IYD 2020: MAMA Centre demands socio-economic, political inclusion of young Nigerian women

NEWS DIGEST – The Mothers And Marginalised Advocacy Centre (MAMA Centre) commemorates the International Youth Day 2020 under the theme “Youth Engagement for Global Action”.

While we commend the recent development encouraging youth political participation in Nigeria, we stress the importance of inclusive participation for young women in political and socio-economic realms.

We are concerned by the lingering but deliberate unjustified policies and socio-cultural norms militating adequate and equal participation of women in both public and private spheres in Nigeria; just as we are worried over the existing glaring gender gaps in political structures and processes including low numbers of young women in political party decision making structures including their involvement in household, community and political spheres.

This includes the established disparity in employment generation and Small Scale Business schemes and other empowerment supports, which remain unfavourable and inaccessible to young women in Nigeria.

We are disturbed that despite all efforts to secure equal opportunity and development advancement for all Nigerian citizens irrespective of gender through the Gender and Equal Opportunity Bill, the legislative framework has continued to witness deliberate setback in the National Assembly. This hampers the nation’s progress in safeguarding girls’ access to education, freedom for women to participate in any economic activity and their right to freedom from violence.

We are not unaware of the emerging challenges brewed by the Covid-19 pandemic, which has rendered many young women financial incapacitated, as necessitated actions of some businesses that massively sacked, demoted and even extorted personnel mostly women of employment benefits in guise of unfair measures to ease financial impacts of Covid-19 in businesses. This is in addition to occasional abuses and harassments reportedly imposed by the pandemic on young women across the county.

We recall and reiterate the need for prompt Presidential assent into and full implementation of Sexual Harassment Bill to safeguard women and girls from years of traumatic and injury-inflicted moments were allowed to drag or go unpunished in most cases for inadequate policy response and judicial interpretation to sanction and bring perpetrator(s) to justice.

It is on this note that we applaud the ongoing development in some State Houses of Assembly for the adoption and passage of Violence Against Person Prohibition Bill and other introduced piece of legislation aimed at combating abuses and harassment of women across the states.

We call for increased priority for the young Nigerian women in the proposed measures rolled out by both Federal, State Governments, Central Bank of Nigeria and development partners to mitigate the impact of Covid-19 pandemic with significant attention to women empowerment as well as the vulnerable groups.

We call for the adoption and full implementation of Violence Against Persons Prohibition (VAPP) Act across states to adequately sanction degrading and ill-treatment that women may be undergoing as a result of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

We call for the immediate assent into the Sexual Harassment Bill as a demonstration of sincere commitment to secure health, emotional and physical well-being of women and girls in the country.

We also call for prompt passage into law, the Gender and Equal Opportunities Bill, at the Federal and State levels to domesticate the CEDAW and AU Women’s Protocol.

Signed:

Barrister Ola E. Onyegbula

Executive Director, MAMA Centre