It Is Important That Women’s Voices Are Heard, Says Osinbajo

A file photo of the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo.

 

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, says it is important for the voices of women to be heard and for them to participate more actively in the development of policies in different sectors as they are major contributors to national development.

Prof. Osinbajo stated this today when he received at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, a delegation of Jam’iyyar Matan Arewa, the association of women in Northern Nigeria.

At the meeting, the Vice President was also presented with the Association’s Icon/Humanitarian Award, in recognition of the VP’s support to the less privileged in society and especially children orphaned by the Boko Haram insurgency in the North East, particularly through the North East Children’s Trust, an initiative championed by Prof. Osinbajo, which set up The Learning Centre in Maiduguri.

While appreciating the group for the award, the Vice President stated that “it is important that your voices are heard very clearly, it is an economic issue. No country in the world has attained economic development without giving equal opportunities to women. Every wealthy nation in the world that has attained greatness has done so because women in that nation were accorded equal rights and opportunities.”


READ ALSO: Buhari Begins Fresh Plans In Revised Policy To Eliminate Use Of Kerosene


Urging for more collaboration between government and similar private and civil society organisations in addressing issues related to the welfare of children, and girl-child education, among others, the VP further stated that “it is important that the private sector and civil society organisations such as yours, focused on women, participate more actively in developing policies because you are right there, so it is important to collaborate more.”

The Vice President also mentioned the proposed 35 per cent affirmative action for women to be given elective and appointive positions in government, noting that “there is a need for women to be properly recognized and given the rights in society.”

Prof. Osinbajo highlighted the work being done by the At-Risk Children Programme, ARC-P, a Federal Government led initiative in addressing the challenges faced by the vulnerable in society, especially children and young people, nationwide.

(The ARC-P is led by Mrs Maryam Uwais, the Special Adviser to the President on Social Investments.)

In her remarks, the President of Jam’iyyar Matan Arewa and leader of the delegation, Hajiya Rabi Musa Saulawa, said the association of Northern women embraces all women in the Northern region regardless of their tribal and religious differences.

She added that it was founded in 1963 to unite Northern women and improve their standard of living socially and economically, and has branches in all the 19 Northern States and the FCT.

Appreciating the VP for his dedication and commitment to humanitarian causes such as the orphans in the North-East, Hajiya Saulawa said, “this is the kind of leadership our nation deserves, where region, tribe or religion does not dictate the direction of government policies and initiatives. It is as a result of this commitment and dedication that Jam’iyyar Matan Arewa, an institution that looks after orphans, has also decided to honour His Excellency with the JMA humanitarian award.”

While also acknowledging the humanitarian work of the wife of the Vice President, Hajiya Saulawa prayed for God’s blessings on the VP and his family.

“Your Excellency, Northern women and children are indebted to you for taking care of our children. All we can do is to pray for you that the Almighty God will bless you and your family abundantly,” she added.

Insurer Awards $5.2m To US Woman Who Contracted STD In Car

CBN Plans $100m Sale At Special Auction
US dollar notes.

 

A US woman who contracted a sexually transmitted disease from her partner during romantic encounters in his car has been awarded $5.2 million in damages from his vehicle insurance company.

The woman in the state of Missouri successfully claimed her partner had negligently infected her with HPV, and that his policy covered her for “injuries and losses.”

Referred to in court documents only as M.O., the woman had requested an award of $9.9 million before an arbitrator determined a sum of $5.2 million would cover her “damages and injuries.”

“Insured should have disclosed his diagnosis to M.O. prior to the sexual activity that occurred, but he did not,” found the arbitrator.

READ ALSOChina Will ‘Not Hesitate To Start War’ Over Taiwan, Beijing Tells US

GEICO, the insurer, had rejected the woman’s initial settlement offer, and last year contested the award, but it was upheld by the Missouri Court of Appeals this week.

Human papillomavirus (HPV) is one of the most common sexually transmitted infections in the United States, and high-risk strains can cause cancer. There is a vaccine against it.

In her initial settlement offer, the woman said she had contracted HPV during unprotected sexual encounters in her partner’s vehicle in late 2017 despite him “having knowledge of his condition.”

The arbitrator found that her partner had “been told that his throat cancer tumor was diagnosed as HPV positive.”

The woman requested compensation for “past and future medical expenses,” as well as “past and future mental and physical pain and suffering.”

Reports of the ruling quickly went viral on social media, prompting humor as well as outrage.

