President Muhammadu Buhari Thursday in Abuja assured of more inclusion of women in governance to ensure even spread of development across the country, while reaffirming the commitment of his administration to end child marriage and boost girl-child education.
President Buhari, who received a group of Nigerian Women led by Minister of Women Affairs, Dame Pauline Tallen, at the State House, said women have a pivotal role to play in Nigeria’s development, and their participation in politics and governance must be improved, starting with the 35 percent benchmark for women’s participation as recommended in the National Gender Policy.
“I truly understand that when equity becomes the guiding principle and women hold strategic leadership positions both in government and the private sector, not only will our development be accelerated but also the diversity and richness in the quality of our policy design, engagement and execution will be improved.
“I want to reassure you that this administration remains resolute to not only meet the 35 percent National Gender Policy, but to exceed it across key decision making roles in government.’’
To further improve women’s participation in politics and decision-making, the President said it will be important that “the on-going Constitutional Review processes at all levels institutionalize accountability mechanisms and frameworks in the implementation of the National Gender Policy and the use of gender-disaggregated data for planning.
“I wish to recognize the value Nigerian women bring to our society, especially when they are supported and given a voice. This was displayed in 2015, when Nigerian Women; young and old, including my wife, Aisha Buhari took a decisive and bold step to ensure that the polls spoke in favour of the “Change Agenda” in the face of strong opposition, intimidation and what had appeared to be an impossible task. This administration is a beneficiary of the strong support of Nigerian women and I truly thank you all for the display of resilience throughout our journey.
“I am aware of the importance of the Federal Ministry of Women’s Affairs as the national machinery for the advancement of women and children in the country. This was my motivation in ensuring that the building, housing the ministry was promptly completed and I commissioned it as the first project in the year 2020 as a manifestation of this administration’s recognition of women’s crucial role in national development.’’
The President noted that his government had not reached the 35 percent benchmark for women’s participation as recommended in the National Gender Policy, but the current female appointees represent the first step in strategic intervention for the inclusion of women.
President Buhari also reaffirmed his commitment to end child marriage, boost girl-child education and ensure that mothers get educated, encouraged and empowered across the country.
“I am happy that the Federal Ministry of Women’s Affairs is working with the Federal Ministry of Education to achieve this goal. I am aware that the Federal Ministry of Women’s Affairs requires adequate and guaranteed access to funding, human and technical resources to achieve its mandate, and this is being prioritized.’’
The President expressed concern at the rising cases of rape and gender-based violence against women, particularly during the period of COVID-19 lockdown.
“I am delighted to note that Government’s zero tolerance and declaring a state of emergency regarding gender-based violence has placed Nigeria ahead in providing support for survivors and bringing perpetrators to book.
“In addition, at the global level, we will show our firm commitment to bring an end to the exponential rise of violence against women and girls, by supporting the Chair of the African Union President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa in his call for a treaty to end violence against women and girls at the African Union summit in February 2021.’’
In her remarks, the Minister of Women Affairs thanked the President for the release of finance to complete the headquarters of the ministry which was abandoned since 2013.
She also appreciated the President’s prompt response to cases of rape and gender-based violence occasioned by the lockdown, and the interventions of governments and institutions, including state governors.