The COVID-19 pandemic is ravaging African nations, albeit slowly, with lockdown measures enforced in 52 Member States of the African Union, including Nigeria. Nigeria’s President, Muhammadu Buhari, earlier announced the distribution of relief packages to the most vulnerable and poorest Nigerians. However, Nigeria's response, just like most countries in Africa, is oblivious to gender components. To address this gap, the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung Nigeria, on April 24, 2020, held a virtual roundtable on “Making COVID-19 Responses in Nigeria more Gender-sensitive”. The roundtable was inspired by a policy paper compiled by various Nigerian Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and individuals titled “Integrating Gender into Nigeria’s COVID-19 Response”. The paper exposed various gender-specific vulnerabilities during this period of dealing with the pandemic and of lockdown and it proposes a set of gender-sensitive interventions.
The roundtable brought active experts from CSOs, International Organisations/Donors, Academics, Informal sector organisations, the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19, Nigeria Police Force, and youth-led organizations together on the subject.
The 90-minute virtual roundtable featured three key speakers and a keynote listener including Olabukunola Williams, Education as Vaccine; Abiola Akiyode, Women Advocacy, Research and Documentation Centre; Mr. Frank Mba, Public Relations Officer, Nigeria Police Force; and a member of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, as the keynote listener.
Over 89 per cent of women in Sub Saharan Africa are engaged in the informal sector. Nigeria has 45.5 percent of her workforce as women, with 73.15 per cent involved in farm activities and 26.85 percent engaged in non-farming business activities. Indeed, the dominance of women in the informal sector of the country places women at a higher risk of the negative impacts of the COVID19 lockdown in Nigeria. Also, the cases of gender-based violence has increased since the lockdown, as some people are forced to stay with abusive partners during this period, with no provision by the government to ensure the safety of those at risk.
At the end of the virtual roundtable, the participants, stakeholders, and speakers agreed on a common Recommendation Document for the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, the Nigeria Police Force, International Organisations/Donors, and the Civil Society Organisations.
The strategy and plan of action document would help CSOs strategize advocacies aimed at ensuring Nigeria’s government implement gender-sensitive approaches towards the COVID-19 Pandemic.
FES Nigeria will be supporting relevant stakeholders in implementing the outcomes of the roundtable.
Download the recommendations here.