As women continue to be under-represented in governance, ActionAid Nigeria, AAN, yesterday, decried poor implementation of 35 per cent Affirmative Action in Nigeria.
Expressing displeasure over the poor treatment meted out to Nigerian women in terms of elective positions and appointments in public offices including being worst hit by current insecurity challenges in the country, Country Director, AAN, Ene Obi, during a ‘Workshop on Strengthening State Level Institutional Capacities to Enhance Women’s Meaningful Participation in Peace and Security in Nigeria’ held in Karu, Nasarawa State, said women’s voice in terms of national issues remains at the back-burning including issues, directly and indirectly, affecting them.
Obi recalled the promise made by President Muhammadu Buhari, during his campaign on giving 40 per cent appointments in his government to women, but up till now the percentage of appointments remains abysmal and frustrating.
It will be recalled that 25 years after Nigeria signed the Beijing Declaration on 35 per cent Affirmative Action on women inclusion in policymaking, election, and appointment. She said:
“Beijing conference stipulates that every government establishment must have 35 per cent women inclusion but up till this moment the Federal Government is still paying lip service, the political will is not just there.”
She maintained that women’s role in decision making and suggestions accepted and implemented makes the decision-making process more effective and productive.
However, she made it clear that it is no good or favour for men to carry women along in the decision-making process, rather should be seen as vital and essential in national development including peace talks and strategies in reducing conflicts, but if the women are kept and left behind it becomes difficult to arrive at success in handling vital and sensitive issues of insecurity currently ravaging parts of the country.
“By including women in decision making you are also improving the representation of the decision being made, and men cannot take decisions for women. “For instance, the increasing spate of maternal mortality is not well talked about, so many women are on the maternity death role when they are about to give birth”,
she stated. However, she (Obi) charged women to come together and work assiduously to achieve their aspiration and inspiration in national issues and not to be relegated to the back-burner. Also, she called them to hold the government accountable to issues affecting women and girls including the girl-child that is now an endangered species, and also should press for the domestication of declarations Nigeria is a signatory to as it concern women.
Speaking also was the Project Coordinator, Women’s Rights Programme, ActionAid Nigeria, Vivian Efem-Bassey, who lamented over women’s plight in the rising trend of insecurity across the country. Efem-Bassey further stated that women have been at the receiving end of sexual abuse, domestic violence, injustice, victimization, rape, banditry, kidnapping, insurgency, communal clashes, poverty, denial of human rights, oppression, rejections, and others.
She explained why the need to bring women to a round-table including town-hall meetings, where decisions are made and action is taken which will give them a sense of belonging.
“Nigerian government has not really been fair to women, although very few states like Kwara have made efforts. “But there is need to look into how strategic are their roles, as women we want to be able to sit at the table, we want strategic roles, don’t give us supportive role”, she said.