“Crazy damages claims like this are a big part of why car insurance costs so much,” tweeted Elon Musk.

“It should be possible to sue law firms for pursuing insane damages claims.”

AFP

Taliban Order Afghan Women To Wear All-Covering Burqa


An Afghan burqa-clad woman walks with a child in Kabul on April 28, 2022.
Wakil KOHSAR / AFP

 

The Taliban on Saturday imposed one of the harshest restrictions on Afghanistan’s women since seizing power, ordering them to wear the all-covering burqa in public.

The militants took back control of the country in August last year, promising a softer rule than their last stint in power between 1996 and 2001, which was dominated by human rights abuses.

But they have already imposed a slew of restrictions on women — banning them from many government jobs, secondary education, and from travelling alone outside their cities or Afghanistan.

On Saturday, Afghanistan’s supreme leader and Taliban chief Hibatullah Akhundzada announced a strict dress code for women when they are in public.

READ ALSOBiden Appoints First Black White House Press Secretary

“They should wear a chadori (head-to-toe burqa) as it is traditional and respectful,” said a decree in his name released by Taliban authorities at a ceremony in Kabul.

“Those women who are not too old or young must cover their face, except the eyes, as per sharia directives, in order to avoid provocation when meeting men who are not mahram (adult close male relatives),” it said.

The order was expected to spark a flurry of condemnation abroad. Many in the international community want humanitarian aid for Afghanistan and recognition of the Taliban government to be linked to the restoration of women’s rights.

Akhundzada’s decree also said that if women had no important work outside it was “better they stay at home”.

During their first regime, the Taliban had made the burqa compulsory for women.

Since their return to power, their feared Ministry for Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice has issued several “guidelines” on what women should wear but Saturday’s edict was the first such national order.

The hardline Islamists triggered an international outrage in March when they ordered secondary schools for girls to shut, just hours after reopening for the first time since they seized power.

Officials have never justified the ban, apart from saying the education of girls must be according to “Islamic principles”.

That ban was also issued by Akhundzada, according to several Taliban officials.

Women have also been ordered to visit parks in the capital on separate days from men.

Some Afghan women initially pushed back strongly, holding small demonstrations and protests where they demanded the right to education and work.

But the Taliban cracked down on these unsanctioned rallies and rounded up several of the ringleaders, holding them incommunicado while denying they had been detained.

In the 20 years between the Taliban’s two reigns, girls were allowed to go to school and women were able to seek employment in all sectors, though the country remained socially conservative.

In a deeply conservative and patriarchal Afghanistan, many women already wear the burqa in rural areas.

AFP

My Agenda For Women If Elected President In 2023 – Fayemi

A file photo of Ekiti State Governor, Kayode Fayemi, during an interview on Channels Television’s Hard Copy.

 

Ekiti State Governor, Dr Kayode Fayemi, has outlined his agenda for women in the country if elected as the next President of Nigeria.

Ahead of the general elections, the governor officially declared to join the race to succeed President Muhammadu Buhari after the polls next year on Wednesday at an event in Abuja.

He will be contesting for the presidential ticket of the All Progressives Congress (APC) alongside some bigwigs within the ruling party who are also eyeing the highest office of the land.

Governor Fayemi outlined some of the efforts of his administration to improve the lives of women and girls and to promote female participation in Ekiti State, saying he would replicate same and even more should he win his presidential bid.

“What will be my agenda for women? I think the best way to judge my agenda for women is to look at what I have done in my almost eight years as governor, and in my capacity as Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF), coordinating the activities of my brother governors in the 36 states,” he said during a question-and-answer session at the event.

“Well, in Ekiti State, women have attained the pride of place, and we have done that through a range of measures – law, policies, and programmes. In my first term, we had a law in place to address a matter that was really very fundamental to all of us, but particularly to women; sexual and gender-based violence in our society and we were the first state to have a register of convicts on gender-based violence.”

READ ALSO: Fayemi Officially Joins 2023 Presidential Race

 

‘First Female Governor’

According to the governor, Ekiti went a step further when he returned for his second term in office by starting a ‘name and shame policy’ for those involved in sexual and gender-based violence.

“It is not enough for you to be convicted by a law court for gender-based violence; because our people are more concerned about the shame done to them within their communities than simple conviction in a law court, we name and shame those who have been convicted and put this information right around their communities.

