Nine Questions for Politicians about Women

  1. What do you think should be done to reduce the incidence of maternal mortality in Nigeria from the current level of 814 women per 100,000 live births
    Maternal mortality can be reduced by increased access to maternal healthcare (that is, antenatal, natal and postnatal healthcare) mostly in rural areas and suburban areas where access to healthcare In general is very low.
    Increase in maternal healthcare can be through provision of more healthcare infrastructures in these places by the government and through adequate sensitization/awareness on the positive impacts of maternal healthcare in places where healthcare infrastructures already exist.
    Strict monitoring against the services of private doctors and nurses is necessary to stop the extortion of women, render shoddy services that put the patients at risk.
  2. What do you think should be done to extend the availability of modern forms of contraception to Nigerian women? Only 15% of women of child bearing age use modern forms of contraception.
    Sensitization on the availability and usage of these modern contraceptives will educate a wide range of women.
    Free distribution of these modern contraceptives after adequate sensitization will spread a wide usage among women.
    In ethnicities where contraceptives are attributed to men only, such sensitization is needed so as to enable women to accept the use of these modern contraceptives.
  3. What do you think should be done to avoid the expulsion of young women from education if they become pregnant? Women between the ages of 15 and 19 account for 145 out of every 1,000 births.
    Expulsion of young women from education can be avoided by
    Accepting that education is for all irrespective of condition.
    Education is a right and not a privilege. regnancy does not take the right to quality education away.
    Creating and implementing laws and policies that accept young pregnant women into the school system.
    Laws against the stigmatization of young pregnant women will aid young pregnant women to be more comfortable in the learning system.

    By including curricula that portray general acceptance of all individuals into the learning system.
  4. What do you think can be done to reduce the level of illegal and so unsafe abortions in Nigeria from the current level of around half a million a year? The lifetime risk of a Nigerian woman dying during pregnancy, childbirth, postpartum or post-abortion is 1 in 22.
    Adequate use of contraceptives during sex can prevent unwanted pregnancies first of all.
    To reduce illegal and unsafe abortions;
    Comprehensive sexuality education that includes medically accurate information about abstinence and contraception.
    Adequate family planning approaches to lessen occurrence of unwanted pregnancies.
    Greater access to emergency contraception methods.
    Ease of availability of contraceptive methods.
    Sensitization on the negative impacts of illegal and unsafe abortions.
  5. What do you think can be done to reduce the incidence of female genital mutilation? According to UNICEF, almost 20 million Nigerian women have suffered from FGM the third highest of any country in the world.
    Strict laws to counter the practice of FGM by the government.
    Sensitization on the negative impacts of FGM.
    Capacity building by various NGOs and CBOs to increase awareness in communities where FGM is practiced.
  6. How can we increase the proportion of women elected to the National Assembly, for example? Only seven out of 109 senators and 22 of the current 360 member House of Representatives members are women.
  7. What do you think can be done to reduce the risk to women of rape? The 2018 official Nigeria Demographic and Health Survey found that 30% of girls and women aged between 15 and 49 reported suffering sexual abuse including rape. In 2019, the Minister of Women Affairs and Social Development said that two (2) million Nigerians are raped every year. Federal Government does not make public any records it holds of incidents of gender-based violence in general nor of rape in particular.
    The police sometimes suggest financial settlements or demand funds to proceed with the alleged rape cases.
    By encouraging women to speak out in cases of rape.
    By adequate sensitization of the general public on the negative impacts of rape.
    By creating school curricula that portray social awareness against rape in our basic schools.
    By equipping the police with the needed tools to combat rape cases and deal sensitively with alleged rape cases.
  8. What can be done to pass the bill on gender equality and equity in favour of everyone that is, equal way of distribution.
  9. What can be done to stop husbands from forcing their wives in getting pregnant when they are not physiologically ready.

We hope that the above will be useful during the coming 2023 elections. This needs to be developed and refined. We welcome any comments or suggestions from our readers.

Six Ways in Which the Law Discriminates Against Women

1. Under Nigerian law, marital rape does not exist

Section 357 of the Criminal Code Act prohibits rape. It states that:

“Any person who has unlawful carnal knowledge of a woman or a girl, without her consent, or with her consent, if the consent is obtained by force or by means of threats or intimidation of any kind…in the case of a married woman, by impersonating her husband, is guilty of an offence which is called rape.”

Marital rape does not exist because Section 6 of the Criminal Code defines ‘unlawful carnal knowledge’ as a carnal connection that takes place otherwise than husband and wife.

The Violence Against Persons (Prohibition) Act (2015) does not recognise martial rape.

2.        Assault is less serious on a Woman

The penalty for assault is generally three years in prison.  For assaulting a woman it is only two years.

Section 356 of the Nigerian Criminal Code Act

Serious assaults

Any person who… assaults another with intent to commit a felony, or with intent to resist or prevent the lawful arrest… is guilty of a felony and is liable to imprisonment for three years.

Section 360 of the Nigerian Criminal Code Act

Indecent assaults on females

Any person who unlawfully and indecently assaults a woman or girl is guilty of a misdemeanour, and is liable to imprisonment for two years.

3. Married women cannot join the Police force and pregnant policewomen may be fired

Under Section 127 of the Police Act, married women are prevented from seeking enlistment in the Nigerian Police Force.

Section 127 also provides that when an unmarried policewoman is pregnant, she would be discharged from the police force. She can only be reinstated with the approval of the inspector general of police.

The NDLEA Act has similar provisions.

These laws are against the provision of the constitution (Section 42) that prohibits discrimination based on gender.

Although the court has declared this position illegal in Wela v. AGF, the provisions of the Police Act should be amended.

4. In the North, men can ‘correct’ their wives if it does not lead to grievous bodily harm

Under Section 55 of the Penal Code, husbands are permitted to correct and chastise their wives. Under Subsection 10, “nothing is an offence which does not amount to the infliction of grievous harm upon a person and which is done by a husband for the purpose of correcting his wife…”

Under Section 241 of the Penal Code, “grievous hurt includes emasculation, permanent loss of sight, ability to hear or speak, deprivation of any member or joint, destruction or permanent impairing of the powers of any member or joint, facial disfigurement, bone fracture or tooth dislocation.”

So, one slap is enough? a knock on the head? either way, hitting a woman is still wrong.

5. A Nigerian woman cannot confer citizenship to her foreign husband

Section 26 of the constitution provides that the president may confer Nigerian citizenship on “any woman who is or who has been married to a citizen of Nigeria.”

A foreign woman becomes a Nigerian citizen by marriage but a foreign man goes through a rigorous process – citizenship by naturalisation which means he must have lived in Nigeria for at least 15 years.

6. Nigerian women cannot take jobs that require night shifts

Section 5 of the Labour Act prohibits women except for nurses from undertaking night work or private industrial undertaking or any agricultural undertaking.

Section 56 also prevents women from being employed in an underground mine except for those employed in management, health and service training.

Although, designed to protect women, this is discriminatory.


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