The widespread discrimination and violence against women in Nigeria (some forms of which are sanctioned by traditional, customary or religious law) is often ignored, denied or justified by Nigerian officials, the majority of whom are male. Presently, only 12 of the 360 members in the House of Representatives are women; only 3 of the 109 Senators are women, women are discriminated against in the private sector and physical and sexual abuse, female circumcision, early marriage, disinheritance of widows and trafficking in women and girls persists.
Despite these significant obstacles to equitable access to justice, opportunity and human rights protections, Nigerian women's groups continue to press for the adoption of a comprehensive draft bill on violence against women by the Nigerian legislature and mobilize support for Government removal of the legal impediments and social discrimination faced by women.
IHRLG helps streamline the efforts and multiply the impact of existing legal reform campaigns by encouraging and supporting the development of collaborative women's rights advocacy networks, particularly the National Coalition on Violence Against Women (launched in March 2001) and the Legislative Advocacy Coalition on Violence Against Women (launched in February 2001).
Recent activities of IHRLG and our coalition partners include
- Training women's NGOs from the Eastern states of Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu and Imo in advocating legislative reform in the areas of female circumcision, disinheritance practices and social, political and economic discrimination (in partnership with the Women's Aid Collective).
- Convening women's rights leaders to examine the existing legal framework for the protection of women's rights, consider methods of eradicating laws that violate women's rights, and support the enactment of laws that will protect women's rights (in partnership with the Shelter Rights Initiative).
- Marking IHRLG's 3rd annual Day of Action for Women's inheritance rights with three days of advocacy and public outreach, planned in collaboration with the Women's Aid Collective (Enugu). Activities included consultations with traditional leaders (Igwes) and conducting an NGO forum on grassroots mobilizing around women's inheritance rights and the relationship of equal rights to inheritance and landownership to larger issues of women's empowerment and participation in political processes. (Click here to read more about IHRLG's Women's Inheritance Rights in Africa Initiative.)
In consultation with IHRLG's Washington-based Initiative Against Trafficking in Persons, our Nigeria team is expanding their violence against women initiative to include combating trafficking in women and girls.