“And when you know the way a typical Ekiti community is and the pride with which we exude, character and integrity, that is something that has activated moral suasion, not just legal punishment,” he said.

Beyond that, Governor Fayemi explained that his administration took further steps against female genital mutilation, including the signed of the Violence Against Persons Prohibition (VAPP) Act.

He revealed that the NGF declared an emergency against sexual and gender-based violence in all the 36 states of the country on June 20, 2020.

At the time, the governor said only 14 states had signed up to the VAPP Act while the number has increased to 30 as of May 2022.

“In Ekiti State, the parliamentary worked with us and passed the law granting 35 per cent positions – both appointment and elective; that’s a tough call in politics,” he said of women’s participation in governance.

“It’s still not where we want to be, but it is a significant step if you consider the difficulty our national parliament has had in putting the same law in place. My successor in office, by God’s grace, is going to have a female deputy governor. So, we are on our way to having the first governor in Nigeria who is female in Ekiti State.”

Court Orders FG To Comply With 35% Affirmative Action For Women

 

The Federal High Court in Abuja has ordered the government to comply with the 35% affirmative action for women, which allows women occupy 35% of all appointments.

Delivering judgement on Wednesday, Justice Donatus Okorowo, said the Federal Government had the obligation to implement the 35 per cent affirmative action, accusing past governments of acting in breach of international treaties on women participation in government.

Read Also: Male Lawmakers Against Gender Bills Have No Respect For Women – Minister

Justice Okorowo added that the National Gender Policy is not merely a policy statement, but one that must be backed with requisite action on the part of the government.

He said the 35% affirmative action which entails appointive positions for women to ensure inclusivity must not be merely on paper as Nigeria is a signatory to international treaties, particularly on those entrenching the rights of women.

Women protesting. Photos: Sodiq Adelakun

 

Reacting to the judgement, the Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian Women Trust Fund, Mufuliat Fijabi said: “For us, this is a victory and we know that the government will acknowledge this and do the needful in terms of ensuring that we have a balanced system of governance that will bring about fast development for the country”.

This marks a step closer to victory for women who had been pushing against the rejection of gender-related bills by lawmakers in the ongoing constitution review process.

One of the bills titled ‘Act to Alter the Provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 to Provide for Special Seat for Women in the National and State Houses of Assembly; and for Related Matters’, failed after 208 members out of 290 present, voted against it in March

Since then, various women groups occupied the gate of the National Assembly in protest against the rejection.

 

Women protesters celebrate after the House of Representatives agreed to review the rejected bills following days of protests at the gate of the National Assembly in Abuja.

 

They demanded that the Federal lawmakers take another look at the requests for 111 seats for women, citizenship, 35% representation in party leadership, more appointive positions in government, and vote in favour of the amendments.

After days of incessant protests, the leadership of House of Representatives promised to review and revisit the bills. In response, the women agreed to suspend their protest for a week.

FIFA Urged To Eject Iran From World Cup Over Women Stadium Ban

The FIFA World Cup trophy and the official 2022 World Cup ball called Al-Rihla, which means “the journey” in Arabic, are seen on stage during the draw for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar at the Doha Exhibition and Convention Center on April 1, 2022. (Photo by KARIM JAAFAR / AFP)

 

FIFA on Friday faced calls to sanction Iran and even throw its team out of the 2022 World Cup finals over the Islamic republic’s renewed failure to allow women to attend an international football match.

Iranian news agencies this week confirmed that 2,000 women who had bought tickets for Tuesday’s World Cup qualifier against Lebanon in the northeastern city of Mashhad could not enter the stadium.

Activists based outside Iran accused the authorities of using pepper spray at close range to disperse women who then protested the ban outside the venue.

READ ALSO: Eriksen-Inspired Brentford Thrash Chelsea 4-1

The United for Navid group of exiled Iranian athletes and activists, set up after the execution of wrestling champion Navid Afkari in September 2020, said Iran should be suspended from international football until it changes its stance.

“We formally request that FIFA immediately suspend Iran and prohibit its participation in the World Cup 2022 as long as the Football Federation of Iran continues to violate the Olympic Charter and FIFA regulations,” it said in a letter to FIFA’s deputy secretary general Mattias Grafstrom.

In the letter, a copy of which was obtained by AFP Friday, it said that Iran had pledged to FIFA that it would end its policy of “gender apartheid” by allowing women to attend matches.

“But not only has Iran broken that promise by continuing to bar women from entering a stadium but women are beaten, abused and threatened,” it added.

