The Chairman, National Human Rights Commission, Chidi Odinkalu, has said there is a need for the Nigerian government to scrap the Ministry of Women Affairs.
Speaking at a forum attended by top editors and staff of NHRC, Mr. Odinkalu said the women affairs ministry, as presently constituted, lacks the political leverage and capacity to tackle women’s issues.
He said there must be a holistic approach to institutionalizing issues concerning women and children into all ministries.
“If I have my way, I will abolish women affairs ministry. It lacks the political leverage and weight to tackle issues of women rights and development. It is like having 28 ministries – one for women – it is as if the 28 others are not for women,” Mr. Odinkalu said.
Mr. Odinkalu said issues surrounding women and children are treated with kid gloves and called for the amendment of the criminal law.
The human right boss also decried the failure of some states in domesticating the child rights act.
He said only 23 states and the Federal Capital territory have so far domesticated the law.
He called on editors to encourage the reportage of women and children issues in their organisations.
He also called on government agencies to be more open in making information and official reports available to citizens.
“For as long as we do not publish key reports on women issues, we continue to objectify women. When there is no information you manufacture fantasy,” he said.
On sexual harassment, Mr. Odinkalu said the culture of silence among victims of harassment and abuse – either corporate, domestic or otherwise – must be discouraged.
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