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Gender and Land Rights Database

Nigeria

Rights entrenched in the Constitution

  • The National Policy on Women of 2000 launched specific guidelines for promoting gender equality in all sectors of the economy. The policy is being revised into a National Gender Policy in order to reflect the new shift towards gender and development (5).
  • The following measures have been put in place as a consequence of joint efforts among national institutions and women’s non-governmental organizations:

    - microcredit provided by Community Banks and a National Poverty Eradication Programme which is accessible to about 27 percent of women;

    - establishment of the Female Functional Literacy for Health and Poverty Alleviation Project (FFLH) to provide literacy and health education to rural women and income-generation activities in 14 communities in 10 states of the federation. The model has been replicated in 10 additional states. Women are also encouraged to form cooperatives for this project. Education and communication materials have been produced in local languages to create awareness;

    - health education, functional literacy and income-generating activities for women in the rural areas. This project by the Federal Ministry of Women Affairs and Youth Development (FMWAYD), the Federal Ministry of Health (FMOH) and the World Health Organization (WHO) has been replicated in 22 states.

    - provision of loans at low interest rates and waivers of collateral for women seeking credit facilities. Twenty-seven percent of women have benefited;

    - establishment of skills acquisition centres throughout the states of the federation;

    - pilot projects on modern bee farming in 10 states by FMWAYD in collaboration with the International First Aid Society (IFAS);

    - establishment of Women Development Centres in all the local government areas for training in skills acquisition, mass literacy and adult education programmes targeted at rural women;

    - provision of extension services in rural communities by federal and state ministries to improve agricultural yields and increase their technical proficiency (11).
  • The government has set aside US$3 846 154 specifically for women involved in agricultural production and processing. Also, the National Poverty Eradication Programme (NAPEP) and the National Directorate of Employment (NDE) programme at the federal, state and local levels have special provisions for women in terms of employment and poverty reduction (5).
  • The Lagos state government has a committee on women’s affairs in the State House of Assembly and the Ekiti and Rivers States have established an Office of the Public Defender (OPD) and a Directorate for Citizens Rights respectively, under the states’ Ministries of Justice. The OPD offers free legal services to underprivileged women whose rights are threatened or have been infringed (5).
  • The National Centre for Women Development, in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Women Affairs, commenced a project in 2003 aimed at compiling discriminatory and customary laws. The project was completed in 2005. The outcome document highlights the effects of the contradictions between the three legal systems − statutory, religious and customary − on the status of women in various areas, such as: property rights, including land tenure; access to credit; education; participation in politics; marriage; succession; and maintenance and custody of children, among others.
  • Based on the outcome document, the Attorney General of the Federation inaugurated a Committee on Reform of Discriminatory Laws against Women. The committee has drafted the Abolition of All Forms of Discrimination against Women in Nigeria and Other Related Matters Bill of 2006, which was rejected a first time in 2008 and is again before the National Assembly for enactment into law (5).

Rights entrenched in the Constitution

  • Constitution of 1999 (14):

    - Article 15[2] and Article 42[1][a] and [b], [2] and [3] prohibit  discrimination on the basis of sex and ensure that men and women have equal access to the courts in matters of contracts, torts and all civil matters. 

    - Explicit recognition of women’s equal rights is contained in Articles 17[1] and [2][a] which recognize equality of rights, obligations and opportunities before the law. 

    - Recognition of the right to land, housing and property is endorsed in Article 16[2][d] which declares that “the State shall direct its policy towards ensuring that suitable and adequate shelter […] are provided for all citizens”.

    - Article 43 recognizes the right to acquire property and guarantees every citizen the right to acquire and own immovable property anywhere in the country. 

    - Article 44 deals with grounds and conditions for compulsory possession or acquisition of property (15).

    - Article 11 states that women shall have equal rights as men with respect to employment opportunities, choice of professions, promotion and remuneration (14).

    - Section 26[2][a] stipulates that Nigerian men can have their non-Nigerian wives acquire citizenship through registration, but the same is not the case for non-Nigerian husbands married to Nigerian women. 

    - Section 29 deals with modes of renunciation of Nigerian citizenship. Subsection 29[4][b] recognizes a married woman, but not a married man, who avails herself of this Subsection as being of full age. This implies that a girl married at age 12 shall be treated as an adult (11).