United for Navid said Iran “continues to ignore” FIFA’s requests to show “basic adherence” to human rights.

‘Long Overdue’ 

Human Rights Watch meanwhile urged FIFA to demand that Iran urgently overturn the “discriminatory” stadium ban on women and ensure accountability for abuses.

“Given the Iranian authorities’ longstanding violations, FIFA needs to follow its own global guidelines on nondiscrimination and should consider enforcing penalties for Iran’s noncompliance,” Tara Sepehri Far, HRW’s senior Iran researcher, said in a statement.

The New York-based NGO said that under FIFA’s statutes discrimination on the basis of gender is “strictly prohibited and punishable by suspension or expulsion”.

“It is long overdue for FIFA to demonstrate that it is serious in enforcing transparent accountability measures,” said Sepehri Far.

There was considerable criticism from within Iran over the lockout, including from Iran’s team captain Alireza Jahanbakhsh, and Mashhad’s governor apologised.

President Ebrahim Raisi on Wednesday instructed the interior ministry to look into the incident.

In January, women were allowed to attend an international for the first time in almost three years, for a World Cup qualifier against Iraq that also saw the Team Melli win its place for the finals in Qatar, the draw for which was taking place on Friday.

A FIFA spokesperson told AFP on Wednesday that it had learned with “concern” of the reports of women being barred after “historic progress” exemplified by the January 2021 match.

“FIFA expects this to continue, as there can be no turning back.”

Pressure on Iran to act had increased since the death in 2019 of female fan Sahar Khodayari — known as the “blue girl” after the colours of her favourite Tehran team Esteghlal — who set herself on fire in fear of being jailed after trying to attend a match in disguise.

Navid Afkari, a 27-year-old wrestler who had won national competitions, was hanged in September 2020 in the southern city of Shiraz after being convicted of committing murder during protests that rocked the city two years before.

He had complained of being tortured into confessing, with methods that included beating and having alcohol squirted up his nose.

AFP

Taliban Ban Afghan Women Flying Alone 

In this file photo taken on January 16, 2022, Afghan women chant slogans and hold banners during a women’s rights protest march in Kabul.  Wakil KOHSAR / AFP

 

The Taliban have ordered airlines in Afghanistan to stop women from flying unless accompanied by a male relative, in the latest crackdown on basic human rights by the country’s new rulers since seizing power.

The hardline Islamists have imposed sweeping restrictions on freedoms, mostly targeting Afghan girls and women, and on Sunday also ordered local television channels to stop broadcasting BBC news bulletins.

Over the weekend, they also decreed that men and women could not visit parks in the capital on the same days.

After returning to power in August the Taliban promised a softer version of the harsh rule that characterised their first stint in power, from 1996 to 2001, but restrictions have crept back — often implemented regionally at the whim of local officials.

Women are increasingly being shut out of public life — barred from high schools and most government jobs, and ordered to dress according to the Taliban’s strict interpretation of the Koran.

READ ALSO: Iraq Fails Again To Elect New President

In their latest crackdown, the Taliban ordered Afghanistan’s Ariana Afghan Airlines and Kam Air to stop women from boarding flights unless they were escorted by a “mahram”, or adult male relative.

The decision was taken after a meeting on Thursday between representatives of the Taliban, the two airlines, and Kabul airport immigration authorities, aviation officials told AFP.

“No women are allowed to fly on any domestic or international flights without a male relative,” said a letter by a senior Ariana official to his staff, a copy of which was obtained by AFP.

A spokesman for the Taliban’s religious enforcers, the Ministry for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, denied ordering the flight ban, but two travel agents told AFP they had stopped issuing tickets to solo women travellers.

‘God’s Order’ 

The edict was not expected to affect foreigners, although aviation officials reported that an Afghan woman with a US passport was prevented from flying last week.

“Some women who were travelling without a male relative were not allowed to board a Kam Air flight from Kabul to Islamabad on Friday,” a passenger on the flight told AFP.

The Taliban have already banned inter-city road trips for women travelling alone.

The flight ban came as the vice ministry ordered that men and women should not visit parks in Kabul on the same days.

Women are now permitted to visit parks only on Sundays, Mondays and Tuesdays, while the remaining days are reserved for men, a ministry notification said.

“It is not the Islamic Emirate’s order but our God’s order that men and women who are strangers to each other should not gather at one place,” Mohammad Yahya Aref, an official at the vice ministry, told AFP.

