Women can and must play active role in sustainable development and poverty eradication. When women are educated and healthy, their families, communities and countries benefit. Yet gender-based discrimination and violence pervade almost every aspect of life, undermining the opportunities of women and denying them the ability to fully exercise their basic human rights.
Gender equality is one of the eight Millennium Development Goals as well as a human right. Investments in gender equality can improve the lives of both men and women, with lasting benefits for the next generations. For more than 30 years, UNFPA has been in the forefront of bringing gender issues to wider attention, promoting legal and policy reforms and gender sensitive data collection, and supporting projects that empower women economically.
Using Culturally Sensitive Approaches
UNFPA’s activities touch on the most sensitive and intimate spheres of human existence, including reproductive health and rights, gender relations and population issues. Attitudes about these subjects vary widely between and among different cultures.
Changing deeply rooted attitudes, behaviours and laws especially those dealing with gender relations and reproductive health can be a long process that requires a culturally sensitive approach. The Fund respects cultural diversity. At the same time, it rejects those practices that endanger women and girls lives. It works closely and respectfully with communities to enlist their support in upholding the human rights of all its members.
Protecting Human Rights
All individuals are entitled to equal rights and protection. This idea is fundamental to UNFPA’s mission and to its way of working.
A strong emphasis on the rights of individual women and men underpins the 1994 Cairo Consensus that guides UNFPA’s work. This emphasis on human rights at the ICPD marked a shift in population policy and programmes away from a focus on demographic targets to people’s welfare. At that Conference, delegates from all regions and cultures agreed that reproductive health is a basic human right and that individuals should be able to freely choose the number, timing and spacing of their children.
Numerous international agreements affirm the human rights principles that underpin UNFPA’s work in reproductive health, gender equality and population and development.
Building Bridges for Women
Empowerment and Gender Equality.Creating an enabling environment for the implementation of women’s human rights through legislations and legal reforms
The GE project is working in collaboration with the Norwegian Government, UN agencies, female and male legislators and CSOs in Nigeria to achieve promulgation gender sensitive legislations and laws in Nigeria especially in the area of Gender based Violence (GBV). UNFPA through programming funds provided by the Norwegian Government is providing substantial financial and technical support to the Legislative Coalition on Violence Against Women (LACVAW) led by Women’s Rights Advancement Protection Alternative (WRAPA) to promote advocacy for the enactment of a Violence Against Persons Prohibitions Bill (VAPP). Components of the support include the development of a compendium of media reports on GBV and the production and dissemination of BCC materials such as bill boards, posters, Hijabs and stickers The bill successfully passed through a second reading in November 2010. A public hearing of the Bill in planned for January 2011.
Working through CSOs at state levels, UNFPA is also providing support to the enactment of a domestic violence bill, anti-stigmatization law on HIV/AIDS, gender mainstreaming and equal opportunities bills in Benue, Ebonyi and Ogun States respectively
Working towards a more gender responsive Nigerian Police Force
UNFPA in collaboration with UNIFEM and the Nigerian Police Force (NPF) has developed a context specific Gender Policy for the Nigerian Police. This was one of the demand outcomes of a workshop on the improving a gender sensitive response to the issues of GBV organized in November 2009. UNFPA continues to find opportunities to broaden partnerships and discourse on gender issues to include other arms of the security and law enforcement agents. A series of workshops for law enforcement agents and judiciary is planned for 2011.
Building the capacity of national actors through Provision of gender equality tools and training
UNFPA is supporting national gender machinery in Nigeria to develop tools that will be utilized to maximize the skills of gender officers at Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) to undertake gender mainstreaming at sector planning and budgeting level. The necessity of the tools is predicated on the Federal Executive Council’s (FEC) policy directive to MDAs to establish/appoint gender focal units/persons to promote the achievement of gender equality objectives. Building on this momentum to support the operations of these units/persons, UNFPA provided financial and technical support to the development of gender mainstreaming tools and handbook and the development of Terms of Reference to institutionalize the roles and responsibilities of gender focal persons/units. UNFPA is also continuing to build the capacity of project officers at national and state levels to mainstream gender into plans and activities of sectors.
