Nigeria

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Nigeria has a National Gender Policy that focuses on women empowerment while also making a commitment to eliminate discriminatory practices that are harmful to women.[1]However, significant gender gaps in education, economic empowerment and political participation remain in Nigeria.[2] While progress towards parity in primary school education has been made, there remains a significant wage and labour force participation gender gap.[3]Discriminatory laws and practices, violence against women and gender stereotypes hinder greater progress towards gender equality. Nigeria has a particularly high maternal mortality rate and women access to quality health care is limited, particularly in rural areas.[4]
The 1999 Constitution of Nigeria[5] prohibits discrimination on the grounds of Sex, but customary and religious laws continue to restrict women’s rights. As Nigeria is a federal republic, each State has the authority to draft its own legislation. However, any law that is contradictory to Federal Law or the Constitution can be challenged in a Federal Court. The combination of federation and a tripartite system of civil, customary and religious law makes it very difficult to harmonise legislation and remove discriminatory measures. Moreover, certain States in the north follow Islamic (Sharia) law, although not exclusively and only in instances where Muslims make use of Islamic courts.[6] Adherence to Islamic and customary law reinforces practices that are unfavourable to women, including those relating to freedom of movement, marriage, and inheritance. Although an ‘Abolition of all Forms of Discrimination against Women in Nigeria and other Related Matters Bill’ was considered in the mid- 2000s, the National Assembly did not pass this bill nor a related national bill prohibiting violence against women.
Nigeria ratified the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) in 1985, and the Optional Protocol in 2004.[7] The country ratified the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa in 2005.[8]


[1] JICA (2011) [2] World Economic Forum (2011) [3] Idem [4] CEDAW (2008a) [5] Sections 15(2) and 42 [6] US Department of State (2012) [7] United Nations Treaty Collection (2011) [8] African Union (2010)
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