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Women’s Decision-making Position and Political
Participation
Nigeria as an Antithesis of Women’s Decision-making
Position and Political Participation: the Imperative of
Human Rights-Based Approach
Presentation by
D. Tola Winjobi (PhD)
Principal Coordinator, CAFSO-WRAG for Development;
National Coordinator, Civil Society Coalition on
Sustainable Development
+234 8082008222 tola.winjobi@cscsdev.org
Women’s Decision-making Position andPolitical
Participation
“Nigeria as an Antithesis of Women’s Decision-
making Position and Political Participation: the
Imperative of Human Rights-Based Approach”
being a presentation at
The 2nd International Stakeholders Conference
on SDG 2019 organized by CSCSD in Abeokuta
Ogun State, Nigeria, West Africa October 29-31
2019
Presentation summary
• Nigeria’s Basic Profile
• Education shaping great women in
history
• Legal frameworks on women
• Human rights-based approach
• Traditional beliefs and absurdities
• Women’s dilemma of decision making
• Women’s political maginalisation
• Suggestions and recommendations
NIGERIA’S BASIC PROFILE
• Population: 201 million, Nigeria is the most populous country in
Africa and the seventh most populous in the world (Population
Reference Bureau, 2019).
• Presidential system of government, the country consists of 36 states
and a federal capital territory (Abuja) and 774 local government
areas with 109 senatorial districts, 360 federal constituencies and
990 state constituencies.
• Six geopolitical zones comprising North-central, North-eastern,
North-western, South-eastern, South-south and South-western
zones. Each zone has six states with the exception of Northwest and
Southeast with 7 and 5 states respectively.
• English is Nigeria’s official language with more than 350 ethno-
linguistic groups, yet Nigeria recognizes three major ethnicities–
Hausa-Fulani (mainly dominant in the north), Igbo (in the east) and
Yoruba (in the southwest).
NIGERIA’S BASIC PROFILE
• Three major religions are practised in Nigeria –
Traditional faiths, Islam and Christianity. The last two
imported religions are dominant in the country with
differential roles a woman can play in decision
making.
• Rivalries among ethno-religious groups have been a
source of instability since 1991. Nevertheless
questions about religion and ethnicity have not been
included in the national census whose results have
always been controversial (Library of Congress –
Federal Research Division, Country Profile: Nigeria,
July 2008).
• Education, ethnicity and religion often shape the
ideologies behind women’s decision making and
political participation.
Education, Shaping Great Women in History
One time or the other countries, such as Pakistan
had Benazir Bhutto as Prime Minister for years, while
Bangladesh, Turkey, Senegal, Mali, Northern Cyprus
all had female Prime Ministers. Indonesia had
Megawati Sukarnoputri as President, while Kosovo,
Kyrgyzstan and Mauritius all have had female
Presidents.
Perhaps the political role of women in Nigeria is
traceable in history to 16th Century Queen Amina of
Zaria whose heroic deed made her famous especially
in leading men to war. History has it that Queen
Amina conquered as far as Nupe and Kwararafa,
collected tributes from far and wide and ruled for 34
years (Palmer, 1908).
Education, Shaping Great Women in History
The trio of Mrs. Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti, Mrs. Margaret Ekpo
and Mrs Janet Mokelu’s role in pre-independence political
struggles of the 1950s second to none in wmen’s history.
Mrs Kuti : a strong advocate and campaigner for women's
rights across the country.
Mrs. Margret Ekpo the only female member of the seven-man
committee set up in 1951 to organize a national political
organization geared towards achieving self-government within
five years. She became the Vice-President of the Eastern
House of Chiefs
Mrs Janet Mokelu was also appointed along with Ekpo in 1959.
They spearheaded the 1929 Aba Women's Riots in South-
Eastern Nigeria 1929
Education, Shaping Great Women
Women who have recently played a critical role in decision making
position and excelled in their various fields of human endeavor:
Professor Bolanle Awe is known as the matriarch of feminist history
and the first female professor of history.
Prof Adetoun Ogunseye is the first Nigerian female professor while Dr
Elizabeth Abimbola Awoliyi is the first Nigerian female physician.
The first female PhD holder, Professor Grace Alele-Williams not only
distinguished herself in the field of mathematics but also in decision-
making role as she became the first female Vice Chancellor in Nigeria.
While Ambassador Adenike Ebun Oyagbola was the first female
federal minister, Chief Mrs Folake Solanke is the first Senior Advocate
of Nigeria.