The new restriction on women follows Wednesday’s shutdown of all girls’ secondary schools just hours after they were allowed to reopen for the first time since August.

Tens of thousands of girls had flocked back to class, but officials ordered them home just hours into the day, triggering international outrage.

Taliban sources said that the decision was taken after a closed-door meeting of the movement’s leaders last week in Kandahar, the de facto power centre of the group.

 ‘Screws Tightening’ 

Several Afghan women activists have warned of nationwide protests if the schools were not open within a week.

Heather Barr, Human Rights Watch associate director for women’s rights, said the latest restrictions were “scary”.

“We see the screws tightening on women and girls every day now,” she said.

“They have abandoned — at least for now — any effort to reach an accommodation with the international community, and that leaves them with nothing to lose.”

The Taliban appear to have also set their sights on local media networks, which flourished under the previous US-backed regimes.

On Monday, Taliban intelligence agents raided four radio stations in Kandahar and detained six journalists, sources said.

The raids come a day after the authorities ordered the BBC’s television partners in Afghanistan to stop broadcasting its news bulletins.

“Since the foreign TV channels are broadcast from abroad, the Islamic Emirate has no access to control their contents, especially when it comes to journalists’ uniforms and dresses,” government spokesman Inamullah Samangani told AFP.

The Taliban have already ordered women journalists working in Afghan television networks to wear hijabs, and stopped channels from broadcasting foreign dramas.

AFP

IWD 2022: President Buhari Extols Nigerian Women

File photo of President Muhammadu Buhari with some APC women leaders at the State House in Abuja.

 

President Muhammadu Buhari has extolled Nigerian women in celebration of International Women’s Day, March 8, 2022.

The year’s celebration which is themed Gender Equality Today for a Sustainable Tomorrow is under the hashtag #BreaktheBias.

In a statement signed on Tuesday by presidential spokesperson Femi Adesina, President Buhari said the celebration is an opportunity to reflect on the vital roles women play in society, homes, governance, the professions, and in all walks of life.

READ ALSO: Restoring Displaced Nigerians In Northeast Is An Urgent Assignment – Osinbajo

He added that women are not where they should be yet in different spheres of endeavor, but believes that they can no longer be deprived for too long, as they consistently prove that they can hold their own on all fronts, and in all fields.

“The President rejoices with women and mothers, around whom the tranquility of homes and society revolves, praying God to grant them peace, joy and satisfaction, as they celebrate today and always,” the statement added.

He applauded the contributions of women to the current administration as Ministers, Special Advisers, Senior Special Assistants, Executive Directors, Executive Secretaries, and many others, noting that they are pulling their weights, and making it impossible for anyone to downplay their essence.

Governors Have Pocketed State Assemblies, May Determine Constitution Amendment Outcome, Says Baba-Ahmed

Spokesman of the Northern Elders Forum, Hakeem Baba-Ahmed.

 

Spokesperson of the Northern Elders Forum, Dr Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, has called for caution over the Constitution amendment exercise at the National Assembly, warning that governors may selfishly alter the process.

The elder statesman spoke about the ongoing exercise on Wednesday during an appearance on Politics Today, a day after lawmakers voted on more than 60 proposed amendments to the 1999 Constitution.

Tuesday’s vote has generated controversy and debates with some praising some of the endorsed amendments including local government autonomy and others blasting the lawmakers for rejecting some proposed proposed amendments especially all those aimed at improving the lot of women in politics and governance.

Read Also: ‘No Sincerity In Constitution Amendment’: Adebanjo Insists 1999 Constitution Must Be Replaced

 

“We need to be careful,” Dr Baba-Ahmed said. “This is a process that we haven’t seen the end of. I am afraid, particularly going by recent experience in the 8th Senate, it is too early to even pass a verdict on even those things that you might think represent progress, retrogression or indifference or just pure crass selfishness.”

He expects that this ‘crass selfishness’ will be on full display when the amendments are sent to state assemblies for ratification and some of the amendments okayed by the National Assembly, which have been praised, can get rejected, further reducing the positives from the exercise.

“These amendments have to go to state assemblies and that is when you see just how powerful governors are,” Dr Baba-Ahmed said. “That’s where you see some of the defects in the Constitution; not so much in the Constitution, but in the way the political process works against the wish of the Constitution.

“Because governors have literally pocketed legislators at state level, what is likely to come out is that 95% of what the legislators will agree will be what governors want.”

