POSITION PAPER BY VISION SPRING INITIATIVES, INTERNATIONAL CENTRE FOR ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH AND DEVELOPMENT, AND CSO PARTNERS
REPRESENTATIVES OF THE GOVERNMENT OF NIGERIA, POLICY OFFICIALS, AND ITS RELEVANT AGENCIES
COMMITMENTS TOWARDS THE ACTION COALITIONS ON THE 2026 GENERATION EQUALITY ACCELERATION PLAN
Generation Equality outlines a youth-focused global roadmap to achieve gender equality by 2026 through mobilization of governments, feminist, and youth-focused organizations, and the private sector to catalyze collective action; spark global and local conversations among generations; drive increased public and private investment, and deliver concrete progress on gender equality across generations of girls and women. Part of the global agenda is bodily autonomy and Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR), feminist action on climate change, and feminist leadership and movement. The partner organizations and other youth-focused civil society groups have reviewed the efforts of the Nigerian government, especially on actions to achieve bodily autonomy and SRHR, feminist action for climate justice, and feminist leadership and movement.
Bodily Autonomy and Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR)
The Federal Republic of Nigeria has always believed in good health for all its citizens. Though access to good health, especially for women and girls, is abysmally poor and low, efforts have been made since the COVID-19 pandemic to improve that. According to the Nigerian Demographic and Health Survey (NDHS, 2018), there are continuing high rates of maternal and perinatal morbidity and mortality, poor access to contraceptive information and services, family planning, high incidences of unsafe abortions, high rates of vesicovaginal fistula, and female genital mutilation, among other reproductive health challenges.
The recognition of bodily autonomy and access to sexual and reproductive health information and services for adolescents and young women in Nigeria is still a hard case with little influence of international policies on national policies. Conservative socio-cultural values are widespread in Nigeria, and SRHR touches on highly sensitive issues, including adolescent and young women’s access to contraceptive services and information, safe abortion, family planning services, and sexuality education. Since the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) in Cairo, initiatives to advance reproductive health in low-income countries like Nigeria have gathered momentum, putting pressure on national governments to act on these issues. There is a focus on women’s reproductive rights in the newly revised National Health Policy. This revised Policy (2017) lays emphasis on primary healthcare as the bedrock of the national health system in addition to the provision of financial risk protection to all Nigerians particularly the poor and vulnerable population (FMOH, 2018). According to the 2018 National Demographic Health Survey (NDHS), 47% of the potential demand for family planning is being met.  There is also an existing Family Life and HIV/AIDS Education (FLHE) curriculum for Junior Secondary Schools in Nigeria.
Feminist Action on Climate Change
With the country’s economic dependency on climate-sensitive and climate-impactful industries (e.g. agriculture, forestry, extraction) climate change threatens to exacerbate vulnerability to extreme weather events and limit economic growth in certain sectors. This is because women and girls are exposed to environmental degradation and all forms of abuse. A recent Oxfam report (2019)  says climate-fueled disasters are forcing an estimated 20 million people a year from their homes especially in developing countries including Nigeria. For women and girls of reproductive age, displacement—the loss of their homes, livelihoods, and normal social structure—often means access to good sexual and reproductive services and information is disrupted or non-existent. Since the launch of the National Action Plan on Gender and Climate Change (NAPGCC) in 2020, to ensure national climate change processes, initiatives, programs, and policies in Nigeria mainstreamed gender considerations, concrete actions and effective strategies have not been activated to address gender and climate change in Nigeria towards achieving the objectives of the NAPGCC. Considering the monumental impact of climate change on Nigerian women, it is critically urgent to initiate the development of an implementation strategy framework and immediate development of next steps in implementing Nigeria’s Gender Action Plan. This is considerably in line with the county’s ratification of the Paris Agreement and submission of the first Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) in 2017, and the National Adaptation Strategy and Plan of Action for Climate Change Nigeria (NASPA-CCN), which describes its adaptation priorities, bringing together existing initiatives, and priorities for future action.
