Nigeria is committed to ending all forms of discrimination against women and girls, Ambassador/Permanent Representative to the UN, Prof. Tijjani Bande, said.
Bande stated this at a side event organised by the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) in New York on: “Promoting Social Security for African Women in Conflict”.
Bande, represented by Mr Alwan Abdussalam, Senior Counselor/Focal Point for Nigeria on Counter Terrorism at the United Nation, also pledged Nigeria’s commitment to end poverty and ensure prosperity for all.
According to him, however, ending poverty and ensuring prosperity for all could only be achieved if development initiatives consider the unique needs, knowledge and potentials of women and girls.
The Nigerian envoy called on governments, private sector, non-governmental organisations and development partners to recognise the vital role of women in national development.
He stressed the need to eliminate barriers to women’s participation in peace-related activities and to ensure their full inclusion during formulation and implementation of early-warning systems as well as in peace-building efforts at all levels.
He further stated the need to continue to advocate for gender equality and women’s empowerment to elevate women’s voices as well as point out the role of women in countering violent extremism and terrorism.
Mr Auwal Musa, the Executive Director of CISLAC, stated that the event was to identify the central needs required for full social security and human development, attainment of rights and empowerment for African women and especially women in conflict.
Musa stressed the need to keep the issues of women globally and regionally on the front burner of international discourse.
He noted that some countries in Africa had yet to meet the expectations of the governed in terms of implementing international and regional treaties made on behalf of women.
He challenged African countries to discard gender discrimination and misguided beliefs based on cultural and religious misinterpretations, adding that Africa must challenge ingrained beliefs that stand in the way of the socio-economic progress of the societies.
The keynote speaker, Prof. Mojúbàolú Okome of Political Science department, City University of New York, said Africa had made significant advancement in health and education but there existed gender, pay and power gaps.
Okome noted the gender disparity in credit collaterals, property ownership, and exclusion of rural poor women and systemic discrimination in access to land and natural resources.
She suggested the implementation of deliberate policies relevant to social protection, which included labour market policies and programmes, and stressed the need to have all policies with gender balance, to avoid replication of inequality.
Gender Adviser at Centre for Civilians in Conflict, Washington DC, Ms Tazreen Hussain, said women were often vulnerable and at risk of sexual exploitation and sexual predators, fuelling sexual gender-based violence.
Hussain said the organisation works in Nigeria at the national level with policymakers and lawmakers for upstream policy engagement and at state level in Borno, Nigeria.
Ms Chioma Kanu, Manager Health, Human Development and Social Inclusion, CISLAC, regretted that no less than 420,000 Nigerian children die of malnutrition-related causes yearly.
Kanu said nutrition intervention in Nigeria was mostly donor driven adding, “in the face of dwindling donor resources, this places millions of Nigerian children under the age of five at risk of death”.
She, however, noted the existence of a government partnership with donors to fund nutrition and strongly advised government to take advantage of the partnership to own the health sector in general and reduce donor dependency.