BRIEF HISTORY OF THE MINISTRY
was created consequent upon of the response to The United Nations agreement to establish Institutional Mechanisms for the advancement of Women and Women matters. It is a product of efforts established through a Decree in 1989 giving rise to the National Commission for Women. This however was the initiative of the wife of the then Head of State (Dr) Mrs Maryam Babangida of blessed memory.
The Commission though recognized as a Government Institution, its activities were rather ad-hoc with no specific and adequate budgetary allocation. The wife of the Head of State then dictated the pace of activities in the Commission with the creation of her Better life Programme for Rural Women.
In 1995, the Commission for Women was upgraded to a full-fledged Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development, which meant that Nigeria had achieved one of the critical areas of concern of the Beijing Platform for Action.
The activities of the Ministry, again largely influenced by the dictates of the wife of the Head of State at that time, Mrs Maryam Sani Abacha who came up with her pet project; the Family Support and Economic Advancement Programme.
Indeed, like the Women Commission, resource allocation in the form of budgetary provision was very meagre, barely enough to pay the Salary of staff.
Intervention by the First Lady’s programmes were basically welfarist in nature, targeting Women for their immediate needs without tackling the age-long problem of lack of integration of gender awareness and competence into mainstream development planning. This arrangement brought a lot of Institution credibility gap, which negatively affected the Ministry in many ways. For instance, when the Commission was upgraded to a Ministry Status, it was not really at par with other Ministries and therefore lacking the requisite institutional identity and resource base. Other problems were lack of adequate budget allocations and a recognized technical cadre. The net effect of this credibility gap has been that the Federal Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development is not viewed as an equal government outfit with other Ministries making its gender mainstreaming work even more difficult to pursue.
In line with Government’s repositioning and reform agenda for better service delivery in the Country; the Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development came up with a clearer vision and mission statement as follows:
“To help build a Nigerian Society that guarantees equal access to social, economic and wealth creation opportunities to all, irrespective of gender, places premium on protection of the child, the aged and persons with disabilities; focuses attention of key operators in both private and public sectors on mainstreaming the concerns of these groups of people in national development process”.
“To serve as the national vehicle to bring about speedy and healthy development of Nigerian Women, Children, the socially disadvantaged and physically challenged, and the main-streaming of their rights and privileges in national development process”.
THE MINISTRY’S MANDATE
“The broad mandate of the Ministry is to advise government on gender and Children issues. Issues affecting Persons with Disabilities and the Aged; initiate policy guidelines and lead the process of gender equality and mainstreaming at both the national and international levels”.
FUNCTIONS OF THE MINISTRY
The basic functions of the Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development are as follows:
- Promoting the general welfare of Women and enhancing their ability to realize their full potentials in various fields of human endeavours.
- Providing an enabling environment that will ensure the maximum and holistic development of the potentials of the Nigerian child towards national development and nation building.
- Promoting a multi-sectoral programme synergy for the realization and enhancement of the survival, development, protection and participation rights of children in Nigeria with particular reference to the achievement of set targets enumerated in the Child’s Right Act 2003 (CRA), the National Economic Empowerment and Development Strategy. NEEDS (2004) and Millennium Development Goals MDGs.
- Embarking on awareness creation and formulation of policies and legislation on survival, development, protection and participatory rights of Women and Children in Nigeria.
- Promoting responsible motherhood and maternal health as well as protecting the rights of Women.
- Taking steps that support the elimination of all social culture practices that discriminates against or are detrimental to the overall development of Women and girls.
- Ensuring the integration of Women in national processes and promoting the mainstreaming of gender on all issues of national importance.
- Supporting the work of relevant non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and civil society organizations (CSOs) working for the realization of Women and Children’s right.
- Advocating for the passage and enforcement of laws that protect and project the interest of the Ministry’s target groups particularly the Child’s Rights Act 2003.
- Central planning of activities of the Ministry such as production of Annual Reports, Ministerial Press Briefings, National Council on Women Affairs Meeting, Tenders Secretariat and HIV/AIDS programmes.
- Co-ordinating and preparation of the Ministry’s National Plan Medium Term plan and Perspective plan in collaboration with other Department in the Ministry.
- Collection, collation, analysis, storage and dissemination of data research.
- Formulates and updates various policies and implementation of strategies for the development of various categories of Person with Disabilities (PWDs).
- Subvention to recognized Rehabilitation Centre and Non-Government Organization (NGOs).
- Coordination of Inter-Governmental and Inter-State social welfare activities
- Rehabilitation of alcoholics, drug addicts, cult members and school drop outs etc.
- Care for the Elderly
- Training of professional social workers and the organization and coordination of training facilities for government and non-governmental social welfare agencies.
The Ministry (FMWASD) current policy thrust revolves around the followings:
- Advocacy, sensitization and public enlightenment on Nigeria; adoption and implementation of international convention on Treaties and Protocols.
- Legislation (enactment) and implementation of National Social welfare programmes including child protection.
- Conception and Execution of Projects.
- Development of existing Institutions (e.g. Nigerian farm craft centre in Lagos, school of Social Works Emene, Braille centres and libraries.)
- Canversing the realization of the 35% Affirmative Action and improvement in the rate of the participation of Nigerian Women in Politics and Governance.
PROGRAMMES AND PROJECTS
The Ministry since its inception has strived to live up to its expectations by embarking upon a lot of advocacy, public enlightenment, sensitization and even some Projects to meet the yearnings and aspirations of its mandate groups. Federal Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development (FMWASD) had as well fulfilled the requirement of all UN conventions, Treaties and Protocols or the charters of other Regional and Sub-Regional bodies like the AU and ECOWAS. Other National Policies and laws designed to advance the cause of Women, Children, Person with Disabilities, the Elderly and other vulnerable groups include:
- The Millennium Development Goals 3, 4, 5 and 6 (Promoting Gender equality and Women Empowerment; Reduce Child Morality and Improve Maternal Health) through Ambulance Emergency Intervention Programme; fight HIV/AIDS scourge and Malaria disease.
- The Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action and other African/ECOWAS regional Instruments.
- The National Gender Policy and its Strategic Implementation framework and plan (due by 2012) to enhance Women Empowerment, Gender Equality and Mainstreaming.
- The UN Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), Girl-child Education, the Elimination of all forms of violence Against Women and the Girl-child including support for the intensification of Campaigns against Harmful Traditional practices affecting Women and Girls.
- The principles and objectives behind the establishment of the Nigerian Women Trust Fund and Zonal Women Political participation in Decision-making and ICT.
- The National Policy guiding the establishment of Gender units in Ministries, Departments and Agencies of Government.
- The policies guiding the Economic Empowerment Programmes for Women through the Business Development Fund for Women (BUDFOW) and Women Fund for Economic Empowerment (WOFEE); and
- UN Convention on Rights of the Child to protection and participation and the Nigerian Child Rights Act which also seeks to protect Orphans and Vulnerable Children.
For the Projects embarked upon, the following are outstanding and most of them still on-going. Once completed and equipped, they would be commissioned for use by the intended beneficiaries. Such projects include:
- 72 Skill Acquisition Centres across the Country
- The National Children Library and Resource Centre – Abuja
- The National Rehabilitation Institute and Research Centre – Abuja
- The School for Social work in Emene, Enugu State
- The permanent site of the Nigerian farm craft Centre for the Blind in Lagos.
- 6 No. Braille Press Centres in Calabar, Enugu, Kaduna, Bauchi, Maiduguri and Lagos.