All Eyes on Governor Ambode To Appoint More Women In Lagos State

The 2015 General Elections in Nigeria has come and gone but for women in Lagos State and indeed throughout Nigeria, it will go down in history as the election that almost obliterated whatever gains they have recorded in elective positions since the beginning of this current democratic dispensation in 1999.
Women who contested in Lagos State recorded significant losses which saw the number of women at the Lagos State House of Assembly shrunk to 5 from 7 in the last House of Assembly while the number of women from Lagos in the House of Representatives reduced to1 from 3 in last National Assembly.
Despite the electoral losses, many women are still hopeful that the losses can be mitigated by having more women in appointive positions. This is more so in Lagos state where the newly elected Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode by his utterances and actions before and after the elections have committed to ensuring gender equality and particularly committing to having more women in governance.
According to Mr. Akiwunmi Ambode on February 5, 2015 during the Town Hall meeting held for Gubernatorial Candidates in Lagos State by women at Muson Centre in Lagos, he said,
“Iam more for women’s right and equality. While I was the Accountant-General, I had six women directors and two male directors. We wish to see sometimes soon, women governors and women speakers of the House of Assembly in Lagos state”
He further committed himself by saying that;
“My commitment towards women in everything I do is very personal. No girl would be denied good education. You can hold me accountable for every word that I have spoken,” (http://saharanewspost.com/2015/02/lagos-women-drill-ambode-agbaje-adeniji/)

The most auspicious time to hold the Governor accountable for every word that he has spoken is now, when he is set to appoint his cabinet and reconstitute the boards and agencies which he dissolved immediately he stepped into office as Governor.
It is very important to set the records straight and awaken the consciousness of the new Governor to the fact that history beckons on him to achieve parity for women in the governance of Lagos State.
Historical review of appointments into Lagos State Executive Council since year 1967 when Lagos State was created revealed that, women’s representation in the council has not exceeded 21% either Under military or democratic government. The situation under this current democratic dispensation is worse off as the highest so far recorded is 11% ( see figure 1, 2 and Table 1 below), a percentage way below 35% affirmative action stipulated under the Nigeria National Gender Policy (2006)

Figure 1-page-001Figure 2-page-001

The position of the Deputy Governor remains the only position where women have had higher representation than men. Between 1979 and 2015, Lagos has had 6 female Deputy Governors compared to 3 male Deputy Governors (table 2)

TABLE 1-page-001

Figure 1-page-001Figure 2-page-001

In over 4 decades of the existence of Lagos State, men have been 14 times opportune to get appointed into Lagos State Executive Council than women. This is indeed a poor showing from a State acknowledged as the role model of good governance in Nigeria. It is unjust to say the least, that despite the active participation of Lagos women in politics, especially the women traders who are noted for their political mobilization and massive voting during elections, they hardly ever win elections or are given appointments in government.

Over the years, Lagos no doubt has shown considerable political will in the quest for gender equality and women’s empowerment. The predecessors of Governor Ambode; Governors, Bola Ahmed Tinubu and Babatunde Raji Fashola has helped to set the ball rolling by enacting and adopting gender sensitive Laws and policies such as, Child

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rights Law, Paternity leave, Domestic Violence Law and gender Policy. It is time to deepen the engagement and raise the bar on behalf of women by achieving parity for women in appointive positions in Lagos State.

It will be naïve to think that securing more appointive positions for women in Lagos State under the new administration of Governor Ambode will be automatic. It will definitely take a lot of lobbying and advocacy. Women have braced up for the challenge. Lagos state Gender Advocacy Team (LASGAT) has been in the forefront of the advocacy for more women in Lagos State and have taken up the challenge.
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Before the elections, LASGAT prepared the Gender and Social Inclusion Charter for candidates contesting elections in Lagos State to endorse. The charter brings to the fore the desires and voices of Lagos women, youths, people with disabilities, marginalized and socially vulnerable communities to the centre of political discourse. The charter made 7 demands referred to as” 7 Point Development Asks” by which government will be held accountable and responsive to gender equality, women’s empowerment and inclusion in Lagos state. The 5th Development ‘Asks’ in the charter calls on Lagos State government to demonstrate Political will to Gender equality and inclusive governance by establishing a system of gender mainstreaming which incorporates 35% of women in all sectors of government (https://c21stnigeria.wordpress.com/2015/08/23/gender-equality-and-social-inclusion-charter-for-lagos-state/).

