Leading up to International Women’s Day on March 8, WILPF will be publishing a series of articles spotlighting some of the efforts of our member groups to create a more sustainable, peaceful future for women around the world. Follow these publications and support International Women’s Day by sharing with the hashtag #IWD2018.

Nathalie Wokam Foko (on the left) from WILPF Cameroon, Isi Ikhimiukor and Dorothy Njemanze, in the middle, from WILPF Nigeria and Heidi Meinzolt (on the right) from WILPF Germany

This past year, the WILPF Nigeria member group rallied to concretely affect the trajectory of women’s rights in their country. As International Women’s Day is celebrated around the world on March 8, it is important to galvanise behind those groups that are working to bring women’s rights to all women.

The Committee on the Elimination of Violence Against Women (CEDAW) conducted a review in July 2017 in Nigeria to evaluate the implementation record of women security initiatives as described under the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women. To push for concrete efforts to create feminist peace in Nigeria, WILPF Nigeria, along with seven other peace organisations, submitted a joint shadow report to CEDAW in order to provide clarity and recommendations to the committee.

Their comprehensive review included specific recommendations under the umbrella areas of women in political and public life, rural women, and education. Their commitment and contributions to this comprehensive report were key in imparting a sense of urgency to CEDAW on the status of women’s rights in Nigeria.

Two outstanding women, Isi Ikhimiukor and Dorothy Njemanze networked and presented the report at the formal committee session and at two additional informal meetings. They imparted their expertise on women’s rights in Nigeria during their expositions, speaking passionately on the herdsman crisis, National Action Plan funding shortfalls, the proliferation of arms, universal human rights, police violence, and the inaccessibility to legal services.

Deeply committed to feminist peace, WILPF Nigeria has long fought for proper implementation of the Women, Peace and Security Agenda in their community, and their efforts in this instance were simply another step forward in this ever-present undertaking.

Ikhimiukor and Njemanze provided vital context on the realities of gender-based violence in Nigeria, presenting stark evidence on HIV-infection levels, pregnancy and health complications, food insecurity, displacement, domestic violence, inheritance laws, poverty, and agriculture investment.

Workshop in June held by WILPF Nigeria to validate the shadow report before formal presentation in July.

Operating deftly in a diplomatic setting, where advice is often vague and muddled by political motivations, WILPF Nigeria provided clear and feasible recommendations to the committee. Among other programmes, the women called for clarification in the constitution of primary education requirements for girls, including the enforcement of legal ramifications for school systems who fail to comply with minimum equality measures. They called for the establishment of family planning services for rural women and the abolishment of discriminatory inheritance laws.

WILPF Nigeria also stressed the importance of funding for the Women, Peace and Security agenda in Nigeria. Their contributions to the session were invaluable to the progression of feminist peace in the country, and from the initial steps of information-gathering, to compiling and analysing the data, to conceiving effective remedies, to presenting all these elements at the session, the WILPF Nigeria women took up the mantle of feminist peace. The process in itself was a demonstration of the effectiveness of feminist collaboration, and their efforts will be felt widely. For International Women’s Day, we thank WILPF Nigeria for their tirelessness in fostering peace in their community.