From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja

In light of International Women’s Day 2024, the Women Advocates Research and Documentation Centre (WARDC) has stressed that the day serves as a tribute to Nigerian girls, adolescents, and women who persist in various fields despite facing significant challenges.

In a statement signed by Co-Founder of WARDC, Abiola Akiyode-Afolabi, the group added that celebration highlights their contributions to business, governance, politics, sports, education, leadership, and more.

She said: “International Women’s Day affords us another opportunity to X-ray the huge gender gap in Nigeria. For a country where women make up almost 50% of the population, there is an unfortunate imbalance in access to opportunities for women.

“In Nigeria’s Senate, there are only 4 women out of 109 senators. In the House of Representatives, the situation is as dire- there are 14 women of 360 representatives. The situation is glaring. There is very poor inclusion of women in politics and governance.

“At State Assemblies, women have only 4.7% of seats overall/ 15 states in Nigeria do not have any woman in parliament. In the 2023 Women, Peace and Security (WPS) report, Nigeria ranked 162 out of 177 countries. This means that Nigeria is the 16th worst country to live in as a woman.

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“The index also showed that Nigeria is one of the 5 countries with the worst Political Violence Targeting Women. Despite the passage of the Violence Against Persons Prohibition Act (2015), Sexual and Gender based Violence has been on the increase in Nigeria, especially since the COVID-19 lockdown.

“The statistics on Gender – based Violence, which include physical, mental, economic abuse is startling. Nigeria has approximately 20 million survivors, representing 10% of survivors worldwide. Nigeria also has the 3rd highest incidence of Female Genital Mutilation worldwide. There is an urgent need to drop these numbers.

“A few days ago, gunmen abducted about 200 women and girls from Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps in Gamboru Ngala near Nigeria’s border with Cameroon and Chad. We condemned the inability of the government to protect citizens of Nigeria. With continued conflict in Nigeria, women and girls remain at the brunt of the crisis.

“Women and girls are violated and turned to sex slaved by bandits. We call on the government to immediately rise up to the occasion and end the long-standing conflicts in Nigeria. Women in and out of IDP camps must be protected from all forms of violations and inhumane treatments.

“On this International Women Day, we call on governments at all levels to uphold the constitution and protect the lives of Nigerian women. We call on the National Assembly to revisit the five gender bills to enshrine the rights of women and improve women’s representation in politics and governance.

“We call on state governors to put their monies where their mouths are. 34 states have now domesticated the VAPP Act. It is crucial to now provide budgets that cater for the inclusion of women and to implement the VAPP Act.”