According to the NGOCSW 63 2019 Guidebook, nearly 5,200 Civil society members and 1,850 government delegates attended the UN commission on the Status of Women this year, making it the largest annual gathering of the international women’s movement at the UN-a time for renewal of collective purpose and action. The priority theme for CSW 63 is social protection systems, access to public services and sustainable infrastructure for gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls. According to the UN Women, social protection is a set of minimum guarantees, including basic income security for children, working-age adults, older people and people with disabilities, as well as essential health care for all.
Opening remarks at the CSW 63
H.E. Ambassador Geraldine Byrne Nason chair of CSW 63 in her opening remark said that women have been systematically marginalized, ignored and silenced in a male dominated world with a male dominated culture. She noted that patriarchal roots in Western culture help explain deep power imbalances stating that she believes that same applies to other regions of the world. She referred to a cartoon of a group of executives sitting around a conference table – all men, one lone woman. The woman has just made an important point – followed by a long pause. In the cartoon, finally, the boss pipes up and says “that’s an excellent suggestion, Ms. Triggs. Perhaps one of the men here would like to make it.” She stated that she suspects that many of the delegates would have had such experience.
Continuing her remarks she noted the need to be clear about what needs to change. As Professor Beard has written:
“If women are not perceived to be fully within the structures of power, surely it is power we need to redefine rather than women.”
She thanked all the delegates for leading change and for raising their voices from various countries and continents, stating that everyone is needed here, now and more than ever before. She further stated that our world today needs direction and she hoped that participants will help guide the way. She expressed concern that though people are more connected, yet societies are becoming more fragmented, with challenges such as climate change, insecurity, ongoing uphill battle for reproductive rights – terrible endemic sexual and gender-based violence, conflict which in her view more than ever before require global responses.
The UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres in his remark on March 12 noted that the environment is not friendly to women and girls. He said women and girls still face sexual harassment due to power relations and imbalance, According to him, victims of sexual harassment become double victims when they report violence, stating that this must stop. He commended 60 heads of states that are currently champions to end violence and harassment, stating that peace and security is critical in ending all forms of violence against women. He noted that conflict is high and also a question of power, regretting that while many countries are moving forward with regards to making legislations, some are moving backwards, incidences of hate speech, female genital mutilation still persist. Vision Spring Initiatives noted the following suggestions as the role of civil society groups:
- Strengthen ties between feminists and women’s movement within the UN.
- Build stronger intergenerational dialogue with partnerships.
- Transform the culture of inequality culture of unsustainable development and culture of violence.
- Develop statistics on violence and stereotypes and use this information to challenge the status quo.
Moving forward the following suggestions were mentioned as role of government:
- Support NGO parallel report on Beijing and CEDAW
- Develop strategies to strengthen ties between UN and critical social movement in equating SDG and peace
- Create online opportunities for feminists and women’s journalisms, arts and culture
- Bring the global to local e.g. cities for CEDAW
The following was suggested on how NGOs take action:
- Mobilise around national NGO parallel reports to present to governments
- Hold public events in Beijing and CEDAW in schools and communities
- Create intergenerational events during 2019 and 2020
Writing of parallel report by NGOs
- Need to ensure universal ratification of CEDAW and implementation
- In 2030 prioritize gender equality not only on SDG 5 but ensure budgetary allocation, adequate monitoring and establishment of specific gender machinery
- Address inequalities find solutions and have data disaggregated by sex
- Address structural inequalities and impediments, including legislations, tackle root causes of inequality and build skills for achieving equality
- Establish meaningful partnership by all and not just women
- Invest in gender equality-have it stated in national budgets laws and policies and financed by the government for change to happen.
All the deliberations agreed that change was happening incrementally, but governments need to accelerate actions for the achievements of the rights of women and girls and implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals.
Vision Spring Initiatives is currently reviewing the Concluding remarks towards partnering with strategic stakeholders.
In celebration of March 8: International Women’s Day
It is a privilege to be among great women at such a time as this! It is indeed a privilege to be a woman in this generation! A generation where women are unapologetically fighting for their freedom. A generation where women are unabashedly using their voices to break barriers. A generation where women are recognized as persons with full potentials and can make choices irrespective of archaic societal stereotypes.
Today our celebration cuts across every part of the world with voices clamouring for #BalanceforBetter! Today as we celebrate, we urge every stakeholder and every policy maker to strive for a balanced community in their respective jurisdiction.
Today, we demand a state in which women and girls in Nigeria are treated equally and command the same importance as men!