Baba-Ahmed is cautious because he has seen a similar process before and it did not yield the result he expected.

“This is what we saw in the last Senate. A lot of the amendments that you’ve seen debated yesterday, assented to yesterday (Tuesday) or rejected, we saw in the last Senate,” he said.

‘The most ridiculous thing’

Baba-Ahmed traced the problem to the Nigerian Constitution and the democratic system being used in the country.

“We are running a democracy that is working for those who wield power rather than the people who put them in place,” he said.

In trying to consolidate their grip in power, there have been instances where amendments widely expected to strenghten the country’s democracy and governance have been rejected.

Baba-Ahmed shared an instance of such a scenario.

He said, “The bottom line is that the people who will have the final say, if it is the state assemblies, are likely to say what the governors want to see, including rejecting clauses that give them powers.

“This is the most ridiculous thing. In the 8th Senate, an amendment went through the two chambers of the National Assembly, an amendment that would have given them direct access to their resources, and what came back from the state assemblies was rejection.

“So, the flaw in our Constitution is that it designs a democratic system that is actually the hostage of a political process that works only for the led. Our democracy is a government of the powerful for the powerful by the powerful. Nigerians have very little say.”

Male Lawmakers Against Gender Bills Have No Respect For Women – Minister

 

The Minister of Women Affairs, Pauline Tallen, says male lawmakers who voted against gender bills seeking to amend the constitution have no regard for women.

She said this on Wednesday after the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting in Abuja.

“It clearly shows that the men that were against the bill don’t have any respect for women; it’s clear. But I am not generalising; not all the men in the national assembly. We have the figures — 72 men in the House of Representatives voted in support of the bill,” Tallen said.

Read Also: Failed Bills: Women Groups Storm NASS Gate In Protest

According to her, Nigerian women are already strategising on the next line of action.

On Tuesday, the lawmakers had voted against bills seeking to promote more opportunities for women in political parties and governance.

One of the bills titled ‘Act to Alter the Provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 to Provide for Special Seat for Women in the National and State Houses of Assembly; and for Related Matters,’ failed after 208 members out of 290 present, voted against it.

Tallen who was present at the plenary session on Tuesday, had described the development as a show of shame.

Wife of the Vice President, Dolapo Osinbajo, who was also in attendance, said she remains hopeful that it is not the end of the agitation for women inclusion.

By Wednesday morning, more women joined their voices to express their displeasure with the development.

Women protesting against the failure of the gender bills.

 

Various women groups occupied the gate of the National Assembly in protest against the rejection of the bills.

The groups demanded that the Federal lawmakers take another look at the requests for 111 seats for women, citizenship, 35% representation in party leadership, more appointive positions in government, and vote in favour of these amendments.

The groups include the United Nations Population Fund (UNPF), Federation of Muslim Women Association (FOMWA), Women Organisation for Change in Agriculture and Natural Resource Management (WOCAN), Association of Women in the Arts (AWITA), Women In Business (WIMBIZ), Action Aid, Yiaga Africa, the Islamic Youth League, among others.

How Taliban’s Return Has Changed Afghan Women’s Lives

Women hold placards during a protest in Kabul on October 26, 2021, calling for the international community to speak out in support of Afghans living under Taliban rule. (Photo by James EDGAR / AFP)

 

After seizing control of Afghanistan in August 2021 the Taliban promised a softer version of the harsh rule that characterised their first stint in power when women were stripped of most of their rights.

This time around the movement has largely refrained from issuing rigid national edicts, but authorities at a provincial level have introduced rules and guidelines dictating how women should live.

READ ALSOAfghan Universities Reopen With Trickle Of Women Attending

Here are some areas of women’s lives impacted by the Taliban’s return:

Employment

The Taliban say they allow women to work as long as they are segregated from men.

In practice, however, women are effectively barred from employment — particularly for the government — apart from in specialised sectors such as health care and education.

Even women working in the private sector complain of being harassed going to and from their offices, while Taliban intelligence operatives frequently visit commercial enterprises to make sure strict segregation is enforced.

In some places, however, small women-only cooperatives have been able to continue — such as a jasmine processing facility in the ancient western city of Herat, long considered liberal by Afghan standards.

Still, tens of thousands of Afghan women have been made jobless by the Taliban’s return, overturning two decades of progress in diversifying all aspects of their employment — from the police to courts.

