Former First Lady of Ekiti State, Bisi Fayemi, has disclosed that Nigeria has the highest number of child brides at 22 million, which she said was the highest number in West Africa.
Fayemi disclosed this at the Women (Wfm 91.7) Conference and Award, VOW2023, with the theme: “Repositioning Women for Greater Impact” on Wednesday in Abuja.
She said Nigeria featured poorly on most global indicators measuring gender equality and women’s empowerment, adding that the nation might not meet up with most of the Sustainable Development Goals, SDGs, by 2030.
According to her, “Nigeria features poorly on most global indicators measuring Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment (GEWE). The most recent global gender gap index 2023, ranks Nigeria 130th out of 146 countries. The global gender gap index tracks economic opportunities, education, health, and political leadership.
“Nigeria has one of the highest number of child brides at 22 million, which is the highest in West Africa and 11th highest globally. Not only did Nigeria not meet any of the original Millennium Development Goals, MDGs, we might not meet most of the Sustainable Development Goals, SDGs, in 2030 either.
“If by miracle we manage to meet a few of the targets, we will not meet SDG 5 which aims to achieve gender equality by ending all forms of discrimination, violence and any harmful traditional practices against women and girls, as well as participation in decision making.
“Nigerian women are among the better educated and wealthiest women in Africa, yet this has not translated into political power. The level of representation of women in elective positions has gone down during the past four general elections, 2011, 2015, 2019 and 2023.
“Nigeria is not only one of the countries of the world with the lowest level of women’s representation in elective office but also where very little progress has been made in promoting gender equality”.
Stressing the need for more participation and inclusion of women in politics, she said, “Regardless of the platforms we occupy, we all have a role to play, starting from wherever we believe we have influence.
“We need personal commitments to social change, qualitative legal and policy frameworks that can remove oppressive patriarchal norms and values, comprehensive implementation frameworks, investments of appropriate financial, material, human and technical resources and significant political will to make all these commitments meaningful in the lives of African women.
“We also need to continue to work together in sisterhood and solidarity across borders, to leverage our experiences, and our lessons should be documented and shared consistently”.
In his remarks, the Governor of Kwara State, and Chairman of Nigeria Governors Forum, Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq, lauded women for driving change in the society through the conference, stating that interventions would be made available to highlight gender inclusiveness in Nigeria.
On her part, Vice President of Liberia, Jewel Taylor, beckoned on Nigerians to collaboration to change the dynamics of the Nigerian Women’s movement for increased participation and work to stop the biases against women’s leadership.
Also speaking, CEO, of Women Radio, Toun Okewale Sonaiya spoke about the organisation’s achievements and stressed the organisation’s commitment to be apolitical and maintain editorial independence and female-centricity.
Yusuf Oketola is a trained journalist with over five years of experience in the media industry. He has worked for both print and online medium. He is a thorough-bred professional with an eye of hindsight on issues bothering on social justice, purposeful leadership, and a society where the leaders charge and work for the prosperity of the people.