Last Updated on November 14, 2021 by Opeyemi Quadri
The Federal Ministry of Women Affairs as we know it today came about as a result of efforts of first ladies in Nigeria. The office of Nigeria’s First Ladies was not official and flamboyant until the military regime of Gen Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida (IBB).
His wife, Maryam Babangida, showed Nigerians and the world that the wife of the president can do more than answer the title of “wife of the president” or “first lady”
How Ministry of Women Affairs was Created in Nigeria
Maryam Babangida established the Better Life Programme for Rural Women in 1987 and launched many co-operatives and social welfare programs for women in rural areas.
By 1989, she was able to convince the head of state (her husband) about the need for a dedicated commission to take of the needs and rights of Nigerian women. And the National Commission for Women was birthed through a Decree in 1989.
Apart from reaching out to the wives of other African presidents, in 1993, Maryam Babangida National Centre for Women’s Development was founded which focused on women-right-related matters and to mobilize women towards self-emancipation.
Its Formal Creation
Her office continued to organise seminars, workshops, and enlightenment programme for women through local government areas across Nigeria. It paid off as the United Nations also supported her calls for Institutional Mechanisms for the advancement of Women and Women matters.
But the activities of the National Women Commission that were ad-hoc could not effectively address some key gender issues.
In 1995, the Commission for Women was upgraded to a full-fledged Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development, which provided answers to key areas of concern of the Beijing Platform for Action.
Although critics said the office of the wife of a military head of state whose husband came to power through the gun was illegal and unconstitutional, this would not stop the wife of Gen Sani Abacha, Maryam, to launch her pet project when Abacha kicked another illegal government out of office in November 1993. Upon assumption of office, she launched the “Family Support and Economic Advancement Programme.”
As such, the activities of the newly created Ministry of Women Affairs were greatly influenced by the wife of the president while some key issues remain unattended.
During that period, it was difficult to clearly know the distinctions between the pet project of the president and the ministry of women affairs.
As such, the ministry came up with a clear vision and defined its mandate in such a way that it will be possible for it to play key roles like other Federal Ministries of the government to address key issues.
Since then, the ministry has played key roles in effecting change. For instance, in December 2007, the ministry issued a policy for addressing HIV/AIDS in the workplace, helping ensure prevention, care, and support for those living with the disease.
Upon the creation of the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management, and Social Development (FMHDS) on August 21, 2019, the “social development” was removed from women affairs.
To formulate policies that protect the rights of women in Nigeria and push for empowerment programme that will pave the way for women to gain financial independence
8 Key Functions of Ministry of Women Affairs in Nigeria
- To encourage and boost economic activities of women and programmes that boost their empowerment
- To coordinate and monitor women’s programmes
- To provide technical support to women Non-governmental organizations
- To provide a platform for the training of women’s cooperatives.
- To promote civic, political, social and economic participation of women
- To review laws that affect the wellbeing of women in Nigeria
- To promotes literacy and health programs for women.
- To provide financial support to women Non-governmental
The ministry is headed by the minister of women affairs who is an appointee of the president, she is assisted by a permanent secretary. The ministry has 10 departments and one agency at the time of this report.
The departments are:
- Economic services
- Planning, research, and statistics
- Women and gender affairs
- Human resources
- General services
- Social welfare
- Legal services
- Anti-corruption unit
- Child development
Agencies of Ministry of Women Affairs:
At the time of publication, there is only one agency listed on the official website of the Federal Ministry of Women Affairs.
|Agency||Year of Establishment||Mandate|
|National Centre for Women Development||1997||To promote women’s advancement through research, training, and documentation and proactively work towards empowering Nigerian women|
While the ministry has one parastatal, it’s important to note that there are several non-governmental orgnisations in Nigeria that promote women-related rights and advocacy. Some of them include:
- Girls Not Brides
- Mirabel Rape Crisis Center
- Give Girls A Chance
- Kudirat Initiative for Democracy (KIND) Nigeria
- Wellbeing Foundation
- The African Women Power Network (AWP Network) and Women’s Technology Empowerment Center (W.TEC) among others
Past and Present Minister of Women Affairs in Nigeria
|Women Affairs Minister||Years in Office||Remark|
|Laraba Gambo Abdullahi||1998 to 1999||She was appointed by the military regime of Abdulsalami Abubakar. She would later become the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Abuja|
|Aisha Ismail||1999 to 2003|
|Rita Akpan||2003 to 2005|
|Maryam Ciroma||2005 to 2007|
|Saudatu Bungudu||2007 to 2008|
|Salamatu Hussain Suleiman||2008 to 2010|
|Josephine Anenih||2010 to 2011|
|Zainab Maina||2011 to 2015|
|Aisha Jummai Alhassan||2015 to 2018|
|Aisha Abubakar||2018 to 2019|
|Paulen Talen||2019– till date||She is the incumbent minister of women affairs|
- Headquarters: Address Annex 3, New Federal Secretariat, Shehu Shagari Way, Central Area, P.M.B. 229 Garki, Abuja
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Official website: womenaffairs.gov.ng
The efforts of the ministry at encouraging women-related NGOs to register on its website is commendable as this will deepen the advocacy for women’s right.
It should take its activities beyond Abuja and the Northern parts. It has to establish its presence in other parts of the country. It is called the Federal Ministry of Women Affairs, not Northern Women Affairs. Women in the southwest, south-south and southeast geopolitical zones need the support and empowerment of the ministry.
- By womenaffairs.gov.ng