Education 

The Taliban say all girls are entitled to an education, but the majority of secondary schools at least — for those aged from 13 to 18 — have not reopened since August.

Officials now say education for all will resume by the end of March, but an exodus of teachers and a ban on men leading classes for girls means it will be difficult for them to meet that target.

Most private universities have resumed, also while suffering a teacher shortage. But classes must be segregated by sex and there can be no mingling of men and women between lessons.

Some government universities resumed under similar constraints last week, but there was only a trickle of attendance by women at most facilities.

 Personal Freedoms 

During their first stint in power, the Taliban made it compulsory for women to wear an all-covering burqa in public, and agents of the feared Ministry for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice would lash anyone caught without.

The ministry put up posters across Kabul last month “suggesting” women should at least wear the less restrictive hijab or headscarf — but the message was accompanied by pictures of the burqa.

An order was also issued saying women could not travel between cities and towns unless accompanied by a male relative, and taxi drivers were told not to pick up female passengers unless they wore head coverings.

Beauty parlours and fashion boutiques were booming before the Taliban’s return, but they have largely disappeared.

Meanwhile, shop mannequins have been beheaded in Herat and billboards featuring the human form taken down because they are deemed un-Islamic.

 Sport And Culture 

Television channels have been ordered to stop showing dramas and soap operas featuring women actors, while female journalists must wear a hijab in front of cameras.

A senior Taliban official has said it is “unnecessary” for women to play sport, but they have been wary of formalising that philosophy because funding from the organisations that govern world sport — including football and cricket — depends on allowing all sexes to play.

Many of the country’s leading singers, musicians, artists, and photographers have fled since the Taliban’s return, while those who couldn’t escape have gone into hiding or are keeping a very low profile.

AFP

Nigeria Accounts For Third-Highest Number Of Female Genital Mutilation – UNICEF

 

The United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) has lamented over the rising cases of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) in Nigeria.

According to the international agency, Nigeria accounts for the third-highest global number of FGM with a ‘worrying trend’ which has risen from 16.9 percent in 2013 to 19.2 percent.

UNICEF Representative in Nigeria, Peter Hawkins said this in a statement released on Sunday in commemoration of the International Day of Zero Tolerance of FGM.

“Female genital mutilation (FGM) remains widespread in Nigeria. With an estimated 19.9 million survivors, Nigeria accounts for the third-highest number of women and girls who have undergone FGM worldwide.

“While the national prevalence of FGM among women in Nigeria aged 15-49 dropped from 25 percent in 2013 to 20 percent in 2018 it increased from 16.9 percent to 19.2 percent in the same period,” Hawkins said.

READ ALSO: Nigeria Governors’ Wives Forum Backs NDLEA, Seeks Partnership On Drug War

He stressed that the case is prevalent among Nigerian girls aged 0-14 and an estimated 86 percent of females were cut before the age of 5, while 8 percent were cut between ages 5 and 14.

Hawkins added that millions of girls are being robbed of their childhoods, health, education, and aspirations every day by harmful practices such as FGM.

“The practice of FGM not only has no health benefits – it is deeply harmful to girls and women, both physically and psychologically. It is a practice that has no place in our society today and must be ended, as many Nigerian communities have already pledged to do.”

He further explained, “State prevalence ranges from 62 percent in Imo to less than 1 percent in Adamawa and Gombe. The prevalence of FGM is highest in the South East (35 percent) and South West (30 percent) and lowest in the North East (6 percent).”

To end the menace, he said, “UNICEF is initiating a community-led movement to eliminate FGM in five Nigerian states where it is highly prevalent: Ebonyi, Ekiti, Imo, Osun and Oyo.

According to him, nearly three million girls and women would have undergone FGM in these states in the last five years.

The UNICEF in response to the alarming rate of FGM cases in Nigeria has created a movement called – “The Movement for Good.” It is aimed to reach five million adolescent girls and boys, women – including especially pregnant and lactating mothers – men, grandparents, and traditional, community and religious leaders, legislators, justice sector actors, and state officials through an online pledge to ‘say no’ to FGM.

 

 

Hawkins said the movement will mobilize affected communities for concrete action at the household level to protect girls at risk of FGM.

It will challenge misconceptions on FGM and the discriminatory reasons it is practiced and break the silence around the practice together with communities.

The International Day of Zero Tolerance for FGM is celebrated to accelerate efforts – especially with families and communities – to achieve a Nigeria safe for girls and women and finally free of FGM.