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Adopt A Rights-Based Approach To Governance, Reverse Oppressive Policies for Women’s Progress, CAPPA Tells FG

On International Women’s Day 2024, Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa (CAPPA) stands in unwavering solidarity with the global movement for women’s empowerment and gender equality. This year’s theme, ‘‘Invest in Women: Accelerate Progress’’ is very much instructive and resonates deeply in Nigeria, where gender and economic injustices continue to shackle women’s development and well-being.

While trailblazing Nigerian women have defied formidable obstacles to assume leadership positions at home and abroad, the stark reality for most remains an agonizing plight. They face entrenched cultural discrimination, gender-based violence, political marginalization, and limited access to education, healthcare, and economic opportunities.Regrettably, the government’s steadfast appetite for neoliberal policies, along with the ongoing commodification of vital public services such as education, water and healthcare have only tightened the chains of oppression.

This brutal reality is laid bare in the current economic crisis – one of the most severe in recent history – precipitated by the removal of fuel subsidies without cushioning measures and the implementation of monetary policies that have catapulted the cost of living to unprecedented heights amid runawayinflation. It is no surprise, therefore, that spontaneous protests continue to erupt across the nation, as the working masses struggle to survive the crushing weight of immiseration.

In these dire circumstances, Nigerian women, who shoulder the disproportionate burden of domestic labor and family sustenance, bear the brunt of this economic trap. Caught between survival and dignity, many women are resorting to desperate measures, including the unthinkable act of suicide, as a way out of hopelessness. The prohibitive cost of cooking gas is also pushing many families back to unhealthier and environmentally damaging practices like using charcoal stoves and firewood for meal preparations.

The education sector further demonstrates the detrimental impact of these unfavourable policies on women’s progress. With the unprecedented hike in school fees across public tertiary institutions, spurred by depressing economic conditions and the government’s failure to prioritize education as a public good, many financially disadvantaged female students are dropping out of school due to their inability toafford the increasing costs of education. This situation worsens an already troubling statistic that 60 percent of out-of-school children in Nigeria are girls, with an estimated 7.6 million not attending primary and junior secondary schools, according to the United Nations Children’s Fund. Investmentin education is not only crucial for the upliftment of women but also for national development.

As we commemorate this year’s International Women’s Day and its rallying cry, “Invest in Women: Accelerate Progress,” CAPPA urges the Nigerian government to give women a fighting chance by shunning unfair and pro-privatizationpolicies that erode their rights and deepen gender inequalities. We encourage the government to prioritize gender-responsive public financing and programmes that uphold women’s access to quality public services like education, healthcare, and social protection programs.

Furthermore, we call upon the federal government to bolster public services by improving their quality, accessibility, and affordability. Given the biting hardship, we encourage the government to quickly conclude the issue of raising the national minimum wage and strengthening labour protections in both public and private work environments to support decent working conditions for women. By adopting a rights-based approach to governance, the Nigerian government can truly invest in women’s liberation and accelerate progress toward achieving gender equality.

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