Omololu Ogunmade in Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday promised to exceed 35 per cent involvement of women in governance, saying the inclusion of more women in government will accelerate national development.
The president, while hosting a women group led by the Minister of Women Affairs, Mrs. Pauline Tallen, in Abuja, said his administration was committed to ending child marriage and boost girl-child education.
A statement by the president’s spokesman, Mr. Femi Adesina, quoted Buhari as saying that women have important roles to play in the overall development of Nigeria.
According to him, women’s participation in politics and governance requires improvement, with the observance of 35 per cent benchmark for women’s participation as recommended in the National Gender Policy as the starting point.
He said: “I truly understand that when equity becomes the guiding principle and women hold strategic leadership positions both in government and the private sector, not only will our development be accelerated, but also the diversity and richness in the quality of our policy design, engagement and execution will be improved.
“I want to reassure you that this administration remains resolute to not only meet the 35 per cent National Gender Policy, but to exceed it across key decision making roles in government.”
According to him, the ongoing constitutional review in the National Assembly provides yet another platform to evolve frameworks for the implementation of the National Gender Policy as well as the deployment of data for planning.
“.. The ongoing constitutional review processes at all levels institutionalise accountability mechanisms and frameworks in the implementation of the National Gender Policy and the use of gender-disaggregated data for planning,” he added.
Buhari also narrated how women, including his wife, Aisha, mobilised voters to ensure victory for him in the 2015 presidential election.
He added that “this administration is a beneficiary of the strong support of Nigerian women and I truly thank you all for the display of resilience throughout our journey.”
Buhari explained that he was also aware of the roles being played by the Federal Ministry of Women’s Affairs to advance the interests of both women and children in the country, saying such knowledge propelled his commitment to ensure the completion of the structure housing the ministry in Abuja.
“I am aware of the importance of the Federal Ministry of Women’s Affairs as the national machinery for the advancement of women and children in the country.
“This was my motivation in ensuring that the building, housing the ministry, was promptly completed and I commissioned it as the first project in the year 2020 as a manifestation of this administration’s recognition of women’s crucial role in national development,” he stated.
Buhari who admitted that his government had not attained the 35 per cent benchmark for women’s participation in governance as recommended in the National Gender Policy, added that the number of the current female appointees in the government represents the first step in strategic intervention for the inclusion of women.
The president reaffirmed his commitment to end child marriage and boost girl-child education and empower women across the country.
He also expressed concern about the rising cases of rape and violence against women, particularly during the period of COVID-19 lockdown.
He said the federal government’s prompt intervention in the menace and its commitment to bring perpetrators of book, underscored its zero tolerance to the scourge.
“I am delighted to note that government’s zero tolerance and declaring a state of emergency regarding gender-based violence has placed Nigeria ahead in providing support for survivors and bringing perpetrators to book.
“In addition, at the global level, we will show our firm commitment to bring an end to the exponential rise of violence against women and girls, by supporting the Chair of the African Union President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa in his call for a treaty to end violence against women and girls at the African Union summit in February 2021,” he said.
Tallen, in her remarks, thanked Buhari for the release of funds to complete the headquarters of the ministry, which she said was abandoned since 2013.
She appreciated the president’s prompt response to rape cases and violence against women during the lockdown as well as the interventions of governments and institutions at the federal and state levels.