The Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) has called on the Nigerian government to address the systemic barriers plaguing women’s rights in the country.

The Director of the centre, Idayat Hassan, said this will ensure the desired progress of achieving Goal 5 of the Sustainable Development Goal.

This was contained in a statement issued by the centre in celebration of the 2020 International Women’s Day (IWD).

International Women’s Day is celebrated on March 8 every year and the 2020 celebration has the theme: “I am generation equality: Realising women’s rights”.

SDG 5 seeks to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.

Ms Hassan said the centre is using the occasion to reflect and celebrate the progress no matter how little it seems and push for change in the country.

Violation of Women rights

Ms Hassan said this year’s theme which coincides with 25 years post-Beijing Platform for Action calls for reflection even as multiple obstacles including gender-based violence, Female Genital Mutilation among many others continue to plague the achievement of equality in women lives.

She said it is important to address the widespread violation of women’s rights which manifests itself in physical, sexual and psychological ways.

She said these violations are largely unreported for fear of stigmatisation, shame and impunity.

Women involvement in politics

According to the statement, “over the years since Nigeria’s return to democracy in 1999, culture, weak legislation has continued to impede the progress of Nigerian women’s lives in all facets.

“In politics, women representation in the National Assembly has dipped to an all low of less than 5 per cent, a decline from the almost 7 per cent in previous National Assemblies.

“While progress has been slow, positive rays of hope exist with more women running for offices, more women excelling in entrepreneurship, STEM and the tech space in Nigeria and all over the world,”.

The centre advocates for a more dynamic approach that would tackle all forms of roadblocks women face in getting into political and appointive offices and in the long run increase the low number of women in politics.

“We advocate for 35 per cent gender quotas in the constitution and manifestoes of political parties as a mutually reinforcing strategy, there is need to identify potential women aspirants, develop their capacity to run for office and negotiate for space in politics,” Ms Hassan said.

The CDD director said it is important that support networks for women politicians such as the Women in Politics Forum are created.

“Further aligning with the United Nation’s Campaign on UN Women Intergenerational Mentorship efforts, the CDD as part of the Centre’s strategy to bridge the gap has showcased positive images and limitless opportunities available to girls and their families.

“The CDD encourages intergenerational mentorship and role models to boost aspiration, increase the numbers of ongoing women mentorship program as well as support them to aspire for non-traditional jobs both in the formal and informal sectors,” she said.

She called for strict implementation of all existing laws and policies in the country’s rule book and an end to impunity.

”As it is essential, more resources should be voted for gender-based violence work as well as data gathering in that regard, ” she said.

Moving forward

Reflecting on Nigeria’s progress since democracy and post-Beijing Platform Action, Ms Hassan said the right approach must be adopted to empower women and achieve Sustainable Development Goals.

She said while efforts in all quarters to increase female enrolment and retention in schools are appreciated, the Nigerian government and the people must improve on gender sensitivity in our education system.

“Imbibing the positive stereotypes from a young age will help address negative stereotypes from childhood, this can be done through curriculum development, gender-sensitive games, cartoons amongst others,” Ms Hassan said.

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