Making a Case for Gender Responsive Budgeting
UNFPA continues to support dialogue for Gender responsive budgeting (GRB) in Nigeria. In collaboration with the FMWASD, UNFPA has developed and produced guidelines to guide the actions of gender focal persons and units to mainstream gender issues into budgets action plans of their sectors. Technical and financial support was also provided for the production of an advocacy kit on GRB.
Promoting a gender sensitive framework actions for Trafficking in Persons in Nigeria
UNFPA is contributing to the campaign to combat trafficking in persons in Nigeria through the provision of technical and financial support to the process of the development of a strategic framework of implementation for the 2008 policy on trafficking in persons in Nigeria. The planned review of the draft document is scheduled for January 2011.
Linking access to RH services and commodities to economic empowerment of women
UNFPA is bridging the gaps in access to RH commodities and services for poor women and girls through the provision of livelihoods skills training, grants and starter kits for micro-production. UNFPA in 2010 trained about 1,300 young women and girls in income generating activities to enable them command resources that will improve their ability to access reproductive health services. Categories of women trained and provided with grants and starter packs include women and girls trafficked victims, HIV/AIDS positive poor women, and GBV survivors. UNFPA also provided institutional support to 30 Women Development Centres (WDCs) with micro-credit equipment.
Improving women’s participation in governance and decision making
UNFPA is working both laterally and vertical with stakeholders and relevant agencies to promote the 35% affirmative action for women’s participation in governance and decision making. Following the support to a national summit on women in politics in Nigeria, UNFPA is working in partnership with UN agencies and CSO partners on dialoguing with political parties and INEC to increase space for women’s representation and participation in elective positions. UNFPA is also providing support to women political aspirants by championing their cases within their individual political parties to ensure that interests of women are maintained.
Contributing to Gender sensitive research and data for development planning in Nigeria
UNFPA in collaboration with the Norwegian government is contributing to the improvement of programming data on gender based violence through the support to a assessment of the root causes of GBV and GBV centres. The outcomes of the report will inform effective programming on GBV and provide a basis for future interrogative research on GBV. UNFPA is also supporting the process of further analysis of the GBV data to improve its usefulness and utilization to interpreting context specific issues of GBV to improve relevancy and specificity of GBV programming.
Creating awareness for reduction of GBV through movies
One of the activities that commenced prior the receipt of funds was the production of the movie “Hajja” The damaged merchandise, The movie provides vivid illustrations of the disabling effects of VVF and how the society (opinion leaders, traditional rulers and individuals) could organize against GBV. The central message it portrays also is how women can take charge and become change elements inspite of restrictive cultural norms and practices. The airing of this movie increased knowledge, discourse and commitment to the reduction of VVF as a form of GBV using the movie. The movie was premiered in April 2009 at the Maternal Mortality Workshop with the First Lady of Federal Republic of Nigeria Hajiya Turai Umar ‘Yar Adua’a and all the wives of 36 state governors in Nigeria.
The movie “Freedom in Chains” was translated into French and disseminated at FESPACO African Film and Television Festival of Ouagadougou. The Festival panafricain du cinéma et de la télévision de Ouagadougou (FESPACO) is the largest African film festival, held biannually in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. The festival is the biggest regular cultural event on the African continent and it mostly showcases African films and African filmmakers. The festival offers African film Industry professionals an opportunity to establish working relationships, exchange ideas and to promote their work .The movie was screened at this event to educate and create awareness on Gender Based Violence (GBV). Participants appreciated the movie and demanded for copies of the movie to use for the campaign against Gender Based Violence. Furthermore, “Freedom in Chains” was at the events of the 2009 International women’s Day with the theme “Women and Men Unite to end Violence against women and Girls”. Many civil society organizations and the public participated in event which raised awareness for GBV were in attendance during the airing of the movie. In addition, the movies was also aired at venues of UNFPA supported maternal Mortality workshop in Benue, Borno, Sokoto and Lagos states.