CISLAC salutes women’s resilience, seeks innovation, technology for equality
The Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), has congratulated Nigerian women for their positive contributions towards the socioeconomic and political development of the country.
The Executive Director of the Centre, Mr Auwal Musa Rafsanjani, who spoke on the occasion of the 2023 International Women’s Day celebration, also expects the 10th National Assembly to reintroduce and pass all the gender bills that were rejected by the 9th Assembly.
He equally urged the Nigerian government at all levels to adopt collective solutions to improve sexual and reproductive health rights and pursue the achievement of 95 per cent digital literacy in Nigeria; prioritize nutrition education, workforce nutrition, food fortification and sensitization campaign towards the reduction in the consumption of salt in the country.
He said: “We are urging government at all levels to implement strategies that have the potential of reducing financial hardships caused by climate shocks with its attendant likelihood of school dropouts of girls, resulting in child marriages, teenage pregnancies, and sexual trafficking of girls and women.
“We demand the government to fully implement the Safe School Initiative to guarantee the safety of school children, especially for girl children. We also demand relevant authorities to provide enabling platforms for reporting cases of all forms of sextortion and prosecuting reported cases.
“We demand that the state governments adopt and implement the Violence Against Persons (Prohibition) Act of 2015 and that the dysfunctional and poor access to health care for women which leads to maternal mortality and malnutrition be remedied”, he said.
Rafsanjani noted that, though women have gone through exploitation, discrimination and segregation while the much-clamoured constitutional amendment that would have guaranteed gender mainstreaming and minimised gender discrimination was declined by the 9th Assembly.
“Despite the popular support canvassed during the public hearing, the Ahmed Lawal-led National Assembly leadership deprived this opportunity for women to be mainstreamed into socio-economic and political development in Nigeria.
“Similarly, the outcome of the recently concluded National Assembly elections which was meant to utilize technological innovation, across the country was a huge setback to the country’s push towards the achievement of affirmative action.
“Out of the seven female serving Senators in the 9th assembly, the result announced by INEC so far indicates that none of the female senators will be returning, and only three new female Senators have been announced so far.
“CISLAC notes with serious concerns the situation across some states where women were targeted in electoral conflict, physical and virtual intimidation as well as harassment in the cause of discharging their civic duties. This is despite the support they provide to political parties and governance in Nigeria.”
Adding: “CISLAC celebrates Mrs Jennifer Sheifagha, who despite being attacked and injured by thugs in Lagos, went back to cast her ballot after receiving treatment. CISLAC considers her action heroic, and condemn in the strongest term, acts of thuggery, and demands that the perpetrators of the dastardly act be brought to justice.
“From the earliest days of computing to the present age of virtual reality and artificial intelligence, women have made untold contributions to the digital world in which we live. Women’s accomplishments have been against all odds, in a field that has historically neither welcomed nor appreciated them.
“Unfortunately, women make up only 22 per cent of Artificial Intelligence workers globally. A global analysis of 133 Artificial Intelligence (AI) systems across industries found that 44.2 per cent demonstrate gender bias.
“In Nigeria, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) data shows that women on average makeup only 22 per cent of the total number of engineering and Technology University graduates on yearly basis, even though the IT industry often talks about inclusion and diversity, much more work needs be done with respect to technological innovation for gender equality in Nigeria.
“Today, a continuous gender gap in digital accessibility keeps women from realizing technology’s full potential. This is largely due to underrepresentation in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education and careers which form a major barrier to their participation in tech design and governance which is not unconnected to sextortion in institutions of learning and workplaces. The dominant threat of online gender-based violence coupled with a lack of legal recourse too often forces them out of the digital spaces they do occupy.”
CISLAC boss added that amidst all odds, digital technology was opening new doors for the global empowerment of women, girls and other marginalized groups.
“Nigeria however is not utilizing the opportunities that these innovations provide. From gender-responsive digital learning to tech-facilitated sexual and reproductive healthcare, the digital age represents an unprecedented opportunity to eliminate all forms of disparity and inequality.
“CISLAC is by this opportunity of this year’s commemoration of women’s day and working together with other global partners at the ongoing United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (UNCSW) 67th Session that is happening in New York, calling on governments and corporate entities to double their efforts to make the digital world safer, more inclusive and equitable.
“Facing a multiplicity of global crises, we have a chance to create a better future, not just for women and girls, but for all humanity on Earth”, he said.