Chief Mrs Anike Agbaje Williams the first female newscaster that
appeared on television in October 1959
Radical de-education of girls
Education is a potent tool of emancipation that links all those
great women.
• 14 million children out of school in Nigeria
• There is radical de-education of girls in the northeast through
the dangerous activities of the Boko Haram insurgents adopting
school girls.
• April 14 2014: adopted were over 276 girls from Government
Secondary School in Chibok, Borno State by Boko Haram.
• Same month in 2014, 58 male students of the College of
Agriculture, Buni Yadi, Yobe State were murdered in cold blood
while asleep.
• On February 19, 2018 Boko Haram attacked Government Girls
Science and Technical College, Dapchi, Yobe State and made
away with 110 girls.
Radical de-education
Educate a girl you educate a nation.
Rhetoric:
1.How will a nation that is killing her own girls make
progress?
2. How would Nigerian girls become great women of history
like those discussed above when Nigeria has been maiming
and killing them?
Specifically, Goal 4 target 1 of the SDGs ensures “that all girls
and boys complete free, equitable and quality primary and
secondary education leading to relevant and effective
learning outcomes”.
Primarily, education is the bed rock of development while
quality education is dependent upon a good learning
environment.
Legal frameworks on women’s rights
• The 1979 Convention on the Elimination of
All Forms of Discrimination against Women
(CEDAW) ratified on 13 June 1985 while efforts
to operationalise its thirty articles locally have faltered.
• The 1995 Beijing Platform of Action (35%
Affirmative Action) also adopted
• The Universal Declaration of Human Rights
• The International Covenant on Civil and
Political Rights
Legal frameworks (contd)
• The International Covenant on Economic, Social
and Cultural Rights.
• The African Charter on Human and People’s
Rights
• Protocol to the African Charter on Human and
Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa
(the Maputo Protocol)
• National Gender Policy
• Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Legal frameworks (conld)
As a signatory to all these frameworks, Nigeria has
committed itself to, among other things, promoting
affirmative action and taking other measures to ensure
that women participate equally in electoral processes.
Meanwhile, considering all the legal and international
frameworks itemized above, it is astounding that
women’s decision-making and political participation are
relegated to the micro dot in upholding and realizing
women’s rights in Nigeria. This is an antithesis of gender
equality that various organizations and individuals have
been campaigning for over the year.
GENDER AND DEVELOPMENT
MDG 3 AND SDG 5
Goal 3 of the MDGs sought to promoting gender equality and empowering
women by 2015
Goal 5 of the SDGs seeks to achieve gender equality and empower all
women and girls by 2030.
Pertinent to the issue of women empowerment is target 1 of the SDG 5 which
seeks to “end all forms of discrimination against all women and girls
everywhere”.
Target 5 ensures women’s full and effective participation and equal
opportunities for leadership at all levels of decision-making in political,
economic and public spheres of life.
As a result of inclusion of these targets in SDGs, it stands to reason that
women should enjoy equal opportunities in, for example, standing in for an
election or being involved in decision making since this is within the purview
of both the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights and other instruments which most feminists and
gender activists often quote profusely as a point of reference.
HUMAN RIGHTS BASED APPROACH
Human rights-based approach should be at the mainstream
of our governments’ plans, programmes and actions on
issues affecting women. All human rights are universal,
indivisible, interdependent and interrelated.
The full and equal enjoyment by women and girls of the
following rights should be a priority: The right to:
• Liberty and security of the person
• Equality, and to be free from all forms of discrimination
• Freedom of thought
• Information and education
• Choose whether or not to marry and to found and plan a
family
• Freedom of assembly and political participation
Reproductive & sexual RIGHTS
In addition, the following specific reproductive and
sexual rights should be a fundamental basis of all
programs and policies affecting women. They include
the right to:
• Sex education
• Access to safe and affordable contraceptives
• Confidential contraceptive counseling
• Decision on whether and when to have children
and the desired number to have including decision
to have abortion
• Health care and information about STIs and AIDS
• Sex preference of her baby.
traditional beliefs and absurdities
The dilemma of women’s decision making is encapsulated in
some traditional beliefs and absurdities which could be
summarized as follows:
• That husbands should not lend a helping hand to their
wives in the house chores.
• That husbands can fool around unmolested and with
impunity thus bringing STIs and HIV to their wives at the
latter’s perils.
• That the boy (even as the last born when the girl is even
the first born) has the right to the major portion of their
father’s property.