A few female candidates in Lagos State endorsed the Charter at an interactive forum organized by LASGAT for female Candidates contesting in Lagos state before the elections. After, the elections, LASGAT had a consultative meeting with elected female members of the Lagos State House of Assembly to strategize for the implementation of the Charter.

To show the commitment of LASGAT in supporting the appointment of more women, a list of credible, qualified and competent women who can be appointed into various appointive positions in Lagos State was complied and the list was sent to the Governor for his attention. This was done to foreclose any excuse that qualified women are not available or that women are not interested in serving the State. It is expected that the Governor will act on this list.

Judging by the recent appointment of 10 women permanent secretary out of the 19 newly appointed permanent secretaries in Lagos State, it appeared that Governor Ambode has began to make good his promises to Lagos women and he is set to redress the injustice of the past by appointing more women into Lagos State Executive Council and Boards of Parastatals and Agencies.
The appointment of more women permanent secretaries is welcomed and celebrated but efforts to see that more women are appointed into the Lagos State Executive Council and Boards of Agencies must be intensified until it is achieved. Afterwards, advocacy efforts to put pressure on the government to pass the Gender and Equal Opportunities Law wherein 35% of all appointments in Lagos state is reserved for women should proceed. The Governor should know from the outset that appointment of more women is not to be a one off thing. His vision of seeing women attaining the position of Governor and Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly can only materialize if it is recognized in a written Law.

Need it be emphasized that participation of women and men in politics is very essential to ensure that their rights and issues are addressed within the framework of governance. Significantly, increasing the representation of women in politics and governance provides the avenue through which they can change discriminatory Laws, policies, programs and practices that affect them.

Consequently, Governor, Ambodes must not shy away from exercising his power as the executive Governor of Lagos State in favour of women. He is better placed now than ever to redress the historical marginalization of women in appointive positions. He must stand with the women of Lagos and live up to his electoral promises. All eyes are on him to make it right for women.

By
Ms Gbemisola Titilope Ngozi Akosa
Executive Director
Centre for 21st century Issues
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LASGAT Members

Gender Equality and Social Inclusion Charter For Lagos State

GENDER EQUALITY AND SOCIAL INCLUSION CHARTER FOR LAGOS STATE

1.0 PREAMBLE

Lagos state Gender Advocacy Team (LASGAT)  as an ensemble of organizations and individuals working for gender equality, women’s empowerment and socially inclusive Lagos state have come together in solidarity to advocate and influence policy directions in Lagos State.

Given our participation in various interventions and in  series of dialogues aimed at improving the lives and status of women, children,  people living with disabilities , the youth ,  marginalized and   socially vulnerable communities  in Lagos state;

We welcome and celebrate the positive leadership role of Lagos State in supporting and adopting laws and policies which seek to promote gender equality, women’s empowerment and inclusion;

We are encouraged by the development strides of Lagos State in adopting a development plan which has gender equality and women’s empowerment as its corner stone.

We note that the socio- economic development profile of Lagos State has improved significantly in the last 16 years of our democratic experience.  There has been marked improvement in infrastructure development, health care service delivery, transportation, agriculture, housing, youth employment, education, environmental sustainability and women’s empowerment.

We recognize that despite the rising socio-economic profileof Lagos State, a lot still needs to be done to ensure good, equitable and accountable governance.

We are however concerned that if candidates contesting the 2015 general elections in Lagos state are not informed about gender equality and inclusive issues and are unable to make informed commitments in that stead, the gains recorded towards gender harmony , peace and prosperity may be jeopardized.

We are desirous of building a strong relationship between the people and the government and hold government accountable and responsive to gender equality, women’s empowerment and inclusion in Lagos state when the baton of leadership changes come 29th of May 2015

To this end we stand together to bring  forward the desires  and voices o fLagos women, youths, people with disabilities, marginalized and socially vulnerable communities to the centre of political discourse to influence policy directions towards progressive change.

This charter is addressed to all candidates contesting the 2015 gubernatorial, national and State assembly elections in Lagos State. This charter is also addressed to all stakeholders who believe and know that engaging gender equality and social inclusion issues is important in driving growth, peace and a prosperous Lagos State.

