By Funmi Ajumobi (New York) & Josephine Agbonkhese (Lagos)

THE United Nations has called for a more gender-sensitive approach to battling insecurity in Nigeria, advising government and stakeholders to give consideration to the negative impacts of counter-terrorism strategies on civilian populations, particularly women and girls. This is amid a heightened offensive launched against terror-sect Boko Haram by the Federal Government in recent times.

Executive Director, UN Women, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, who spoke in the light of deepening insecurity and spread of Boko Haram across the West African region with specific impacts on women and girls, said gender equality must be placed at the heart of interventions.

“Motorcycle bans, for example, have limited movement of teachers and children trying to go to school. For girls, the interruption in their education has increased their exposure to further rights violations, including child marriage and trafficking. Schools must be kept going, not only for the education they give, but for the strength, security and solidity that their routines provide to children whose world is being so profoundly disrupted,” she stressed.

A more gender-sensitive approach, according to Phumzile, is the only sustainable, systemic way to prevent and respond to the spread of violent extremism. “We must engender counter-terrorism. Recognizing that the acts committed by Boko Haram, and the strategies used to counter them are profoundly gendered.

Governments of affected States should ensure a gender sensitive approach to analysing and responding to extremist violence by ensuring effective participation of affected persons,” the UN boss said, drawing from a new report by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, OHCHR, on violations committed by Boko Haram.

The soon-to-be-released report which is in line with key findings of a 15-year review of women’s role in peace and security, provides strong evidence of the dramatic positive effect of women’s engagement on the durability and success of response to conflict and achievement of settlement.


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