Nigeria Ranks 10th in Africa’s Most Unsafe Countries for Women

Festus Akanbi

Amidst the unabating incidence of armed conflicts in the country, the global Women Peace and Security Index at the weekend ranked Nigeria 10th on the list of Africa’s most unsafe countries for women.
On the list of the Women Peace and Security Index 2023, the Central African Republic (CAR) ranks number one while DR Congo and South Sudan rank second and third, respectively.

In the ranking, Burundi, Eswatini, and Somalia came fourth, fifth, and sixth, respectively, while Niger, Sudan, Chad, and Nigeria followed in seventh, eighth, ninth and tenth positions, respectively.
On the other hand, Seychelles tops the list of African states deemed safe, while Cape Verde, South Africa, Mauritius, Tunisia, Rwanda, Botswana, Tanzania, Ghana, and Sao Tome and Principe followed in that order.
On the global scene, Nigeria ranks 16th worst country out of 177 nations of the world in terms of the status of women, according to the 2023 Women, Peace and Security (WPS) Index report.

The WPS Index report, which was launched last week in New York, captures 13 indicators, including education, employment, laws, and organised violence, classified under three dimensions: inclusion, justice, and security.
According to the report, all the bottom 20 countries, including Nigeria, have experienced armed conflicts between 2021 and 2022, noting that 2022 is the deadliest year on record for conflict-related deaths since the Rwandan genocide in 1994.
Denmark, Switzerland, Sweden, Finland, and Iceland lead the 2023 rankings as the top five countries to live as a woman, while Afghanistan, Yemen, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and South Sudan are the worst five countries on the index.
In the 2023 index, Nigeria ranked 162 out of 177 countries in terms of women’s inclusion, justice, and security, a decline from the 2021/2022 edition where Nigeria ranked 130 of 170 countries.

Meanwhile, the new Index introduced a new Political Violence Targeting Women (PVTW) indicator within the security dimension, showing that Nigeria is among the five countries with the most PVTW events in 2022.
Other countries are Mexico, Brazil, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Myanmar.
The report shows that Nigeria had the third-highest number of PVTW events (194), most of them perpetrated by anonymous armed groups and identity militias, such as the Zamfara and Katsina communal militias, who were allegedly responsible for more than 25 per cent of the PVTW events in the country.
In Nigeria, women’s representation in the National Assembly fell by 19 per cent in 2023, attributed largely to growing political violence against women in the country that inhibited women’s candidacy.

The report also attributed the decline in women’s representation in the National Assembly in 2023 to growing political violence against women in Nigeria.
The WPS index classified maternal mortality as another important metric of justice for women capturing both the quality of healthcare systems and their degree of gender discrimination.
Overall, the index noted that the countries under the fragile states group have the highest average maternal mortality ratio, at 539.7 deaths per 100,000 live births, followed by Sub-Saharan Africa, at 506.9.
The five countries with the highest maternal mortality ratios—South Sudan, Chad, Nigeria, Central African Republic, and Guinea-Bissau—are all classified as fragile states.

According to the report, the factors contributing to the high maternal mortality ratio in Sub-Saharan Africa include child marriage and limited access to contraception and reproductive health education. It said these factors drive up adolescent fertility rates of 100 births per 1,000 girls.
It noted that young girls are more vulnerable to pregnancy-related complications and have less agency over healthcare decisions, compounding their risk of maternal mortality.

In January this year, Nigeria and some other African nations were identified as “dangerous” countries to visit, according to a report.

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