• That a woman cannot ascend the stool of her ancestors
(for example, as an Oba) even if she is the only one left in
the family.
traditional beliefs and absurdities
• That a widow has no access to her husband’s property
if she has no son in that family.
• That a widow can be inherited as a wife (also as a
property) by the sibling of her deceased husband even
when the woman is older or of higher status than, or
is not interested in the inheritor (sibling).
• That the husband has the right to demand sexual
intercourse even when the health of the wife is at risk.
• That men are the sole owners of the children born out
of wedlock, and that the woman cannot take the
custody of the children in case of divorce even when
the husband is at fault.
traditional beliefs and absurdities
• That no tax relief is granted a working woman (unlike a
man) for every child of hers since the man is regarded as
being responsible for taking care of the children
(financially).
• That a “stubborn” wife should be beaten by her husband.
• That a girl-child should not be given higher education
since she is going to end up in her husband’s house, and
therefore money spent on her education is a waste.
• That early marriage for girls under 14 is desirable after all,
Senator Yerima Abdulahi married an Egyptian girl of 13
years.
• That women need husbands’ permission to attend
meetings or be involved in any activity outside the home;
e.g. purdah system.
traditional beliefs and absurdities
• That women need to be home in the evenings and at
night to feed and care for their children, etc.
(reproductive role).
• That a woman needs the consent of her husband
before being issued an international passport.
• That a woman cannot stand as a surety for bail.
Unfortunately, no new law or policy has been enacted
by government to address the traditional absurdities
and the dual burdensome role which prevents women
from pursing their careers and reach management and
decision-making positions at the same pace and rate as
their male folks (SDGs Monitor, 2017 p.25).
Women’s Dilemma of Decision-making
Although advancement in education has improved
the status of women and participation in politics,
the visibility of women in decision-making is still
obscured due to socio-economic inequalities,
illiteracy, ignorance, harmful traditional practice
including gender-based violence (Carli and Eagly,
2001; McGarvey, 2009; Faiz et al., 2017).
Women’s Dilemma of Decision-making
Equal relationships between men and women in
matters of sexual relations and reproduction require
mutual respect, consent and shared responsibility.
The irony is that many women do not have the rights
to the number and spacing of their children including
the family planning options of their choice.
For example, 24.8 per cent is the proportion of
women aged 15-49 years who make their own
informed decisions regarding sexual relations,
contraceptive use and reproductive health care
(Implementation of the SDGs: A National voluntary
review, 2017).
Women’s Dilemma of Decision-making
Different forms of violence against women or gender-based
violence (VAW/GBV) affect the decision-making process of an
average woman. Women often face rape, sexual abuse, sexual
harassment and intimidation in the workplace and particularly
vulnerable to systemic violence during war. Sexual slavery, forced
pregnancy, sterilization and forced abortion, prenatal sex
selection, female infanticide, and female genital mutilation (FGM)
or circumcision, are acts of violence against women.
In Nigeria, according to national Bureau of Statistics, 24.8 percent
of girls and women aged 15-49 were reported to have undergone
genital cutting while 34.9 per cent were subjected to sexual
violence (NBS, 2015).
Violence against women impedes human rights of
women and therefore could make the realization of
SDGs impossible if not curtailed.
Women’s Dilemma of Decision-making (conld.)
In some cultures, girls cannot inherit their father’s
property as they are considered part of the very
property to be inherited. Even the rights of
girls/women to inherit property are recognized
and upheld in the Holy Writ as the landed property
(inheritance) of the daughters of Zelophehad was
secured for them (see Numbers Chapter 36: vs 6,7,
and 12). In order to respect the right of girls
(Zelophehad’s girls) to marry, Moses the Oracle of
Yahweh explicitly stated, “Let them marry to whom
they think best….” (verse 6b).
Women’s political maginalisation
The 2017 World Economic Forum Global Gender Gap
report shows a widening of the gap across all four
pillars: educational attainment, health and survival,
economic opportunity and political empowerment.
Especially the latter two pillars show the largest
gender gaps despite progress in previous years. The
report finds that it will take 100 years to close the
global gender gap overall and 217 years to achieve
economic parity between women and men. This
number is significantly larger than the 170 years the
report estimated in 2015 or even the 80 years it
predicted in 2014.
Women’s political maginalisation
Despite all the hues and cries, women in Nigeria remain
largely under-represented at most levels of government,
especially in ministerial and other executive bodies or in
reaching the target of having 35 percent of decision-
making positions as endorsed by UN ECOSOC.
