The coronavirus pandemic has had a more negative impact on women in Nigeria, the Minister of Women Affairs and Social Development, Pauline Tallen, said on Monday.
Mrs Tallen, while speaking at the “Women in Governance and Politics Conference (WIGPC)” live-streamed on Arise TV, said the impact of the COVID-19 restrictions is greater for women who dominate the informal business sector.
“Women are the worst hit by the pandemic because more women are in the informal sector business and they are the ones that most of their businesses are sold on daily basis to earn their living but with the lockdown, it was a battle.
“Most women are the care givers in every home. In the health sector, we have more females as the health givers so you cannot succeed or do anything without putting women in the center,” she said.
The conference was organised by Dinidari Foundation, a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) advocating for the inclusion of women in decision-making processes and to ensure women live a better life.
Mrs Tallen said the ongoing process by the National Assembly to review the 1999 constitution must include women’s views for the constitution to be representative of the citizenry.
She said women have been marginalised and not consulted in the processes of drafting the Constitution.
“Women have been marginalised and have not been consulted in the processes of the constitution. Women’s views must be included in the Constitution for it to be representative of the people of the Federal Republic of Nigeria,” she said.
She noted that there are factors within the country’s laws that need to be rectified for the sake of equity.
“The current constitutional amendment process creates yet another opportunity for Nigeria to do the right thing for Nigerian women. Their demands are simple; equal rights and equal opportunities. An equal society is a better society,” she said.
Meanwhile, the Executive Director of Dinidari Foundation, Ndi Kato, said the call for equal rights and opportunities is not a competition with the male gender.
She noted that Nigeria is a complex nation in need of everyone’s contribution including women, to achieve sustainable development.
“Everybody in Nigeria should be empowered to bring equal contributions to the table for a better nation. The more you continue to keep women down, the more it costs Nigeria because already, the role we are having is not a healthy one and if we must save this ship from sinking, one of the major things we need to look at is equal rights and opportunities for women,” she said.
“Less than 5 per cent of representation in politics, women are not in the table of decision making, women are primary targets of terrorism, women’s ownership of properties is at 11 per cent, the number of girls going to school is very low, we are still dealing with issues of child marriage.
“This is not sustainable, equal rights and opportunities for women means a better life for all of us,” she said.
In his remarks, Enyinnaya Abaribe, a senator representing Abia South Senatorial District, said the 9th Assembly is committed towards ensuring women were given an equal opportunity to contribute their quota towards national development.
He noted that more awareness and sensitisation of the people and lawmakers is needed.