After eight years of passing the Domestic Violence Against Persons Prohibition Act on a federal level, Lagos and Kano states are the only states yet to sign the bill,” Biola Akioyede Afolabi, a human rights activist has said.
In 2015, Nigeria took a significant step towards protecting women’s rights by enacting the Violence Against Persons Prohibition Act. The legislation was aimed at combating all forms of violence against women, including physical, sexual, emotional, and economic abuse. The piece of legislation represented a beacon of hope for countless women in Nigeria, a country where gender inequality remains a pervasive issue.
At a recent Women in Management, Business and Public Service (WIMBIZ) conference, themed ‘Mission I’mpossible: Thrive’, Afolabi, a vocal champion for gender equality in Nigeria highlighted the persistent challenges faced by Nigerian women in achieving equal rights and opportunities.
Despite the federal-level passage of the Domestic Violence Against Persons Prohibition Act, its implementation at the state level has been uneven. While 34 out of 36 Nigerian states have adopted the law, two of the largest states by commerce and population – Lagos and Kano – have yet to sign it into effect.
QThis delay has raised concerns among activists and advocates who worry that the lack of implementation in these populous states could jeopardize the effectiveness of the VAW Bill nationwide.
“We were able to pass the Violence Against Persons Prohibition Act in 2015, knowing Nigeria is a federal state meaning the federal Act is only applicable to the FCT. We knew other states had to pass it again, so we went round to all the states and became friends with Nigeria’s Governors Wives Forum to assist us, now we can confidently say 34 states out of the 36 states have passed the Act. We are waiting for Lagos and Kano, Lagos has the Domestic Violence Prohibition law so we hope Lagos has more that is more comprehensive,” Afolabi said.
She said Lagos has started the process of expanding what they have and has done quite a lot so they should not be left behind.
The Bill is a comprehensive piece of legislation that would address all forms of violence against women. It includes provisions for the prevention, prosecution, and punishment of violence against women. It also provides for the protection and support of victims of violence against women.
One of the issues Afolabi addressed was the constitutional provision that prevents Nigerian women from granting citizenship to their foreign spouses. This restriction, she argued, is a significant barrier to women’s autonomy and their ability to engage fully in global society.
Afolabi also drew attention to the stark underrepresentation of women in the Nigerian National Assembly. Despite constituting over half of the population, women hold a mere fraction of seats in the legislative body. This disparity, she emphasized, reflects the deeply entrenched gender imbalances that continue to hinder women’s political participation and influence.
“We submitted 14 areas of the constitution that we are interested in and we wanted to change, the National Assembly took only five and they became the gender bills,” Afolabi said.
She said that the National Assembly gave the assurance that the constitution would be changed.
The five gender-centric bills sent to the House of the National Assembly last year were proposals that seek to alter the Constitution including Bills 35, 36, 37, 38 & 68 to wit.
Bill to “provide for a special seat for women in the National and State Assembly”, Bill to “expand the scope of citizenship by registration, Bill to “provide for affirmative action for women in political party administration, Bill to “provide criteria for qualification to become an indigene of a state in Nigeria, and Bill to “give women a quota in the federal and state executive councils or ministerial and commissionership seats.”
Hansatu Adegbite, executive director WIMBIZ speaking at the conference said with the current state of things around the world women are faced with more challenges so the theme of the conference ‘Mission I’mpossible: Thrive’, was important.
“We cannot deny the fact that there have been a lot of challenges even to organisations, businesses, and women in whatever profession they are in. It is therefore important for us to constantly reignite women who carry seeds inside of them that still need to be activated for greatness.
“With seeds, all that is needed is something to activate them, to produce fruits. So, I want to urge women to develop a resilient spirit and maintain a positive mindset. Let that seed in you be activated, and let your path to greatness be a step at a time; and one day, your story will be heard,” Adegbite said.