Press Release On International Women’s Day 2016: LEDAP Urges The Nigerian Government To Take Action In Achieving Gender Equality

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Release Date: 8th March 2016

PRESS RELEASE ON INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY 2016: LEDAP URGES THE NIGERIAN GOVERNMENT TO TAKE ACTION IN ACHIEVING GENDER EQUALITY

Lagos, 8th March 2016 – As LEDAP commemorates International Women’s Day, which celebrates the achievements of women in all spheres of life, LEDAP reminds the Nigerian government that gender inequality remains a prevalent and significant challenge that contradicts and inhibits growth in economic, social and political domains, recognizing that gender equality is not only a fundamental human right, but a necessary foundation for a peaceful, prosperous and sustainable world. Gender discrimination, has created wide gender gaps in our countries of the world including Nigeria, with very devastating social, economic and, health consequences on the members of the female gender, who have been intensely marginalized, and subjugated to the background. The need to combat all gender inequalities in Nigeria is extremely imperative in view of the numerous devastating consequences gender discrimination has occasioned on women. Therefore, Economic empowerment of women is very imperative, if any headway is to be made in this struggle for gender equality.

LEDAP also expresses concern on violence against women (VAW) and girls which takes an array of forms and also consists of abuse. With the recent uprisings in Nigeria, LEDAP is concerned about VAW in conflict regions, where rape, abductions and sex slavery are employed as weapons of war or merely as displays of freewill, fuelled by a system rife with impunity. Women and girls are continually victims notably due to their gender and status in the society, which violates their dignity and other fundamental human rights. Furthermore, LEDAP’s attention does not stray from the situation of women who are deprived of access to land, productive, social and other services significant to their development, and lack of participation in social and political decisions which obstruct their empowerment

This year’s theme – Planet 50/50: Step It Up For Gender Equality ties in with one of LEDAP’s cardinal programmes, Women’s Human Rights, which seeks to match reforms advocacy with access to justice and respect for the rights of women. . LEDAP therefore calls on the State Government to pass the Equal Opportunities Bills in their respective states, which is a bill aimed at fostering equality between men and women in Nigeria, following the ratification of the International Human Rights Conventions by Nigeria so as to eliminate the various forms of discriminatory activities rampant in Nigeria.
The Gender Equality and Equal Opportunities Bill (GEOB) has been proposed to initiate and promote proper gender equality and equal opportunities, considering the improper implementation of the legislations codified in the acceded International Human Rights Conventions. There is an urgent and overwhelming need for a national legislation outlawing gender inequality despite Nigeria’s ratification of The Convention against Elimination and Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), Maputo Protocol, amongst others. This is because the ratified International Human Rights conventions are merely theoretical and lack proper practical applicability as they are neither enforced in national legislation nor properly imbibed into the Nigerian Legal System.

The GEOB confronts discrimination by highlighting the key deficient areas in the fight against gender inequality in Nigeria. Section 15 emphasizes Public Enlightenment, Section 16 purports the Promotion and Guarantee of Equality of all Persons and Section 19 seeks for the Elimination of Discrimination in Political and Public Life. Sections 20, 21 and 23 propose the Elimination of Discrimination in the Field of Education, the Elimination of Discrimination in the Field of Employment and Non- Discrimination on Grounds of Marital Status respectively. It is akin to this need for elimination of discrimination, and all forms of gender based violence that this Bill is formulated – to give a voice to the voiceless, and help the helpless, and close the gap between men and women in the Nigerian society.

LEDAP is not oblivious to the gross underrepresentation of women in political positions in Nigeria. In Nigeria’s National Assembly, females account for approximately 4% of the House of Representatives’ population, with 14 out of 360 members holding seats, whilst in the Lagos State House of Assembly, 4 out of the 40 members (10%) are females. Further to this observation, accurate data pertaining to gender inequality in areas of employment, education, and political participation is unavailable. As a result, it remains a challenge formulating a particular legislation that will outlaw gender inequality and discrimination within Lagos State. Therefore it is imperative for the Nigerian Government to domesticate and implement all Human Rights treaties especially the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and the Protocol to the African Charter on the Rights of Women in Africa (i.e. AU Women Protocol), Domestication of CEDAW and all other international instruments.

Finally, LEDAP uses this medium to appeal to the legislature of Nigeria to consider and see to the eventual passing of the Gender Equality and Equal Opportunities Bill. In a time when no one country has attained gender equality, Nigeria could made a strong and precedential pledge to parity as this bill has the potential to be the country’s first significant step in recent years combating gender inequality whilst empowering women and promoting their rights in all constructs. Gender is merely a means of identification not a definition or disadvantage.

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