.. As Coronavirus halts Nigeria’s move to address the UN on progress made towards gender equality

Child Marriages, Sanusi II

By Luminous Jannamike, Abuja

Deposed Emir of Kano, Alh. Muhammadu Sanusi II, vowed to remain staunch in challenging the social values that hamper progress towards achieving gender equality in Nigeria, saying he will continue to speak against marriage to children under the age of 18.

He stated this at the Intergenerational Dialogue on Gender equality with the theme: ‘I am generation equality; realizing women’s rights and social justice’ which held in Abuja yesterday.

According to him, the change needed to address the imbalance dogging women’s participation in national development initiatives has been slow.

So, he called on those in government to reconcile traditional values with progressive ideas in relation to the issue of women’s inclusion in society.

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Sanusi said, “Women hold the key to continuity of life, human progress and development. The progress of the nation depends on how women raise their children.

“Culturally, we love and honour mothers. Therefore, I implore everyone to embrace the noble status of women not just at the workplace but from the early beginnings of a girl child’s life.

“We must continue to dialogue and challenge the social values that continue to hamper progress in the area of gender equality. So, I will continue to advocate against child marriages under the age of 18.”

On the empowerment of women for contribution to the national economy, the former Emir, said: “I will advise more gender-specific engagements of women in sectors such as agriculture and the extractive industries.”

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Also speaking, Minister of Women Affairs and Social Development, Dame Pauline Tallen, said Nigeria would no longer address the world on the challenges and progress it has made in implementing the 1995 Beijing Conference on Gender Equality during the 64th session of the United Nation’s Commission on Status of Women, CSW, on Friday due to threats of the deadly Coronavirus COVID-19 ravaging the world.

“It’s sad that COVID-19 has come to disrupt Nigeria’s outing at the UN CSW. The general ministerial debate and the roundtables on the progress and challenges recorded since 25 years of the Beijing platform for action has been cancelled,” she said.

However, the Deputy Senate President, Ovie Omo-Agege, said Nigeria has fared badly in the election of women into parliamentary positions.

The DSP, who was represented by Otive Igbuzor, his Deputy Chief of Staff, said: “As we celebrate 25 years after Beijing Conference, real change has been very low for the majority of women. It is bad in Nigeria.

“Looking at women in parliament, globally the average is 22.8 percent as of 2016. In Uganda, it is 63.8 percent which means there are more women parliamentarians than men in that country. But in Nigeria, the average is less than six percent.”

Similarly, the United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator in Nigeria, Mr. Edward Kallon, said the country failed in the election of women into National and State legislatures in 2019, having recorded 4.7 percent for women as against 95.3 percent for men.

Kallon, however, said it was a cheery development that more women were appointed into strategic ministerial positions by President Muhammadu Buhari.

On his part, Mercy Corps’ Deputy Chief of Party (Nigeria), Mr. Sani Suleiman, said education and economic empowerment for women were necessary to drive their inclusion in national development.

“More than ever before; government, foreign donors, communities, and the civil society need to out together resources and expertise to promote women’s participation in leadership, and also ensure their protection against human rights violations,” he added.

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