3.0 OUR 7 POINT DEVELOPMENT ‘ASKS‘

Aware that there are various issues and challenges from various sectors and actors which demands prompt attention but it  must be acknowledged that gender inequality, women’s empowerment and social inclusion are peculiar issues which if satisfactorily addressed can enhance the quality of lives and help to achieve progress in all areas of development.

3.1‘Ask’1Commit to the Implementation of the Lagos State Development Plan 2012-2025:

Rationale

The recently adopted Lagos State Development Plan is focused on building sustainable governance and ensuring sustainable development. It prioritizes 4 sectors namely Power, Agriculture, Transportation and Housing. Gender mainstreaming is one of the pillars of the plan.

The rigours of the policy development process which waspainstakingly driven  by the tireless efforts of civil society, development partners and other stakeholders stands to be wasted if candidates and their political parties contesting elections to various public positions in the state do not have a clear commitment to make the development plan work.

Development plan is a working document that set standards and policy directions for the next 20 years and must be promoted and implemented if we want sustainable development and continuous economic prosperity.

ASKS

  • Set up action plans for its implementation with clear timelines and deliverables
  • Set up a monitoring and evaluation framework to ensure timely delivery.

3.2 ‘Ask’2 Invest In Inclusive Education

Rationale

Formal and informal education is very important in ensuring progressive human resources that can power the state to greater developmental heights.

The Child Rights Laws of Lagos state has made basic education from primary to junior secondary school free and compulsory. For the maximum achievement of this Law, the Ministry of Women’s Affairs have been active in ensuring all children of school age are in school.  Infrastructural supports to public schools and improved remuneration for teachers with periodic capacity building to boost teaching have been provided. The implementation of the EKO project has really improved learning outcomes for pupils who benefitted in the project.

In Lagos State, there are 31 inclusive units and 5 special schools in primary school category and seven inclusive units for secondary school category. These schools have been set up to cater for the needs of pupils with disabilities

However, there remain some significant challenges which must be overcome to ensure full enrolment retention and completion of basic education for all children of school age.

Some of the challenges include growing population of out of school children in the state, disparity in primary education and lack of integration scheme for girls who drop out of school as result of pregnancy.

With regards to inclusive units,the percentage of schools meant for the education of special needs people is insignificant when compared with the likely population of school-age special needs children. The inclusive education program in Lagos State as of now, only addresses the educational needs of few individuals with special needs, while several other target groups of inclusive education are yet to be captured.

The participation of Private sector in primary and secondary education in Lagos State is another huge issue which the state has inadvertently ignored.  Recent research has revealed that  thereareabout 15,000 private schools operating in Lagos   compared to1001public  primary schools and  602 public secondary schools. Many of the private schools are unapproved but yet provide education to 1.5million children. While many of these schools serves the poor, the quality of education the school offers remains unknown and open to doubt

ASKS

  • Ensure that all children are enrolled retained and effect their transition to higher schools
  • Improve teaching and learning conditions
  • Conduct out of school baseline study and monitor progress periodically
  • Finalize and adopt the draft inclusive education policy
  • Provide vocational education/training that can stimulate economic growth.
  • Provide library in all secondary schools.
  • Ensure quality educational standards in both public and private schools
  • Remove regulatory hindrance and informal practices that undermines private sector participation in education
  • Re-invigorate adult education programme in the state to enhance literacy at all levels.

3.3Ask’ 3. Invest in Women and Youth Economic Empowerment and Livelihoods

Rationale

Women constitute a significant proportion of people living below the poverty line in Lagos state. Their activities dominates the informal sector which is the mainstay of Lagos economy but in spite of this they have been disempowered by limited access to and control of economic  resources and  skills.

There is high rate of youth unemployment while persons with disability are hardly able to get employment. The situation of Women and men living in vulnerable communities are worse off.