This under representation has prevented women from
having a significant impact on many key institutions and
policies. In essence, it is imperative to consider the
political participation and decision making of women in
Nigeria within the parlance of human rights and the
2030 Agenda. And this, in part, is the focus of this paper.
Women’s political maginalisation (Contd)
Despite representing half the global population,
women comprise less than 20 percent of the
world’s legislators while the case is worse for
Nigerian women because women legislators are
less than 9 percent in Nigeria since 1999 (see
table 1 below) .
Table 1: Women in Nigerian Parliament Compared to the Global
Parliament
World
Ranking
HouseofRepresentatives Senate
Elections Seats Women % Elections Seats Women %
181 03.2015 360 20 5.6 03.2015 109 7 6.5
125 04.2011 360 24 6.8 04.2011 109 7 6.4
117 04.2007 360 25 7.0 04.2007 109 9 8.3
107 04.2003 360 17 4.9 04.2003 109 3 2.8
104 02.1999 360 12 3.4 02.1999 109 3 2.8
Source:Inter-ParliamentaryUnion,“WomeninNationalParliaments”
Table 2: Nigerian Women Legislators at the National Assembly between 1999 and 2015
HOUSE OF
REPRESENTATIVES SENATE OF THE FRN
Suggestions and recommendations
Strengthening women’s rights and addressing barriers
to political participation are critical steps towards
empowering women, reducing poverty and achieving
local as well as national and global developmental
goals.
Therefore the following suggestions are made:
That Nigerian governments should:
• enact comprehensive legislation on all forms of
violence against women, including domestic violence,
indicating that it constitutes a criminal offence,
ensuring that women and girls who are victims have
access to immediate redress and protection, and that
perpetrators are prosecuted and punished.
Suggestions and recommendations
• through political parties, promote women’s participation
more effectively, and should develop accountability
mechanisms and seek technical assistance, including from
civil society, to meet this objective.
• through the Independent National Electoral Commission,
conduct a focused drive on female voter registration and
run specific voter education campaigns for women during
elections.
• face headlong the menace of Boko Haram, bandits, armed
robbers and killer herdsmen who are decimating the lives
of our girls and women thus preventing them from having
a worthwhile education.
Suggestions and recommendations (contd)
It is also recommended that development partners
should:
• promote good governance by giving preference to
organisations whose constitutions and policies
promote accountability and gender equity.
• provide training for female members of political
parties and parliaments and supporting the
development of women’s caucuses.
• provide skill building and leadership training for
women civil society members, women’s
organizations, and female journalists.
Suggestions and recommendations (conld)
It is recommended that CSOs/NGOs should :
• support local efforts to advocate for legal rights
that enable women to participate fully in the
political and economic life of their societies.
• clamour for improved women’s access to justice
and increasing women’s participation and
representation in the justice sector.
• lead and promote gender training and orientation
for political parties.
Conclusion
Human rights-based approach should be at the
centre of development plans and programmes while
development that is devoid of consideration for the
political participation and decision making of women
in Nigeria would be a mirage contributing nothing to
the attainment of the 2030 Agenda within the
parlance of human rights.
Achieving total human rights of women is linked to
achieving gender equality and women’s
empowerment which is intrinsically linked to
attaining SDGs.
Conclusion
We can press for the rights of women (and girls by
extension) which manifest in socio-economic and
environmental facets of life which incidentally are
the three domains of development. These three
pillars of development encapsulate educational
attainment, health and survival, economic
opportunity and political empowerment of women.
If gender right is extricated from the dimensions of
sustainable development then such a development
effort is a façade; and if development is not about
the rights of women it is nothing about them.
