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‘Media support for Nigerian women still very unfriendly’

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Experts have noted that media support for women’s advancement in Nigeria still remains very unfriendly, especially for women in leadership and decision-making positions, urging that coordination amongst women’s groups, gender champions, and women advocates need to be strengthened more than ever.

This was revealed at a two-day national conference organised by the Nigerian Women Trust Fund (NWTF) with funding support from Ford Foundation themed, ‘25 Years Since Beijing: Accelerating Commitments in Nigeria’

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Participants from different parts of Nigeria, both physically in Abuja and virtually, came up with a communiqué at the end of the conference, aimed at accelerating commitments around the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, (BPFA).

The conference featured panel discussions, practical sessions, and sharing of experiences by veterans from the academia, civil society organisations, gender activists, some of whom participated in the Beijing Conference in 1995, Federal Ministry of Women Affairs, female politicians, and the media.

The following critical areas of the BPFA were thoroughly examined; violence against women and girls, institutional mechanisms for the advancement of women, women in power and decision making, and human rights of women; noting that corruption and lack of accountability is a bane in the achievement of all the critical areas of the BPFA, especially in political financing.

Minister for women affairs, Dame Paullen Tallen, gave the keynote address against the backdrop of 25 years since the Beijing conference took place, reiterating the progress made so far; impact of the world public health emergency around COVID–19, challenges and the need to accelerate commitments towards realizing the twelve critical areas of the BPFA as Nigeria clocks sixty. Furthermore, the conference exacerbated the issue of violence against women and girls, non-inclusion of women in the management and recovery process and the need to protect their rights.

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Participants observed that even after 25 years, BPFA’s implementation remains weak and more women need to be included in leadership and decision-making positions as the country still falls short of the minimal percentage on the inclusion of women.

“At sixty years of independence, Nigeria is yet to be a protective space for women and girls because of the extreme rise in violence against women during the lockdown resulting from the public health emergency of COVID–19,” the statement reads.

To accelerate Nigeria’s commitment in the realisation of BPFA, participants resolved and adopted that there should be collaboration and partnership between private and public sectors to fast track the realisation of the twelve critical areas of the BPFA, continuous enlightenment of women on all laws affecting their human rights, deliberate inclusion of women and girls with disabilities, stakeholders must work on strengthening existing policies and legislations by recognising institutions that promote, protect and project the rights of women.

They urged the media to educate the citizens on the dangers of a single story as well as ensure that the media does not carry images that debase women, tell the stories of women in all public sectors and give visibility to inclusion of gender in citizenship education in order to achieve cultural transformation for an inclusive and protective society.

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