Placing gender at the center of security sector reforms in Nigeria

Progress made, but still a long way to go in implementation of the UNSCR 1325.

Date: Friday, April 30, 2021

Nigeria is signatory to several commitments on women, peace, and security, as well as gender responsive and gender balanced security sector more specifically. UN Security Council Resolution on Women Peace and Security 1325 (2000), domesticated in Nigeria through a National Action Plan on UNSCR 1325 is a key one. In response to these commitments, there have been various policy and programmatic initiatives by security institutions and related ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs), partners, and civil society. However, progress and implementation has been uneven across and within security sector institutions.

Participants honour the national anthem of Nigeria. Photo: UN Women/ Olanrewaju Faremi
Group photo with H.E Dame Pauline K Tallen, OFR, KSG, Minister of Women Affairs - Photo credits: UN Women/ Olanrewaju Faremi

It’s against this backdrop that UN Women supported the convening of the first Security Sector Reference Group meeting on UNSCR 1325 for 2021. The meeting was aimed at adopting the annual workplan for the Group, getting updates from the members of their various gender related initiatives and priorities for the year, validating a gender training manual for security sector personnel and providing inputs from the security sector to the development of the 3rd Nigerian NAP.

The meeting was graced by Minister of Women Affairs H.E Dame Pauline K Tallen, OFR, KSG, UN Women Country representative Comfort Lamptey - who attended virtually -, among other key stakeholders in the security sector institutions. ‘Security is an issue that affects all of us. We all know that women and children are the worst hit by insecurity, disasters and most recently the COVID 19 pandemic. This brings to the fore, the crucial element of collaboration among various actors’, H.E Dame Pauline K Tallen, OFR, KSG, Ministry of Women Affairs.

She reiterated the vital support needed, starting from the presidency all the way to grassroots level. In her remarks, she stated that the Ministry of Women Affairs is not a stand-alone but at the center of the nation’s development. ‘...for the first time the Gender Unit in the Institute of Peace and Conflict Resolution has an allocated budget. We must continue to ensure that we mainstream gender in each of our programmes and policies, not forgetting the importance of building synergies to move the women peace and security agenda forward...’Grace Awodu, participant.

Group photo with H.E Dame Pauline K Tallen, OFR, KSG, Minister of Women Affairs. Photo: UN Women/ Olanrewaju Faremi
Participants honor the national anthem of Nigeria - Photo credits: UN Women/ Olanrewaju Faremi

'This platform will allow exchange of experiences and good practice through gender structures of various institutions, collate data and assess overall performance of the gender responsiveness of the security sector… we expect that this year the group will achieve much more as it consolidates its membership and ways of working’. Comfort Lamptey, UN Women Country Representative.

Convenings of the Reference Group form part of a larger intervention by UN Women, funded by the Government of Germany, the main objective remains to support efforts by the Nigerian Government to enhance gender balance and gender responsiveness of security sector institutions. This initiative also intends to meet the Nigerian government’s international, regional, and national commitments, in particular United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325.

Titled “Enhancing Gender-Responsive Security Operations and Community Dialogue on Gender Responsive Security Sector Reform”, the project specifically aims to support key security sector institutions to integrate gender in their policies, training, and operational documents. ‘…there is need to change the narrative and engagement of women’s issues (SDG goal 5) which is a stand-alone but also cross cutting in achieving other goals for achievement of the SDGs’,  noted Peter Macha, UN Women Programme Specialist.

The consultation was attended by representatives of various security sector institutions (including Nigerian Police Force, Army, Air force, Navy, Immigration Service, and Customs Service among others), oversight agencies, and civil society organizations working on security.