Thank you
D. Tola Winjobi (PhD)
Principal Coordinator, CAFSO-WRAG for
Development; National Coordinator, Civil Society
Coalition on Sustainable Development
+234 8082008222 tola.winjobi@cscsdev.org
Women elected to public office in Nigeria
1999-2011
1999 2003 2007 2011
Office Seats Women
available
Seats Women
available
Seats Women
available
Seats Women
available
President 1 0 1 0 1 0 1 0
Senate 109 3(2.8) 109 4(3.7) 109 9(8.3) 109 7(6.4)
House of
Representatives
360 7(1.9) 360 21(5.8) 360 27(7.5) 360 25(6.9)
Governor 36 0 36 0 36 0 36 0
State House of
Assembly (SHA)
990 24(2.4) 990 40(3.9) 990 57(5.8) 990 68(6.9)
SHA Committee
Chairpersons
829 18(2.2) 881 32(3.6) 887 52(5.9) 887 -
LGA Chairpersons 710 13(1.8) 774 15(1.9) 740 27(3.6) 740 -
Councillors 6368 69(1.1) 6368 267(4.2) 6368 235(3.7) 6368 -

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Women’s Decision-Making Position and Political Participation

  • 1. Women’s Decision-making Position and Political Participation Nigeria as an Antithesis of Women’s Decision-making Position and Political Participation: the Imperative of Human Rights-Based Approach Presentation by D. Tola Winjobi (PhD) Principal Coordinator, CAFSO-WRAG for Development; National Coordinator, Civil Society Coalition on Sustainable Development +234 8082008222 tola.winjobi@cscsdev.org
  • 2. Women’s Decision-making Position andPolitical Participation “Nigeria as an Antithesis of Women’s Decision- making Position and Political Participation: the Imperative of Human Rights-Based Approach” being a presentation at The 2nd International Stakeholders Conference on SDG 2019 organized by CSCSD in Abeokuta Ogun State, Nigeria, West Africa October 29-31 2019
  • 3. Presentation summary • Nigeria’s Basic Profile • Education shaping great women in history • Legal frameworks on women • Human rights-based approach • Traditional beliefs and absurdities • Women’s dilemma of decision making • Women’s political maginalisation • Suggestions and recommendations
  • 4. NIGERIA’S BASIC PROFILE • Population: 201 million, Nigeria is the most populous country in Africa and the seventh most populous in the world (Population Reference Bureau, 2019). • Presidential system of government, the country consists of 36 states and a federal capital territory (Abuja) and 774 local government areas with 109 senatorial districts, 360 federal constituencies and 990 state constituencies. • Six geopolitical zones comprising North-central, North-eastern, North-western, South-eastern, South-south and South-western zones. Each zone has six states with the exception of Northwest and Southeast with 7 and 5 states respectively. • English is Nigeria’s official language with more than 350 ethno- linguistic groups, yet Nigeria recognizes three major ethnicities– Hausa-Fulani (mainly dominant in the north), Igbo (in the east) and Yoruba (in the southwest).
  • 5. NIGERIA’S BASIC PROFILE • Three major religions are practised in Nigeria – Traditional faiths, Islam and Christianity. The last two imported religions are dominant in the country with differential roles a woman can play in decision making. • Rivalries among ethno-religious groups have been a source of instability since 1991. Nevertheless questions about religion and ethnicity have not been included in the national census whose results have always been controversial (Library of Congress – Federal Research Division, Country Profile: Nigeria, July 2008). • Education, ethnicity and religion often shape the ideologies behind women’s decision making and political participation.
  • 6. Education, Shaping Great Women in History One time or the other countries, such as Pakistan had Benazir Bhutto as Prime Minister for years, while Bangladesh, Turkey, Senegal, Mali, Northern Cyprus all had female Prime Ministers. Indonesia had Megawati Sukarnoputri as President, while Kosovo, Kyrgyzstan and Mauritius all have had female Presidents. Perhaps the political role of women in Nigeria is traceable in history to 16th Century Queen Amina of Zaria whose heroic deed made her famous especially in leading men to war. History has it that Queen Amina conquered as far as Nupe and Kwararafa, collected tributes from far and wide and ruled for 34 years (Palmer, 1908).
