POSITION PAPER BY VISION SPRING INITIATIVES, INTERNATIONAL CENTRE FOR ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH AND DEVELOPMENT AND CSO PARTNERS ON GENERATION EQUALITY ACTION COALITIONS.

Oluwatobi Ayodele engaging with representative of the Honorable Minister of Environment.

 

POSITION PAPER BY VISION SPRING INITIATIVES, INTERNATIONAL CENTRE FOR ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH AND DEVELOPMENT, AND CSO PARTNERS

 

TO

 

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.[1] 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. [2] 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) [3] 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.  

 

OUR POSITION

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. 

 

[1] https://uneca.org/sites/default/files/Gender/Beijing25/nigeria-beijing25_report.pdf

[2] https://nigeriahealthwatch.com/wp-content/uploads/bsk-pdf-manager/2019/12/NDHS-2018.pdf

[3] https://www.oxfam.org/en/research/forced-home-climate-fuelled-displacement

Signed:

Vision Spring Initiatives (VSI)

International Centre for Environmental Health and Development (ICEHD)

EcoWarriors

Stand With a Girl Initiative

Dinidari Foundation 

Elizabeth Foundation

Centre for the Right to Health

Education as a Vaccine (EVA)

Stand To End Rape Initiative (STER)

Girl Up Nigeria

Gender Mobile Initiative 

Invictus Africa

Dorothy Njemanze Foundation (DNF)

NGWomen4Peace

Nigerian Girl Guides Association

Iyeh’s Foundation

Dean Foundation

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

 

 

cross section of participants including representatives of ministries, relevant agencies, youth-focused CSOs and media.

cross section of participants including representatives of ministries, relevant agencies, youth-focused CSOs and media.

cross section of participants including representatives of ministries, relevant agencies, youth-focused CSOs and media.

25 Years After Beijing: Perspectives of Young Nigerian Women

 

 

In April 2021, Vision Spring Initiative organized a Generation Equality Writing Workshop for 12 young feminists in Nigeria. The aim was to build the capacity of young feminists on the thematic areas in the Beijing declaration and platform for action including its structural objectives and methods of contextualizing each area from a young feminist perspective.

Following the absence of funding commitments and statements of the Nigerian government at the Generation Equality Forum in Mexico and Paris, this document serves to bring to light the present realities in each of the thematic areas of concern in the Beijing Declaration and also provide intersectional and transformative recommendations to the government and relevant stakeholders. 

 

Download a copy here:  25 years after Beijing – Perspectives of young Nigerian women

CATCH UP WITH VSI #GIRLIMPACT PROJECT

Last year, Vision Spring Initiatives commenced its #GirlImpact Project. After 3 days of intensive training of 12 female volunteers on comprehensive sexuality education and other Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) issues, we partnered with two secondary schools in two local government areas in Lagos state- Kosofe and Ikorodu. The LGAs selected were from the VSI survey on identifying major areas with high teenage pregnancy and low awareness on comprehensive sexuality education. 

According to the 2018 National Demographic Health survey, the percentage of young women age 18-24 who had sexual intercourse before age 18 decreases with increasing education, from 82% among those with no education to 17% among those with more than secondary education. These figures necessitate an early intervention on the sexual and reproductive health and rights needs of young people.

Participants listening attentively during a session at De-Keepers Secondary School, Ikorodu.

The #GirlImpact project is aimed to primarily educate senior secondary schoolgirls on comprehensive sexuality education. This will enable them to make informed choices and decisions around engaging in sexual activities. The National Demographic Health Survey in 2018 also shows that 19% of women initiate sexual intercourse by age 15 and 57% by age 18. By age 20, 7 out of 10 women have had sexual intercourse. Without adequate knowledge on sexuality and provision of safe spaces and access to health services, young women and girls are left to make wrong choices which can be detrimental to their health and hindrance to continuous formal education.

 The #GirlImpact project also includes senior secondary schoolboys to create a balanced capacity building on comprehensive sexuality education. Other ancillary beneficiaries of the project are parents, teachers, and community members of the two schools’ locations. 

Participants listening attentively at Sceptre Comprehensive College, Kosofe. 

As of March 2021, the #GirlImpact project has had 32 sessions in the two schools from September 2020. Topics treated so far are Self Esteem, Introduction to Gender and Sex and Introduction to Human Rights. The students have participated in various creative activities such as poem, drawing, drama and other activities to express what they have learnt. We have also organized a celebrity guest appearance to encourage the students in the two schools. 

In March 2021, VSI celebrated International Women’s Day in the two schools where the students discussed the ways to have more women in leadership positions in every sector. The event was covered by two media houses, Television Continental (TVC) and Arise TV. 

To get weekly updates on our #GirlImpact project, follow us on Instagram and Twitter: @VSI_ng.