By Josephine Agbonkhese
By all indicators of development, the government has failed in its duty to protect and promote the rights of women and girls.
This was the joint submission of leading women’s rights advocates, who gathered recently in Lagos ahead of this year’s International Women’s Day celebration.
Besides, the celebration marks the 25th anniversary of the Beijing Platform for Action, BPFA.
The Lagos event was tagged Agenda for National Validation of the CSOS Shadow Report on BPFA+25 With Focus on SRHR(Sexual & Reproductive Health Rights), organised by the Women Advocates Research & Documentation, WARDC.
Held in collaboration with BraveHeart Initiative, Women Consortium of Nigeria and the Centre for Organisational Development with support from Ipas, they scored government commitment towards the concerns of women and girls low.
Nigeria falls below 40%
In her view, Josephine Effah-Chukwuma, Executive Director, Project Alert on Violence Against Women, said a country that deliberately leaves out 50 percent of its population cannot grow.
According to her, one that is more inclusive has a better chance of growing.
Effah-Chukwuma, who recalled that all the nations that were at Beijing in 1995 promised to go back home to work on the identified 12 areas of concerns affecting women’s progress, but Nigeria fared below 30 percent.
She said: “I will score Nigeria’s implementation below 30 percent. Politically, we should not even be talking about 30 percent representation for women at this time.
“In fact, right now the representation of women in governance is less than 30 percent.
“By now, we should not be talking about the poor representation of women or a sexual epidemic.
“We have made quite a few gains though. We have broken the silence on domestic violence.
“We now have sexual assault referral centres, and also domestic violence laws which were not in existence before.
“Each one of us has a job to do. The media too has a role to play; they must learn to speak truth to power.
“Shamefully too, at this time and age, one of the top three crimes in Nigerian police stations today is the sexual abuse of children!”
Nigeria’s condition reflects how women are treated
On her part, Lady Nkiru Okoro, described the state of the Nigerian nation as a reflection of its treatment of women and girls.
Lady Nkiru is the Publisher, African Woman Nigeria, and Founder, Centre for Organisational Development.
She said: “India used to be the poverty capital of the world, but for the first time in the history of my life, Nigeria took over in 2018.
“What does that tell you? We are still a grossly poor country where over 80 million of us cannot afford a decent meal of 300 naira per day.
“For the first time in the history of our country, we have youth employment that is between 23 and 35 percent, depending on who is giving the statistics.
“Because we have not cared for our women population, it is resonating in our entire well being and that is why we are today still talking about 80 million Nigerians living in abject poverty.
“This is reinforced by the high level of insurgency, insecurity and all.
“We must understand that the 12 critical areas of concern contained in the BPFA are not mutually exclusive. Each one impacts on the other.
“They are women and poverty, education and training, women and health, women and armed conflict, and women and the economy.
“Others are women in power and decision-making, institutional mechanisms, human rights of women, women and the media, women and the environment, and the girl-child,
“For example, poverty has impacted on education, health, employment and in fact, every other thing.”