President Muhammadu Buhari has been asked to fulfil his campaign promise of complying with the 35 percent affirmative action as part of efforts to enhance the inclusion of women the nation’s leadership.
Ene Obi, Country Director, ActionAid Nigeria, made the request in Abuja on Wednesday.
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She spoke at the Second Annual National Women Conference, a two-day event attended by participants drawn from women groups across the country.
The event, with the theme: “Women, peace and society,” Obi said is meant as an opportunity for deeper reflection on gender perspective of the rising insecurity which threatens, not just our national unity, but our individual and collective peace.
“We continue to see conflicts fought on women bodies. We have seen women used as weapons and targets of violence. The disproportionate impact of insecurity on women and girls – children cannot be ignored.
“We therefore, must act as fast as possible to stop this expanding insecurity in Nigeria. Acting requires Nigeria to operationalise, in all regions of the country, the provisions of the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325, which enjoins all states to facilitate women’s participation and leadership in peace and security, and which Nigeria committed herself to.
“Acting requires Nigeria, not to be doing this in piece meal, but to be holistic in her response. This implies ensuring that all states are prepared to domesticate and implement the action plans.
“Therefore, the time to act is now. There is no better time than now to enthrone peace. And without women and girls sitting on the table and being part of the peace processes, there will be no advancement in peace and security in the nation.
“ActionAid Nigeria is therefore, calling on all actors – state and non-state – to rethink our security architecture, and to ensure women’s inclusion in the peace processes so that this epidemic that is upon is eradicated,” Obi said.
The manager Women rights Unit of ActionAid, Nkechi Ikochi-Omekedo, urged government authorities, development partners and civil society organisations to mainstream gender perspective in conflict analysis and monitoring.
Nkechi said findings have revealed that women and girls suffered more in conflict situations which lead to deprivation that increases mortality rate and vulnerability to exploitation.
She said, “The outbreak of persistent violent conflicts and crimes such as banditry, insurgency, military, militancy, herdsmen attack, ritual killings and separatist agitations have impacted on the security and wellbeing of women in varying ways.
“Based on the findings, the study recommends among others that government authorities, development partners, and civil society organizations should mainstream gender perspectives in conflict analysis and monitoring.”
She added that women-led community-based organisations should be supported to lead and expand women’s empowerment in post-conflict communities.
Speaking at the event, the Acting High Commissioner of Canada in Nigeria, Kevin Tokar, argued that gender inequality and lack of respect for women’s rights account for growing levels of violence, conflict and instability in Nigeria.
“I am sure all of you here today would agree that finding solutions to these problems will depend on Nigeria’s ability to involve more women in decision-making processes, whether in national or state Assemblies, in the policing and justice systems, in community-level peace building and governance, and in the highest levels of the business world.”
“So much progress has already been made, thanks to your collective efforts. Yet, we know that societal changes take time. But history has shown us time and time again that once the wheels start moving — and they undoubtedly have in Nigeria — they will not stop,” Tokar said.