There has been renewed efforts in the last few years being raised by government agencies, civil society organizations and global organizations to protect the rights of women in Nigeria. Even the female wing of political parties are taking such very seriously and demanding a fair share from the government. Recently, APC National Women Leader, Betta Edu, expressed confidence that Tinubu would fulfill his 35-percent women inclusion in his cabinet even though he has fulfilled only about a half of his promise. The rights of women to be included in governance is being pushed globally.
Goal Five of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) aims to achieve gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls. This is to protect women and girls from sexual violence, female genital mutilation and harassment. At the same time, it is to ensure that women have equal earning potential as their male counterparts to even out the power balance. The latest in this endeavor is that the Federal Government is set to establish mobile courts to attend to issues relating to sexual harassment and female genital mutilation (FGM).
President Tinubu had granted permission to implement.
At a media roundtable in Abuja on August 31, 2023, Minister of Women Affairs, Uju Kennedy Ohanenye, announced that this decision will help to tackle violence against women and enhance their participation in governance. The Federal Ministry of Women Affairs, Global Affairs Canada, and ActionAid Nigeria collaborated with Change Managers International Network, the 100 Women Lobby Group leaders, to organize the event. According to Ohanenye, implementing a mobile court to try people mutilating the female genitals and abusing girls, including university lecturers sexually harassing female students, was significant in promoting the rights of the female gender in Nigeria.
She revealed to the press that the president had, during her conversation with him, granted her permission two days prior to address the matter. She also stated that she had a meeting with the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) on August 30, 2023. However, during the discussion, they faced several obstacles, such as determining the extent of involvement of the state governors. She maintained that the AGF said they would establish the mobile court when the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) Kayode Ariwoola returns from vacation.
How the women ministry aims to achieve such a move.
In her words, “We need a mobile court to facilitate our efforts in sensitising the public about gender-based violence, particularly Female Genital Mutilation as an offence that should not be condoned.” She told the media gathering she would attend the United Nations (UN) General Assembly to discuss the matter. According to her, paid informants would be used, and mobile courts would be used to bring cases against those responsible for FGM and other types of gender-based violence. As well, the minister argued for a 50/50 gender representation in power, saying that such a fair distribution might result in positive societal reforms.
Also speaking at the event, former Minister of Women Affairs and Social Development Josephine Anenih emphasized the need for women to strategize and overcome societal barriers to their progress in governance. One of such barriers is FGM, which comprises all procedures that involve partial or total removal of the external female genitalia, or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons. The practice has no health benefits for girls and women and causes severe bleeding and problems urinating, cysts, infections, complications in childbirth, and increased risk of newborn deaths. It is also a violation of female fundamental human rights.
Violence against women is very high in the country.
According to a UN Women survey in November 2021, 48 percent of Nigerian women have been victims of violence since the COVID-19 outbreak. According to the paper, titled “Measuring the Shadow Pandemic: Violence Against Women During COVID-19,” 45 percent of women in the research participants nations have experienced at least one kind of violence directly or indirectly. The study covered 13 nations, which are Albania, Bangladesh, Cameroon, Colombia, Côte d’Ivoire, Jordan, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Morocco, Nigeria, Paraguay, Thailand, and Ukraine. Women in Kenya (80 percent), Morocco (69 percent), Jordan (49 percent), and Nigeria (48 percent) had the highest rates of exposure to violence. Also, the National Agency for Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons and Other Related Matters (NAPTIP) had stated in the same year that more than 30 percent of girls and women in Nigeria between the ages of 15 and 49 experienced sexual abuse.