‘’…there have been policy and practical measures put in place to increase the meaningful participation of women and enhance gender-responsiveness of security sector institutions” – Honourable Minister of Women Affairs, Dame Pauline K. Tallen
The Federal Ministry of Women Affairs (FMWA) with the technical support of UN Women, yesterday inaugurated the country’s first Security Sector Gender Reference Group.
The launch forms part of a larger intervention by UN Women, funded by the Government of Germany, to support efforts by the Government of Nigeria to enhance gender balance and gender responsiveness of security sector institutions in furtherance of its international, regional, and national commitments, in particular United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325.
The project titled, ”Enhancing Gender-Responsive Security Operations and Community Dialogue on Gender Responsive Security Sector Reform” aims to support key security sector institutions to integrate gender in their policies and operations ; and improve community-security relations through enhanced collaboration between conflict affected women and women’s organizations with security sector institutions and personnel..
Speaking at the launch, Honourable Minister of Women Affairs, Dame Pauline K. Tallen noted that ‘’there have been policy and practical measures put in place to increase the meaningful participation of women and enhance gender-responsiveness of security sector institutions. However, progress has been uneven and low across and within the various security institutions, and largely pursued in a piecemeal way rather than under a comprehensive framework.’’
She stressed that ‘’inclusive, responsive, and accountable security sector institutions and personnel, are particularly significant in the context of Nigeria where security personnel are engaged in multiple conflict fronts and operations alongside regular law and order functions, which cannot be overstated for the protection of women and girls.’’
Nevertheless, there is currently no inter-agency, multi-stakeholder platform that brings together the range of security sector institutions and actors to review current policy and practice, exchange experiences and lessons, provide peer-support, undertake joint initiatives, and harness the expertise of experts from various government and nongovernmental institutions-highlighting the urgency and relevance of a Reference Group to fill this critical gap.
In attendance at the inauguration were the Honourable Minister of Women Affairs, Dame Pauline K. Tallen; UN Women Representative to Nigeria and ECOWAS, Ms. Comfort Lamptey; Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany to the Federal Republic of Nigeria and ECOWAS, Birgitt Ory; senior personnel from security sector agencies, civil society experts, and other stakeholders.
Ms. Comfort Lamptey, UN Women Representative to Nigeria and ECOWAS emphasized the timeliness of the establishment of the Reference Group, as we mark key anniversaries for women’s rights in peace and security this year: the 25th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action and the 20th anniversary of the UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security’’ said Ms. Comfort Lamptey, UN Women Representative to Nigeria and ECOWAS.
She moreover stressed that ‘’the recent declaration of the State of Emergency on gender-based violence in Nigeria, against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic, also shines a spotlight on the high-levels of violence against women in Nigeria, including in conflict contexts, and the unique roles and responsibilities that the security sector has to play in protecting women and girls from violence’’.
In this respect, she commended the strong leadership of the Ministry of Women’s Affairs in leading on efforts to advance the Women, Peace and Security Agenda, including through its partnership with UN Women in launching this Reference Group.
Ms. Birgitt Ory, Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany to the Federal Republic of Nigeria and ECOWAS emphasized that as a ‘’current non-permanent member of the UN Security Council, Germany attaches vital importance on implementing UNSC-resolution 1325 worldwide and thus in Nigeria, the cooperation with key partners implementing Resolution 1325 is a priority for our political work at the German Embassy in Abuja.’’
The Reference Group, which will be comprised of representatives of core security agencies and affiliated institutions, oversight agencies, security sector focused CSOs, and independent security experts will be convened and chaired quarterly by the Federal Ministry of Women Affairs, with the technical support of UN Women. Among other tasks, it will support enhanced civil-security relations; ensure implementation of gender policies where they exist; identify policy and programming gaps as they relate to gender responsive security sector; lead efforts towards the development and adoption of gender policies; and facilitate intra-agency mentoring, exchange, and lessons learning.
Drawing attention to the designation of 2020 as the Call to Action for Nigerian Children and Women, Dame Tallen urged all to work collectively to tackle the challenges facing the country from all levels to create a Nigeria that is safe, by building systems that are inclusive, responsive, and sustainable.