A combination of insecurity and economic problems are pushing Nigerians to the edge, writes KENE OBIOZU 

The grave challenges facing Nigeria as a country irreducibly require that all hands must be on deck to arrest the seemingly unstoppable national slide into chaos and anarchy as insecurity and poverty continue to spiral out of control. While it is true that too many hands spoil the broth, the Nigerian experience has uniquely been one where those who have forced themselves to steer the ship of the state have at best shown fragility and at worse, filth. 

The question that also makes a lot of sense right away is: if those who have been steering the ship of the Nigerian state to date have done a  messy  job, showing in the process that they are not capable of much exertions in that wise, what has stopped the gears from shifting to accommodate new hands? 

Like many countries of the world, Nigeria is a patriarchal society. And for all its faults, it remains one. For many years, the country has been structured in such a way that it has become ingrained in the national psyche that it is women who must play second fiddle to men. Actually, it comes from history and begins from childhood where boys are often put before girls often without a jot of reason or respect. Thus, girls grow up hearing that in a country and world where men put themselves everywhere, throwing their weight around, they must serve as second class citizens. 

The problems this kind of  mentality and reality have posed over the years have been simply immeasurable with only glimpses caught in the horrific and varied forms of abuse women suffer from men from time to time which abuse  always receives some sort of  endorsement by a society conditioned to  approve one sex as slave drivers and another as slaves. The road to justice has often proven a treacherous one. 

If the world is to become a better place than it currently is, equality cannot remain the mirage it is at the moment. Invariably, this means that the gaps that exists in so many places would have to close themselves or be closed.It would appear that in 2022, amid multi-layered and compounding crises including the rising cost of living, the ongoing pandemic, the climate emergency and large scale conflict and displacement, the progress towards gender parity is stalling. 

This halt in progress towards parity is a catastrophe for the future of economies, societies and communities. The World Economic Forum recently released its Global Gender Gap Report for 2022. The report revealed some startling insights. While more women have been moving into paid work over the last decades and, increasingly into leadership positions in industry, there have been continued headwinds: societal expectations, employer policies, the legal environment and the availability of care infrastructure. This has continued to limit the educational opportunities women access as well as the career possibilities they can pursue. 

At the World Economic Forum, the Center for the New Economy and Society is complimenting measurement of gender gaps with a growing portfolio of action initiatives and leadership communities dedicated to accelerating progress. The Gender Parity Accelerators aim to hardwire gender parity in the world of work. The sixteenth edition of the report also provides new data on emerging trends in the labour market and society more widely. 

The Global Gender Index benchmarks the current state and evolution of gender parity across four key dimensions (Economic Participation ad Opportunity, Educational Attainment, Health and Survival, and political empowerment. In the 2022 report, the index benchmarks 146 countries, providing a basis for robust cross-country analysis. 

 In 2022, the global gender gap has been closed by 68.1%. At the current rate of progress, it will take 132 years to reach full parity. This represents a slight four-year improvement compared to 2021 estimate (136 years to parity). Across the 146 countries covered by the 2022 index, the Health and Survival Gender gap has closed by 95.8%, Educational Attainment by 94.4%, Economic Participation and Opportunity by 60.3%, and Political Empowerment by 22%. 

The 2022 index gives off some interesting insights. Of all sub-Saharan African countries, it is only Rwanda (81.1%) in 6th and Namibia (80.7%) in 8th that feature in the top ten. Nigeria comes in 123rd place out of 146 countries, with a score of 0.639  which is an improvement from its 2021 position of 139th and score of 0.627. In Economic Participation and Opportunity, Nigeria ranked 50th with a score of 0.724, an improvement from its 2021 position of 78th and a score of 0.67. 

In Educational Attainment, Nigeria ranks 134th with a score of 0.826 which is an improvement from its 2021 position of 146th with a score of 0.806. In Health and Survival, Nigeria ranks 97th with a score of 0.967, an improvement from the 104th position it posted in 2021 with a score of 0.967. On Political Empowerment, Nigeria ranked 141st with a score of 0.040 as opposed to 2021 when it scored 0.047 but scored 149th

From the report, Nigeria`s struggles are clear for all to see. The Giant of Africa performed poorest in the area of political empowerment for women. There is no doubt that the country must do more for its women in terms of political empowerment. A golden opportunity beckons with the general elections scheduled for next year. It is one Nigeria cannot miss because as soon as the gender gap remains, gender justice and a more equal society will remain fleeting dreams. 

Kene Obiezu, keneobiezu@gmail.com 

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