  • 7. Education, Shaping Great Women in History The trio of Mrs. Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti, Mrs. Margaret Ekpo and Mrs Janet Mokelu’s role in pre-independence political struggles of the 1950s second to none in wmen’s history. Mrs Kuti : a strong advocate and campaigner for women's rights across the country. Mrs. Margret Ekpo the only female member of the seven-man committee set up in 1951 to organize a national political organization geared towards achieving self-government within five years. She became the Vice-President of the Eastern House of Chiefs Mrs Janet Mokelu was also appointed along with Ekpo in 1959. They spearheaded the 1929 Aba Women's Riots in South- Eastern Nigeria 1929
  • 8. Education, Shaping Great Women Women who have recently played a critical role in decision making position and excelled in their various fields of human endeavor: Professor Bolanle Awe is known as the matriarch of feminist history and the first female professor of history. Prof Adetoun Ogunseye is the first Nigerian female professor while Dr Elizabeth Abimbola Awoliyi is the first Nigerian female physician. The first female PhD holder, Professor Grace Alele-Williams not only distinguished herself in the field of mathematics but also in decision- making role as she became the first female Vice Chancellor in Nigeria. While Ambassador Adenike Ebun Oyagbola was the first female federal minister, Chief Mrs Folake Solanke is the first Senior Advocate of Nigeria. Chief Mrs Anike Agbaje Williams the first female newscaster that appeared on television in October 1959
  • 9. Radical de-education of girls Education is a potent tool of emancipation that links all those great women. • 14 million children out of school in Nigeria • There is radical de-education of girls in the northeast through the dangerous activities of the Boko Haram insurgents adopting school girls. • April 14 2014: adopted were over 276 girls from Government Secondary School in Chibok, Borno State by Boko Haram. • Same month in 2014, 58 male students of the College of Agriculture, Buni Yadi, Yobe State were murdered in cold blood while asleep. • On February 19, 2018 Boko Haram attacked Government Girls Science and Technical College, Dapchi, Yobe State and made away with 110 girls.
  • 10. Radical de-education Educate a girl you educate a nation. Rhetoric: 1.How will a nation that is killing her own girls make progress? 2. How would Nigerian girls become great women of history like those discussed above when Nigeria has been maiming and killing them? Specifically, Goal 4 target 1 of the SDGs ensures “that all girls and boys complete free, equitable and quality primary and secondary education leading to relevant and effective learning outcomes”. Primarily, education is the bed rock of development while quality education is dependent upon a good learning environment.
  • 11. Legal frameworks on women’s rights • The 1979 Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) ratified on 13 June 1985 while efforts to operationalise its thirty articles locally have faltered. • The 1995 Beijing Platform of Action (35% Affirmative Action) also adopted • The Universal Declaration of Human Rights • The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
  • 12. Legal frameworks (contd) • The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. • The African Charter on Human and People’s Rights • Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa (the Maputo Protocol) • National Gender Policy • Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
  • 13. Legal frameworks (conld) As a signatory to all these frameworks, Nigeria has committed itself to, among other things, promoting affirmative action and taking other measures to ensure that women participate equally in electoral processes. Meanwhile, considering all the legal and international frameworks itemized above, it is astounding that women’s decision-making and political participation are relegated to the micro dot in upholding and realizing women’s rights in Nigeria. This is an antithesis of gender equality that various organizations and individuals have been campaigning for over the year.
  • 14. GENDER AND DEVELOPMENT MDG 3 AND SDG 5 Goal 3 of the MDGs sought to promoting gender equality and empowering women by 2015 Goal 5 of the SDGs seeks to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls by 2030. Pertinent to the issue of women empowerment is target 1 of the SDG 5 which seeks to “end all forms of discrimination against all women and girls everywhere”. Target 5 ensures women’s full and effective participation and equal opportunities for leadership at all levels of decision-making in political, economic and public spheres of life. As a result of inclusion of these targets in SDGs, it stands to reason that women should enjoy equal opportunities in, for example, standing in for an election or being involved in decision making since this is within the purview of both the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other instruments which most feminists and gender activists often quote profusely as a point of reference.
  • 15. HUMAN RIGHTS BASED APPROACH Human rights-based approach should be at the mainstream of our governments’ plans, programmes and actions on issues affecting women. All human rights are universal, indivisible, interdependent and interrelated. The full and equal enjoyment by women and girls of the following rights should be a priority: The right to: • Liberty and security of the person • Equality, and to be free from all forms of discrimination • Freedom of thought • Information and education • Choose whether or not to marry and to found and plan a family • Freedom of assembly and political participation
  • 16. Reproductive & sexual RIGHTS In addition, the following specific reproductive and sexual rights should be a fundamental basis of all programs and policies affecting women. They include the right to: • Sex education • Access to safe and affordable contraceptives • Confidential contraceptive counseling • Decision on whether and when to have children and the desired number to have including decision to have abortion • Health care and information about STIs and AIDS • Sex preference of her baby.
  • 17. traditional beliefs and absurdities The dilemma of women’s decision making is encapsulated in some traditional beliefs and absurdities which could be summarized as follows: • That husbands should not lend a helping hand to their wives in the house chores. • That husbands can fool around unmolested and with impunity thus bringing STIs and HIV to their wives at the latter’s perils. • That the boy (even as the last born when the girl is even the first born) has the right to the major portion of their father’s property. • That a woman cannot ascend the stool of her ancestors (for example, as an Oba) even if she is the only one left in the family.
