Refusal To Implement 35% Affirmative Action Worries Women

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18 months after a landmark judgement ordering the Nigerian Government to implement the 35 percent affirmative action, women in Nigeria have expressed worry that governments at various levels are refusing to obey the verdict.
According to the Nigerian Women Trust Fund, governments, at various levels, have not only failed to implement the policy by not meeting the 35% women inclusion quota, but have perpetuated systematic gender inequalities and undermined the principles of equitable representation.
Speaking in an interview, the chief executive officer, Nigerian Women Trust Fund, Brenda Anugwom, said the court judgement affirms such inequalities exist.
She therefore called on governments to take immediate action to enforce the 35 percent Affirmative Action by appointing qualified women into appointive positions.
“This decision aligns with international conventions Nigeria has ratified, such as the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and the Maputo Protocol. These international legal instruments emphasize the importance of achieving gender balance in decision-making roles as a fundamental human right,” she said.
She expressed concern that governments’ refusal to abide by a court decision has caused major reduction in women representation in appointive positions.
“Nigerian women will not stop speaking up until the government addresses these gender imbalances to ensure women are equitably represented in governance and public offices. Ignoring the federal high court’s judgement undermines the weight of a court judgement. By disregarding the court’s ruling, the government sends a message that it prioritizes its own political agenda over gender parity and the empowerment of women. This not only discourages women’s participation in politics but also erodes public trust in the government’s commitment to gender equality,” she said.
Brenda said they will collaborate with other civil society organisations, to shed light on the landmark court decision through extensive media engagement to ensure that the judgment retains visibility and forms the basis of the on-going advocacy.
“NWTF will continue engaging with the government as well because we see this as a feat which must be achieved for growth and development of the country. We hope to promote increased awareness and understanding about the importance of gender equality in Nigeria,” she said.
Brenda said it is imperative that President Tinubu re-evaluates his administration’s approach in appointing officials into his growing cabinet and takes immediate action to implement the 35% Affirmative Action.
“By neglecting this crucial provision in the gender policy, the government diminishes the potential of women to contribute their unique perspectives and expertise to public policymaking,” she added.



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