Global Resources

Policy brief on gender equity and empowerment towards achieving the MDGs

Author: CISLAC
Publication Date: Jan 2012

In reaction to various international conventions and covenants on women’s equality, including the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), Nigerian governments have undertaken legislative and administrative reforms to address multiple aspects of gender inequality. Despite this, women’s progress has been painfully slow, with Nigerian women still facing enormous obstacles; women still only hold 3% representation in national government, and constitute 65% of Nigeria’s population living under the poverty line.

In 2012, the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) of Nigeria produced this policy brief on the topic of gender equity and empowerment towards achieving the MDGs. With the MDG indicators as guide, this policy brief assess the efforts put in place to reach the targets, and some of the debilitating obstacles encountered.

First, the brief outlines the systematic discrimination still apparent across a number of issues: poverty and economics; violence against women; human rights; democratic governance; and HIV/AIDS. Next, the brief examines some of the existing gender policies in place, including the National Gender Policy introduced in 2007. Each of the objectives, targets, and subsequent progress of this policy are examined, before the outcomes of the Women's Fund for Economic Empowerment are discussed.

Some challenges and opportunities are then identified, before the brief makes a number of policy recommendations:

  • There is a need to mitigate the abysmal performance of women in the outcome of the 2011 polls. It is a matter of social justice that the massive support and unprecedented participation of women in the electoral process be rewarded with appointments in critical numbers and in strategic positions
  • Gender-sensitive governance reforms are required that will make all elected officials more effective at promoting gender equality in public policy, and in ensuring their implementation.
  • More resources are needed and strategies and programmes must be targeted to women in particular if the MDG goal to reverse and halt the spread of HIV/AIDS is to be reached; gender equity and women empowerment are fundamental to reducing women's vulnerability to HIV/AIDS.
  • Gender budgeting can help countries to pinpoint policies needed to reduce gender disparities, involving the systematic examination of budget programmes and policies for their impact on women.

The brief concludes that the effect of low visibility for women, and the absence of some of the male gender champions occupying the leadership structures and operational committees of the Nigerian legislature, accounts in part for the deficit in gender sensitive law making and the huge challenge of getting germane gender laws passed – even where they are introduced and enjoy wide public support. In practical terms, the small number of female legislators, women advocates and male gender champions relative to the size of the legislature makes it difficult to advocate for the enactment of gender responsive laws or the repeal or amendment of laws that allow for the systemic violations of women's rights to dignity and opportunities.

[adapted from source]