In Nigeria, we have 10.5 million out-of-school children, and 60% of the out-of-school children are girls. We need our girls in schools, not in matrimonial homes as underage girls. We need balance in our educational system.
In a world where 90% of the jobs in the next 10 years will require technology skills and knowledge, women in Nigeria make up just about 22% of the total number of Engineering and Technology University graduates each year, showing us that as women in Nigeria, we will be left behind in tomorrow’s world. We need balance in technology and science.
Female entrepreneurs are on the rise in Nigeria as they make up 41%, making it the country with the highest number of female entrepreneurs, however, only 2% have access to loans and grants from financial institutions. As women in Nigeria are making significant contributions to the surge of entrepreneurial activities and making gains for their communities and the economy at large, it is rather unfortunate that access to loans and grants from financial bodies and institutions as a female entrepreneur in Nigeria have been almost impossible. We need balance in the business development.
Women’s participation in government and access decision making position both at private and public spheres is relatively low in Nigeria, leaving women with nothing to celebrate. Women suffer many barriers which inhibits their opportunity to compete equally with men in leadership positions. Removing these barriers is no doubt difficult and would take a gradual process but for now, the need for an affirmative action is needed. Women should have a proportion or allocation of meaningful positions in various parties to enable them to have equal opportunities to compete and participate with other male candidates. We need balance in politics.
We demand a state in which men and women live in equality and have equal importance.
A balanced society is an advanced society.
A balanced country is a progressive country.
Women-Inclusion, Women-Participation, Women-Empowerment and Women-Representation should be our focus towards a balanced Nigeria and be #BalancedforBetter.
In politics, in education, in leadership positions, in technology, in every sector whatsoever, where decisions are being made, speak up, and demand a seat at the table. It is your right. #BALANCEFORBETTER #IWD2019 #WOMENSDAY
Vision Spring Initiatives was represented at the 2018, Africa’s Regional Dialogue (ARD) which focused on Advancing Gender Equality and Rights. The forum provided space for interactive exchange, knowledge transfer, mutual learning, joint strategizing and dialogue on issues that affect and impact gender equality and SRHR in Africa. Key participants to this forum were drawn from civil society networks and organisations including IPPF Member Associations, Faith Based and Youth Led organisations. Governmental and Intergovernmental Representatives, Parliamentarians, Academia, and various Bilateral and Multilaterals agencies also participated. 150 participants attended the 4 day meeting.
The Dialogue built on IPPF Africa Regions Inter-Generational Dialogue that started way back in 2012 and borrows from proven models that have worked in 15 Year Old International Dialogue on Population and Development that is hosted every year by GIZ, BMZ, IPPF, DSW, Bayer and KFW, in Berlin, Germany. The dialogue served as a platform for south-south knowledge exchange and dialogue, that enabled learning and sharing of lessons and good practices of partners advocacy strategies, providing platform for key decision makers and parliamentarians to interact and undertake informal dialogues CSOs and Youth on SRHR. It is expected that the various sessions will revitalize and increase CSO and Youth interaction with decision makers and ultimately see strengthened relations with decision makers. the program director in attendance at the Africa Regional Dialogue.
the Program Director of Vision Spring Initiative, Ngozi Nwosu-Juba, making a presentation on behalf of CSO grouops, urging them to remain focused and ensure that duty bearers are held accountable to their commitments.
Gender justice is at the core of the work of Vision Spring Initiatives. The organisation through its yearly event work with girls to understand the power they possess as equal partners with men and boys, while it helps men and boys ‘unlearn’ gender stereotypes.
Vision Spring Initiative a member of LagosWOmen2030 and Women Thrive Alliance participated at a peaceful protest to end all forms of attack, abuse and killing of women, girls and men in Nigeria.
The protest was a response to the incessant report of attacks on women, girls and men by alleged Fulani herdsmen.
The protesters visited media stations, dropping statements demanding an end to all forms of violence. The final points of visit by the protesters were Governor’s office and Lagos State House of Assembly. LagosWomen2030 are a group of Civil Society organisations monitoring and contributing to the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals in Nigeria.
As the world celebrates the International Peace Day today with the theme RIGHT TO PEACE, we at Vision Spring Initiative joins the world in celebration. Peace as abundant as it should have been is not so in Nigeria, particularly in the Northern part.