Part 11 Section 2.1 of the Action Plan provides for gender and climate change, mainstreaming gender with plans to develop innovative strategies while Part 11 Section 3.0 outlines the legal framework and policy mandate that includes international and regional convention and protocols on gender and climate action.
Feminist Movement and Leadership
Feminism has been an aloof tool of political discourse and democratic action in Nigeria. Since the 19th-century, women have played significant roles to correct acts of discrimination and violence and push for an increase in meaningful political participation for women. The intervention of women in the social and political landscape helped to improve their status at the grassroots, state, and national levels. Since Nigeria became a democratic nation, the promise of equal participation in politics for women through the 35% affirmative action plan has not been realized; regional and international instruments such as the Maputo Protocol and the CEDAW that Nigeria is a signatory to have not been domesticated, laws for the protection and promotion of the rights of women and girls are not respected and injustices against women, whether cultural or religious, still abound.
There is an urgent need for a stronger response to inequality for adolescents and young women. Institutional and economic barriers to young women’s advancement put them at a disadvantage. Social and political changes are essential to accomplish Sustainable Development Goal #5 on gender equality to eradicate inequities and strengthen SRHR as well as improvements in mainstreaming gender within climate change policies and programs. This will be impossible unless young girls and women are completely empowered and harmful cultural practices like female genital mutilation and early and forced marriage are abolished, and a feminist action on climate change is adopted.
To this effect, we advocate in line with the Acceleration Actions for 2026 of the Generation Equality agenda on the following:
Bodily Autonomy and Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights
- Review the Family Life and HIV/AIDS Education (FLHE) curriculum to ensure that it responds to changing needs of adolescents and young people and conforms to the global best practices in comprehensive sexuality education design and delivery by 2026.
- Integrate FLHE into Industrial Skills Training Centers and other non-formal educational programs to cater to out-of-school adolescents and young people in all their diversities by 2026.
- Endorse access to digital platforms that provide information and services to adolescents and young persons in all of their diversity on SRHR.
- Domesticate and implement international commitments like the Maputo Protocol, CEDAW, Universal Health Coverage Declaration, and other consensus documents to ensure legal recognition of access to full SRHR services for adolescents and young women in all their diversities by 2026.
- Allocate budget for full implementation and monitoring of FLHE curriculum across states in Nigeria by 2026.
- Allocate a gender-responsive budget for primary healthcare facilities to cover youth-friendly services such as contraceptives, menstrual hygiene care, and other reproductive services for adolescents and young people in all their diversities by 2026.
Feminist Action on Climate Change.
- Government should partner with climate-action NGOs, private sector to invest in data collection on gender-environment statistics.
- Review of existing environment-related curriculum for secondary schools to adopt gender and climate change issues and information.
- The Federal Ministry of Environment should commit adequate funding for immediate and efficient coordination and implementation of the Nigerian National Action Plan on Gender and Climate Change.
- The department of Climate Change under the Federal Ministry of Environment should be adequately funded to enable a strategic action plan for climate change that would be effective as they serve as the vehicle for implementation.
- Enhance the capacity of adolescent girls and young women in all their diversity to build resilience to climate and disaster risks, mitigate climate change, and address loss and damage, including through community-based cooperative models and land rights and tenure security.
Feminist Leadership and Movement
- Increase and support the participation of young feminists in leadership and decision-making processes to ensure their meaningful and transformative inclusion.
- Acknowledge and appoint leadership portfolios to young women in all diversity in the political sector by 2026.
- Ensure the inclusion of feminists’ perspectives in the ongoing review of the 1999 Nigerian Constitution.
Vision Spring Initiatives (VSI)
International Centre for Environmental Health and Development (ICEHD)
Stand With a Girl Initiative
Centre for the Right to Health
Education as a Vaccine (EVA)
Stand To End Rape Initiative (STER)
Girl Up Nigeria
Gender Mobile Initiative
Dorothy Njemanze Foundation (DNF)
Nigerian Girl Guides Association
We Ignite Lives for Greatness Nigeria Initiative (WiLG)
Women Environmental Programme (WEP)
Child Education and Crime Eradication Foundation (CECEF)
Women and Girls Capabilities Empowerment Organization