funds was the production of the movie “Hajja”  The damaged merchandise, The movie provides vivid illustrations  of the disabling effects of VVF and how the society (opinion leaders, traditional rulers and individuals) could organize against GBV. The central message it portrays also is how women can take charge and become change elements inspite of restrictive cultural norms and practices. The airing of this movie increased knowledge, discourse and commitment to the reduction of VVF as a form of GBV using the movie. The movie was premiered in April 2009 at the Maternal Mortality Workshop with the First Lady of Federal Republic of Nigeria Hajiya Turai Umar ‘Yar Adua’a and all the wives of 36 state governors in Nigeria.

The movie “Freedom in Chains” was translated into French and disseminated at FESPACO African Film and Television Festival of Ouagadougou. The Festival panafricain du cinéma et de la télévision de Ouagadougou (FESPACO) is the largest African film festival, held biannually in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. The festival is the biggest regular cultural event on the African continent and it mostly showcases African films and African filmmakers. The festival offers African film Industry professionals an opportunity to establish working relationships, exchange ideas and to promote their work .The movie was screened at this event to educate and create awareness on Gender Based Violence (GBV). Participants appreciated the movie and demanded for copies of the movie to use for the campaign against Gender Based Violence.  Furthermore, “Freedom in Chains” was at the events of the 2009 International women’s Day with the theme “Women and Men Unite to end Violence against women and Girls”. Many civil society organizations and the public participated in event which raised awareness for GBV were in attendance during the airing of the movie. In addition, the movies was also aired at venues of UNFPA supported maternal Mortality workshop in Benue, Borno, Sokoto and Lagos states.

Strengthening institutional support for gender equality and women’s empowerment

UNFPA is creating opportunities for national actors to improve their capacity in gender mainstreaming and gender responsive budgeting. It continues to provide support for the operationalization a GE data bank and a training centre for NCWD through provision of equipment and web site support to the centre to enable the centre fulfill her role as the training and research arm of the Federal Ministry of Women Affairs. As a result, the centre has organized several trainings on gender mainstreaming and gender budgeting for development actors and NGOs targeted towards updating of knowledge on these areas.

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