The Federal Government has declared a state of emergency on gender-based violence in the country.
Minister of State for Budget and National Planning, Prince Clem Ikanade Agba, disclosed this, on Thursday, at a government-donor joint funding facility meeting on gender equality and women empowerment, in Abuja.
He said the President Buhari-led administration has decided to move against the menace, due to the urgency in the need to overcome problems associated with it.
Agba said gender-based violence and violence against women were widespread locally and globally and intrinsically linked, sharing common risk factors and similar adverse and severe consequences.
He noted that it has become a significant problem that ranges in various forms that include domestic, sexual and others form of violence in Nigeria.
The Minister said women and girls were key agents of development and change in every nation, noting that achieving gender equality and, women and girls empowerment were very vital to building fair, inclusive, prosperous, and peaceful societies.
Agba noted that despite efforts being applied towards achieving gender equality and women empowerment, significant gender disparities still exist in various sectors of the Nigerian society.
Quoting the 2021 Gender Development Index, GDI, released by the United Nations Development Programme, UNDP, the Minister said, “Nigeria ranks 156 out of 189 countries, with a GDI value of 0.744, indicating a significant gender development gap in the country.
“According to the National Bureau of Statistics, 31.4% of Nigerian women aged 15-49 have experienced physical violence since age 15, and 14.9% have experienced sexual violence.
“However, experts believe that these numbers are likely to be underreported due to the stigma attached to reporting such crimes.
“Additionally, the National Bureau of Statistics report also indicates that 51.7%, of Nigerian women are living in poverty, compared to 48.3% of men. Nigeria women face significant challenges in accessing economic opportunities.
“According to the World Bank, only 47.8% of women in Nigeria participate in the labour force, compared to 80.5% of men, indicating that the gender gap in Nigeria is wider than the global average.
“Nigeria women face significant obstacles in their pursuit of economic independence and social inclusion. Women in Nigeria are more likely to work in the informal sector, have limited access to finance, and are severely underrepresented in leadership and decision-making positions.
“Girls’ education is also still a major challenge in Nigeria, with a large percentage of out-of-school children being girls,” he said.
He told the meeting that the Buhari-led administration has made very significant progress in ensuring remarkable attention in overcoming these challenges.
He added that this accounted for the inclusion in Nigeria’s National Development Plan, NDP, 2021-2025, a strong focus on gender equality and women’s empowerment.
His words; “The plan recognises that achieving sustainable development requires the active participation of women in all aspects of society, and outlines several strategies for promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment.
“One of the key objectives of the NDP is to increase the participation of women in decision-making at all levels, including political, economic, and social spheres.”
He noted further that the NDP also recognised the importance of addressing gender-based violence and promoting women’s health and well-being.
He suggested a review of strategies by strengthening laws and policies to prevent and respond to violence against women, promoting women’s access to quality health care, and increasing awareness about gender-based violence and its impacts.
He stressed that addressing the challenges facing women in Nigeria would require concerted efforts from various stakeholders, including the government, civil society organisations, and the private sector.
“In achieving our objectives, the urgency of a gender equality and women empowerment joint intervention funding facility cannot be overstated, as the intervention will provide answers to the president’s call to action and address the national state of emergency created by violence against women and girls in Nigeria.
“The government of Nigeria, with its leadership and coordination mandate, will endeavour to work with institutions and agencies using a human rights-based approach to create safe spaces for women and the most vulnerable and to achieve equity for them.
“The project will build on past, ongoing development achievements provided by the UN-EU Spotlight Initiative, Canada Women’s Voice and Leadership Programme and other partners that have invested and been of tremendous support to Nigeria Women and girls.
“There is a greater need to continue the interventions around sexual and gender-based violence.
“The current administration is committed to ensuring that Nigeria women and girls lead and live a meaningful life.
“There is, therefore, the need for donors and partners to collaborate and support the government’s initiative on building and consolidating a women empowerment and gender equality intervention partnership to enhance the attainment of women’s development priorities.
“From our National Development Plan objectives, an estimated investment of about N108bn, which is approximately 250million USD, considering the inflation figures this month, is expected to facilitate the achievements of the results outlined in women and gender equity over a period of 4-5years.
“The Interventions will contribute significantly to Nigeria’s sustainable development and progress in various ways, including: Enhanced Social Development, Building capacity and empowering women, Improving Economic Growth, Reducing Poverty, Strengthening legal and policy frameworks, Increasing Political Participation, Improving Human Rights, Expanding the Gender Strategic Information and knowledge management framework and Building the evidence base of gender and its related issues in Nigeria through the conduct of empirical research.
“The programme will be coordinated by the Government of Nigeria, while the United Nations Development Programme, UNDP, will provide technical support and management of the funds.
“It will be implemented through a multi-sectoral approach, involving government agencies, civil society organisations, community-based organisations, and other partners.
“Regular monitoring and evaluation would be necessary to measure progress and adjust interventions as needed to achieve the desired outcomes.
“To support this effort, the government will continue to convene meetings with donors and various stakeholders, as well as leverage current and emerging collaborative efforts from governments, civil society, the private sector, and the international community to ensure that gender equality and women’s empowerment are fully integrated into their development agendas and strategies.
“This is a critical programme aimed at promoting gender equality and empowering women across the country. It seeks to address the persistent gender disparities and discrimination that continue to exist and promote women’s participation and representation in decision-making which is deteriorating rapidly.
“It is expected to improve access to quality of life of women ,education, skills training, and economic opportunities for women, enhance women’s health and wellbeing, and raise public awareness about gender equality and women’s right, create concrete livelihood pathways, promote rule of law and access to justice, so we can create a more inclusive and equitable society,” Agba noted.
He however called on all donors, partners, agencies, organisations and stakeholders to commit resources to the joint funding facility to ensure that women and girls in Nigeria were given the support and opportunities needed to thrive and contribute to the development of the country.