Nigeria suffers a variety of complex political problems including inequality, corruption, oil disputes, national disunity, and the Boko Haram insurgency. This eight year conflict and humanitarian crisis in the north has killed 20,000 and displaced 2.6 million people. Boko Haram mostly use women and girls as suicide bombers, forcing them to detonate bombs in urban canters. According to the UN Children’s Fund, UNICEF, 83 children were used as suicide bombers since January: 55 girls and 27 boys, one was a baby strapped to a girl. The group abducted 67 women and children in 2017. The plight of refugees fleeing the violence is also worsening with the current severe drought and impending famine across northeast Nigeria.
In May, after negotiations brokered by Switzerland and the International Committee for the Red Cross, 82 Chibok schoolgirls were released. Boko Haram fighters had abducted 276 schoolgirls from Chibok, Borno state, in April 2014. More than 100 of the girls and hundreds other captives, including over 500 children from Damasak, Borno, remained in Boko Haram captivity.
Violence has also intensified in the MiddleBelt between Fulani herdsmen and farmers amid claims of trespassing and sabotage. At the end of April 2018, President Trump met with Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari. It was a very important meeting as President Buhari was the first president from sub-Saharan Africa to visit President Trump at the White House. President Trump was reportedly very interested in the conflict between Fulani herdsmen and farmers in Nigeria’s Middle Belt.
The Niger Delta has also been the scene of serious violence. Between 2006 and 2009 a militant group named MEND protested against the poverty of the region despite the oil wealth it produced. In 2009, a general amnesty was accepted by these militants. However, in 2016, President Buhari’s 70% cut to the amnesty program prompted further unrest. Since 2016, attacks have largely been carried out by the NDA, targeting major pipelines, and provoking huge economic consequences.
Another element in Nigeria’s political status-quo is the legacy of the Biafran civil war (1967-1970) which saw the defeat of Biafran separatists by federal forces and the death of a million people. Grievances in the Igbo community were reignited in 2015 in protests by Igbo youth. The Nigerian government has since been accused of using excessive force, killing 150 protestors from August 2015-2016.
In spite of these violence and conflicts, Nigeria has remained immune to war and secession. We must therefore continue to thrive and maintain peace across the country, especially where it has been deprived for a long time.
Every human being has the RIGHT TO PEACE.
Every Local Government Area has the RIGHT TO PEACE.
Every state has the RIGHT TO PEACE.
Our country has the RIGHT TO PEACE.
We should endeavor to always advocate for peace in every sector and in all tiers of the government. The government, most especially the incoming one should be pressured in ensuring adequate budget is allocated to security and enough effort is concentrated in the Middle Belt and North. Also, the government should ensure that the perpetrators of peace are rightfully impeded.
Our children and women are not suicide bombers and sex toys. A girl child should not be deprived education. A boy child should not be taught to repress his emotions. A woman should not be controlled by laws and stereotypes. A man should not be controlled by laws and stereotypes.
Let’s rise above complex political problems including inequality, corruption, oil disputes, national disunity, gender stereotypes, religion and cultural disunity that has handicapped our progress, growth and development as a country. We have the RIGHT TO PEACE.
“An eye for an eye will only make the whole world blind.”
― Mahatma Gandhi
Vision Spring Initiative
Unsafe abortions are one of the most significant and preventable contributions of maternal mortality and morbidity in Nigeria. Research carried out by the Guttmacher Institute in partnership with the university of Ibadan, reported that 1.25 million induced abortions occurred in 2012 alone. On the other hand, evidence from a consultant OB/GYN at the University Teaching Hospital in Gwagwalada reported that unsafe abortions contribute to at least 13% of maternal deaths in the country yearly. He also reported that over 450,000 unsafe abortions were carried out yearly in Nigeria.
In the light of this discovery, vision spring initiative and the beneficiaries of its Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) training launched the #mybodymyright on the 8th of March, to commemorate the international women’s’ day celebration. We had two print media teams and one radio media present.
We had the honour of having the Chairman of Nigerian Union Journalists (NUJ), Dr. Qasim Akinreti. In his words he said womanhood is our pride. He salutes our courage and steadfastness in the pursuit of eradicating ancient laws that has handicapped our progress in the area of sexual and reproductive rights for women and girls in our country. He promised to partner with us to ensure the #mybodymyright reaches a wider range of girls and women in the country.
The press release statement was read by Imisi Johnson, one of the SRHR beneficiaries, she stated clearly the demands the campaign centres on and what is expected from the government after the campaign. Few of demands included:
- Improved access to safe SRHR services by removing legal restrictions and ensuring that services are safe and accessible to all women who need them in a timely manner.
- Address in a systematic way the various forms of abuse faced by the adolescent girl in the home and society.