Nigeria: Two Years After Judgement, Women Task Tinubu On 35% Affirmative Action

Since the ruling, governments at various levels have failed to implement the policy by not meeting the 35 per cent women inclusion quota.

Two years after a landmark judgement ordering the Nigerian government to implement the 35 per cent affirmative action, women groups and other concerned parties have condemned the government’s failure to implement the ruling.

The Federal High Court in Abuja, on 6 April 2022, ordered the Nigerian government to enforce the National Gender Policy by allotting 35 per cent of appointments in the public sector to women.

Since the ruling, governments at various levels, have failed to implement the policy by not meeting the 35 per cent women inclusion quota.

However, at a media dialogue organised by Women Radio 91.7 FM in commemoration of the two-year judgement, women groups have called on President Bola Tinubu to prioritise female representation in his government.

Need for women representation, collaboration

In her comments, the National President of the International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA),

Amina Agbaje, lamented that the Tinubu-led administration appointed fewer women as ministers.

The proportion of women on Mr Tinubu’s ministerial list falls short of the 35 per cent affirmative action, with eight women out of 45 ministers.

Ms Agbaje said: “If women were considered good enough to vote and campaign during elections, they should be considered good enough to be appointed to various political positions.”

Ms Agbaje added that there is a need to sustain and continue the demand for more women’s representation.

On her part, Rasheedat Medupin of the Sustainable Gender Action Initiative (SGAI) stated that the government needs to partner with civil society organisations to intensify efforts to implement the 35 per cent affirmative action and also make Nigeria a nation where women’s voices are heard.

Ms Medupin, who appealed to the Tinubu-led government to uphold the judgement of 6 April 2022 by appointing more women into positions, added that Nigeria needs to accept women as accomplished leaders and ensure that gender policies are implemented.

According to Marshal Abubakar of Falana & Falana Chambers, the government must be reminded to obey the rule of law of judgment of 6 April 2022.

Mr Abubakar urged Nigerian women to go back to court to get the judgement enforced should the Tinubu administration fail to uphold the judgement, while also calling for the need to engage with stakeholders at the national assembly to canvass for constitutional amendment to allow women to occupy more seats.

More comments

Ngozi Nwosu-Juba of Vision Spring Initiatives also emphasised the need to involve more women at the grassroots and return to court to get the judgement enforced.

Ms Nwosu-Juba recommended that the ongoing constitutional review should be taken advantage of to revisit the five gender bills to make up for the lack of women in governance.

Zainab Yahaya Tanko of Nigerian Women Trust Fund stated that women have the numbers and must be adequately represented, while also calling for the need to intensify efforts until the judgement is implemented.

The consensus of the media dialogue is that the government must implement in full its own National Gender Policy that has been further made mandatory through the 6 April 2022 landmark judgement in favour of Nigerian women.

Background on Affirmative Action

A group of Nigerian civil society organisations led by the Nigerian Women Trust Fund filed a suit against the Nigerian government on 24 August 2020, seeking the implementation of the 35 per cent Affirmative Action as contained in the National Gender Policy which was adopted by the government in 2006.