Although the Lagos State government over the years have implemented skills acquisition programs for both men and women in the State and have given loans and grants. But there is need for better economic empowerment that links skills to market and create a favourable economic environment for all

ASKS

  • Institutionalize measures that increase women’s access to credit and capital Micro, Small and Medium scale Enterprise (MSMEs)
  • Strengthen the newly created Head of department for women and poverty Alleviation and office of the supervisory counselors at the Local governments to deliver economic empowerment initiatives and give mentoring support for setting up of  MSMEs
  • Provide capacity building and agricultural entrepreneurship education for women , youth and persons with disabilities
  • Invest in women green business and open up the space for green skills acquisition

3.4 ‘Ask’ 4 Provide Affordable Health Care Services and Social Security

Rationale

Health care service delivery in the state has improved overtime as a result of the passing into law of the Lagos state health reform law of 2006. Significantly Primary Health Centre (PHC) infrastructure has been refurbished; sustainable drug revolving fund has been established in most PHCs. The uptake of Community based health insurance (CBHI) has commenced in  some parts of the state while a bill to institutionalized CBHI is currently been debated at the floor of Lagos State house of assembly.

Free health care services in the state have been variously confirmed in policy statements of the Government and this includes free health care service tochildren from ages 0 to5 years, the aged and pregnant women.

But in reality free health care services have not been totally free there are many hidden costs which citizens still have to pay for.

Women bear the consequences of social problems like unemployment, poverty, powerlessness, conflicts, corruption among others, in addition to the effects of globalization, economic restructuring and rapidly changing systems of production and consumption. All these have consequences for women’s health, safety, security, and overall quality of life.

The health burdens of women are also increased due to the use of unclean fuels for household cooking. Majority of households in Lagos state within urban and rural areas rely heavily on kerosene (84.6%), fuel wood (7.6%) and traditional biomass such as dung and coal for domestic cooking.  Only a small proportion of about 6.3% use clean and safe fuels such as LPG, biogas and natural gas for domestic cooking.

The state is in the process of finalizing its social protection policy and it is believed that the policy will take care of most of the health care and social challenges.

ASKS

  • Provide funding commensurate to the scale of the challenge of maternal and child mortality.
  • Undertake a fundamental review of economic policies to promote the wellbeing and security of women, men, youth (male & female) and persons with disabilities.
  • Provide social security including legislation and budget for the poor, women and the elderly (free maternal health care, access to pension, free education for children, affordable housing, etc).
  • Facilitate the speedy passage of the Community Based Insurance health scheme Bill
  • Provide viable technological options that reduce the effect of climate change on women and children for example support for the clean cookstove initiative, which saves women’s lives, money and the environment
  • Strengthen Community participation in health care service delivery

3.5 ‘Ask’5 Demonstrate Political will to Gender equality and inclusive governance.

Rationale

Women occupy less than 10% of both appointive and political positions in Lagos state despite constituting almost 50% of the population.People with disability and youth appear not having any significant representation in leadership positions and governance.

The quest for gender and inclusive participation in governance has endured for some time but the minimum affirmative action standard of 35% representation for women is yet to be achieved.

Nevertheless, the state has taken an initial step to address this inequality by initiating the Gender Equality and Equal Opportunities Bill which is currently been debated on the floor of the Lagos State House of Assembly.

The bill when passed into law will address all issues of inequality, discrimination and injustice based on gender, disability or any other discriminatory issue.

ASKS

  • Facilitate legislative acceleration for the enactment of Gender and equal opportunities bill
  • Establish a system of gender mainstreaming which incorporates 35% of women in all sectors of government
  • Include gender, youth and persons living with disabilities as parameters of equal opportunity
  • Work with data-generating agencies to generate sex- disaggregated data to inform policy
  • Have clear gender indicators showing delivery and tracking of results for girls, boys, women and men in every sector
  • Partner with civil society to develop innovative means of ensuring that citizens engage government, demand and receive accountability.

3.6 ‘Ask’6 Provide Basic Amenities and Infrastructure Development

In the last 8years Lagos has been able to a reasonable extent address the issues of infrastructure deficit which is a constraint to growth and social empowerment of both women and men.  Road has been constructed, the bus rapid transport has been introduced to ease the burden of transportation, renewal of public parks and beautification programs has been sustained, expansion of water infrastructure to service more homes with portable water, construction of light rail system, slum upgrading and reconstruction of public facilities to ensure that they are disability friendly.

All these developments have come with a huge social cost to the women and children living and doing business on unsecured tenures, illegal structures and slums. Many of them havebeen displaced from their homes and business without any compensation. The provision of housing in the state is out of the reach of the common man.