  • 18. traditional beliefs and absurdities • That a widow has no access to her husband’s property if she has no son in that family. • That a widow can be inherited as a wife (also as a property) by the sibling of her deceased husband even when the woman is older or of higher status than, or is not interested in the inheritor (sibling). • That the husband has the right to demand sexual intercourse even when the health of the wife is at risk. • That men are the sole owners of the children born out of wedlock, and that the woman cannot take the custody of the children in case of divorce even when the husband is at fault.
  • 19. traditional beliefs and absurdities • That no tax relief is granted a working woman (unlike a man) for every child of hers since the man is regarded as being responsible for taking care of the children (financially). • That a “stubborn” wife should be beaten by her husband. • That a girl-child should not be given higher education since she is going to end up in her husband’s house, and therefore money spent on her education is a waste. • That early marriage for girls under 14 is desirable after all, Senator Yerima Abdulahi married an Egyptian girl of 13 years. • That women need husbands’ permission to attend meetings or be involved in any activity outside the home; e.g. purdah system.
  • 20. traditional beliefs and absurdities • That women need to be home in the evenings and at night to feed and care for their children, etc. (reproductive role). • That a woman needs the consent of her husband before being issued an international passport. • That a woman cannot stand as a surety for bail. Unfortunately, no new law or policy has been enacted by government to address the traditional absurdities and the dual burdensome role which prevents women from pursing their careers and reach management and decision-making positions at the same pace and rate as their male folks (SDGs Monitor, 2017 p.25).
  • 21. Women’s Dilemma of Decision-making Although advancement in education has improved the status of women and participation in politics, the visibility of women in decision-making is still obscured due to socio-economic inequalities, illiteracy, ignorance, harmful traditional practice including gender-based violence (Carli and Eagly, 2001; McGarvey, 2009; Faiz et al., 2017).
  • 22. Women’s Dilemma of Decision-making Equal relationships between men and women in matters of sexual relations and reproduction require mutual respect, consent and shared responsibility. The irony is that many women do not have the rights to the number and spacing of their children including the family planning options of their choice. For example, 24.8 per cent is the proportion of women aged 15-49 years who make their own informed decisions regarding sexual relations, contraceptive use and reproductive health care (Implementation of the SDGs: A National voluntary review, 2017).
  • 23. Women’s Dilemma of Decision-making Different forms of violence against women or gender-based violence (VAW/GBV) affect the decision-making process of an average woman. Women often face rape, sexual abuse, sexual harassment and intimidation in the workplace and particularly vulnerable to systemic violence during war. Sexual slavery, forced pregnancy, sterilization and forced abortion, prenatal sex selection, female infanticide, and female genital mutilation (FGM) or circumcision, are acts of violence against women. In Nigeria, according to national Bureau of Statistics, 24.8 percent of girls and women aged 15-49 were reported to have undergone genital cutting while 34.9 per cent were subjected to sexual violence (NBS, 2015). Violence against women impedes human rights of women and therefore could make the realization of SDGs impossible if not curtailed.
  • 24. Women’s Dilemma of Decision-making (conld.) In some cultures, girls cannot inherit their father’s property as they are considered part of the very property to be inherited. Even the rights of girls/women to inherit property are recognized and upheld in the Holy Writ as the landed property (inheritance) of the daughters of Zelophehad was secured for them (see Numbers Chapter 36: vs 6,7, and 12). In order to respect the right of girls (Zelophehad’s girls) to marry, Moses the Oracle of Yahweh explicitly stated, “Let them marry to whom they think best….” (verse 6b).
  • 25. Women’s political maginalisation The 2017 World Economic Forum Global Gender Gap report shows a widening of the gap across all four pillars: educational attainment, health and survival, economic opportunity and political empowerment. Especially the latter two pillars show the largest gender gaps despite progress in previous years. The report finds that it will take 100 years to close the global gender gap overall and 217 years to achieve economic parity between women and men. This number is significantly larger than the 170 years the report estimated in 2015 or even the 80 years it predicted in 2014.
  • 26. Women’s political maginalisation Despite all the hues and cries, women in Nigeria remain largely under-represented at most levels of government, especially in ministerial and other executive bodies or in reaching the target of having 35 percent of decision- making positions as endorsed by UN ECOSOC. This under representation has prevented women from having a significant impact on many key institutions and policies. In essence, it is imperative to consider the political participation and decision making of women in Nigeria within the parlance of human rights and the 2030 Agenda. And this, in part, is the focus of this paper.
