Women are the most disadvantaged especially in the poorest countries. Opportunities for educational, social and economic advancement are usually markedly inferior to those of men and they often face barriers in gaining access to good education and health care for both economic and cultural reasons. This is manifest in less developed countries in lower level of education attainment for girls than boys and a lower life expectancy for women relative to men. There are indications of continuing bias against women, exhibited in the labour market where women face lower wages and fewer job opportunities, and continue to encounter discrimination in financial markets. Women also usually have fewer opportunities to participate in public decision making.
To address these anomalies, Nigerian governments, in reaction to the various International Conventions and Covenants on women have undertaken legislative and administrative reforms that would give women full access to economic and productive resources. However, women’s progress while steady has been painfully slow.
These improvements not withstanding, women in Nigeria are still faced with enormous obstacles as the growing recognition of their contributions in recent times has not translated into significantly improved access to resources or increased decision-making powers. Women still hold only 3% representation in national government and still constitute the majority of the poor and the illiterate. Women still constitute 65% of the 70% Nigerians living below the poverty line. Similarly, while males constitute 58% of Nigeria’s adult literate, females constitute 41% (UN, 2005).
As Nigeria aspires to achieve the vision 20 2020, there is a need to overhaul gender policies with a view for efficient and effective implementation plan that will empower Nigerian women, which will in turn contribute to overall national economic growth. This policy brief looks at the various policies on gender, assessing how they have fared so far, in view of inherent gaps therein and making suggestions for possible remedies.
CISLAC hopes to extend gratitude to the Federal Ministries of Women Affairs and Education for their support and encouragement during the course of writing this policy brief.
We also thank the TY Danjuma Foundation who made it financially possible for the Brief to materialize.
We appreciate the commitment of CISLAC programme staff for facilitating this policy review and thank Prof. Muhammed Tawfiq Ladan for providing the technical support for its completion. We hope that stakeholders will find its recommendations useful for improving the lot of the girl child and women education and political life of Nigeria.
Auwal Musa (Rafsanjani)
Executive Director, CISLAC