The impacts of climate related disasters and other disasters such as building collapse is compounding the problems.Practically , the social groups hardest hit when climate disaster strikes in Lagos are: children, women, poor and indigent households, female-headed households,  youth and the elderly; the disabled and sick and most especially people living in low- quality housing- slums and flood prone areas. Of course women bear the disproportionate burden in all these.

Some communities in Lagos state especially the riverside communities’ still lack basic social amenities such as drainages, portable water supply, electricity, road network, toilets, and waste disposal and sanitation services. These communities bear the disproportionate burden of developmental deficit in Lagos state.

ASKS

  • Slum upgrading and other infrastructural upgrading should take account of vulnerable and affected populations in accordance with international human rights standards
  • All social issues emanating from demolition of houses should be addressed in a transparent manner and the lives and livelihoods of those affected protected.
  • Service all household in Lagos state with clean, accessible and adequate water supply
  • Connect riverside communities with road networks and construct drainages in the communities
  • Provide affordable housing to all
  1. 7 ‘Ask’7 Protectand Strengthen theEnforcement ofBasic Rights

Rationale

Lagos state in line with the human rights provisions of the Nigerian constitution has enacted laws to protect the basic rights of its citizens. The state has recognized the need to domesticate some important women’s rights instruments and adopt a human rights approach to addressing the issues of women and vulnerable groups.

The Child Rights Law and Domestic Violence Law were passed in 2007.The Special People’s Law was passed in 2010. The State has adopted the policy of 6months maternity leave for women and one month paternity leave for men. In addition, a law to make it an offence for a man to abandon any woman he has made pregnant has been passed.

In furtherance of implementing the Domestic violence Law, the offenders register was established and Domestic Violence Response Team (DVRST) set up under the office of the Attorney General to response speedily to cases of domestic violence and raises awareness.

The State Ministry of Women Affairs have provided shelter for victims of domestic violence and provided a complaint mechanism to strengthen the implementation of the domestic violence Law.However, the violation of women’s rights, persons with disabilities, vulnerable communities and non-indigenes still remain un-redressed due to weak enforcement.  Gender-based violence including rape, incest, sexual exploitation in private and public domains; harassment, intimidation and exploitation remains a critical concern.

The need for continuity of interventions such as DVRST, provision of shelter and the need to strengthen the enforcement of the laws protecting the rights of women, orphan and vulnerable children and persons with disabilities cannot be overemphasized.

The safety of women children, people with disabilities and other vulnerable children is of paramount importance in ensuring social justice and equity

ASKS

  • Continue the DVRST and interventions to provide support for Victims of domestic violence and sexual abuse in the state.
  • Strengthen the implementation of Domestic Violence Law by empowering the office of the Chief Judge of Lagos State to establish counselling centres in all the Local governments as stipulated by the law.
  • Accelerate the implementation of the Special People’s Law.
  • Make budgetary allocations for the enforcement of Domestic Violence Laws and the Special Peoples Laws.

4.0 COMMITMENT OF LASGAT

LASGAT understand that for every right there is a corresponding duty. We therefore commit to work in partnership with any government that comes into office to build structures and processes to enable us track the delivery of our ‘asks’ and to review our Charter as necessary.

 

5.0 Conclusion

Overall, the components of the gender equality and social inclusion charter of LASGAT is  desirable not only to  gain the confidence and put integrity into the governance system in Lagos state but also to establish a social compact with the people to help put pressure on candidates  to deliver on their electoral promises.  This charter will undoubtedly speed up women’s active involvement and meaningful participation in building the Lagos state we can proudly call our own

Charter Dated this 24th -Day of  March 2015

SOURCES;

Nigerian Women Manifesto 2013,

Lagos State Draft Inclusive Education Policy

Developing Effective Private Education Nigeria (DEEPEN) research on Private sector participation in education,

Gender and Climate Change study by Centre for 21st century issues, 2011

Lagos People’s Charter by Lagos State Civil Society Partnership (LACSOP)

Lagos Climate Disaster Analysis Report (Draft)2014

The Gender Pact with Gubernatorial CandidatesTwelve points Demand Facilitated by Women Advocate Research and Documentation Centre (WARDC)