  • 27. Women’s political maginalisation (Contd) Despite representing half the global population, women comprise less than 20 percent of the world’s legislators while the case is worse for Nigerian women because women legislators are less than 9 percent in Nigeria since 1999 (see table 1 below) .
  • 28. Table 1: Women in Nigerian Parliament Compared to the Global Parliament World Ranking HouseofRepresentatives Senate Elections Seats Women % Elections Seats Women % 181 03.2015 360 20 5.6 03.2015 109 7 6.5 125 04.2011 360 24 6.8 04.2011 109 7 6.4 117 04.2007 360 25 7.0 04.2007 109 9 8.3 107 04.2003 360 17 4.9 04.2003 109 3 2.8 104 02.1999 360 12 3.4 02.1999 109 3 2.8 Source:Inter-ParliamentaryUnion,“WomeninNationalParliaments”
  • 29. Table 2: Nigerian Women Legislators at the National Assembly between 1999 and 2015 HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES SENATE OF THE FRN
  • 30. Suggestions and recommendations Strengthening women’s rights and addressing barriers to political participation are critical steps towards empowering women, reducing poverty and achieving local as well as national and global developmental goals. Therefore the following suggestions are made: That Nigerian governments should: • enact comprehensive legislation on all forms of violence against women, including domestic violence, indicating that it constitutes a criminal offence, ensuring that women and girls who are victims have access to immediate redress and protection, and that perpetrators are prosecuted and punished.
  • 31. Suggestions and recommendations • through political parties, promote women’s participation more effectively, and should develop accountability mechanisms and seek technical assistance, including from civil society, to meet this objective. • through the Independent National Electoral Commission, conduct a focused drive on female voter registration and run specific voter education campaigns for women during elections. • face headlong the menace of Boko Haram, bandits, armed robbers and killer herdsmen who are decimating the lives of our girls and women thus preventing them from having a worthwhile education.
  • 32. Suggestions and recommendations (contd) It is also recommended that development partners should: • promote good governance by giving preference to organisations whose constitutions and policies promote accountability and gender equity. • provide training for female members of political parties and parliaments and supporting the development of women’s caucuses. • provide skill building and leadership training for women civil society members, women’s organizations, and female journalists.
  • 33. Suggestions and recommendations (conld) It is recommended that CSOs/NGOs should : • support local efforts to advocate for legal rights that enable women to participate fully in the political and economic life of their societies. • clamour for improved women’s access to justice and increasing women’s participation and representation in the justice sector. • lead and promote gender training and orientation for political parties.
  • 34. Conclusion Human rights-based approach should be at the centre of development plans and programmes while development that is devoid of consideration for the political participation and decision making of women in Nigeria would be a mirage contributing nothing to the attainment of the 2030 Agenda within the parlance of human rights. Achieving total human rights of women is linked to achieving gender equality and women’s empowerment which is intrinsically linked to attaining SDGs.
  • 35. Conclusion We can press for the rights of women (and girls by extension) which manifest in socio-economic and environmental facets of life which incidentally are the three domains of development. These three pillars of development encapsulate educational attainment, health and survival, economic opportunity and political empowerment of women. If gender right is extricated from the dimensions of sustainable development then such a development effort is a façade; and if development is not about the rights of women it is nothing about them.
  • 36. Thank you D. Tola Winjobi (PhD) Principal Coordinator, CAFSO-WRAG for Development; National Coordinator, Civil Society Coalition on Sustainable Development +234 8082008222 tola.winjobi@cscsdev.org
  • 37. Women elected to public office in Nigeria 1999-2011 1999 2003 2007 2011 Office Seats Women available Seats Women available Seats Women available Seats Women available President 1 0 1 0 1 0 1 0 Senate 109 3(2.8) 109 4(3.7) 109 9(8.3) 109 7(6.4) House of Representatives 360 7(1.9) 360 21(5.8) 360 27(7.5) 360 25(6.9) Governor 36 0 36 0 36 0 36 0 State House of Assembly (SHA) 990 24(2.4) 990 40(3.9) 990 57(5.8) 990 68(6.9) SHA Committee Chairpersons 829 18(2.2) 881 32(3.6) 887 52(5.9) 887 - LGA Chairpersons 710 13(1.8) 774 15(1.9) 740 27(3.6) 740 - Councillors 6368 69(1.1) 6368 267(4.2) 6368 235(3.7) 6368 -