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Nigeria - Women's rights and empowerment of women

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Workshop on "Participation in Local Politics", conducted by the project partner AWAYW.

September 23, 2008
In Nigeria, fundamental rights of women in various areas of societal coexistence are being violated or threatened. But the situation of a given woman depends to a large extent on her ethnic group. While the role model of the successful businesswoman exists in some parts of Nigeria, the country is simultaneously dominated by an extremely traditional understanding of gender roles. Furthermore, women of all groups – particularly those in the lower income brackets – suffer similar disadvantages with respect to education, income and inheritance laws. Domestic violence and female genital mutilation are widespread.

One major influence on the rights of women is the conflict between the Muslim North and the Christian South of the country. The introduction of the Sharia in criminal and civil law of some northern states has brought issues of citizens’ and human rights to the forefront of the debate, and necessitate a careful observation of the situation of women living under Islamic law.

In the "Women’s Rights and Empowerment of Women" component of its Nigeria country program, the Heinrich Böll Foundation supports grassroots-oriented projects that strive to promote political participation by women and/or to improve their social and legal position in the face of traditional and modern forms of discrimination. In the future, projects that address primarily the policymaking level will attain more significance. These include, for example, lobbying activities and promoting consideration of the gender perspective in the constitution and the federal budget.

There are numerous connections between the women’s rights component and the other components of the country program ("Democracy and Good Governance" and "Crisis Prevention and Conflict Management"). For example, monitoring the situation of women living under Islamic law and implementing measures to protect the rights of women within the Sharia can contribute toward conflict prevention. As a contribution toward good governance which does justice to gender issues, the Foundation also funds a project of the "Centre for Democracy and Development" (CDD) on transparency of use of the budget with a gender perspective (gender budgeting).

One of the Heinrich Böll Foundation’s long-time partner organisations is "Gender and Development Action" (GADA). Since 2001, the Foundation has been providing support to a project of this NGO, whose goal is to identify topic areas for necessary constitutional reforms from the gender perspective.