Federal Ministry for Women’s Affairs and Social Development (FMWASD) - Nigeria
In 1989, a National Commission for Women was established by the National Commission for Women Act 1989 (later repealed by the National Commission for Women Decree 1992). According to section 2 of the Decree, the objectives of the Commission are to:
a. promote the welfare of women in general;
b. Carry out the aims and objectives of the Better Life Programme for Rural Women (see the Chapter on Government Programmes);
c. Promote the welfare of the child and initiate actions for the development of the child within the meaning of the International Convention on the Rights of the Child and the National Policy on the Rights of the Child;
d. Promote the full utilisation of women in the development of human resources and bring about their acceptance as full participants in every phase of national development, with equal rights and corresponding obligations;
e. Promote responsible motherhood and the maternal health of women;
f. Stimulate actions to improve women’s civic, political, cultural, social and economic education;
g. Support the work of NGOs and play a coordinating role between government and Nigerian women’s organizations;
h. Encourage the sense and essence of cooperative societies and activities amongst women both in urban and rural areas and stimulate in them creative entrepreneurship in the field of cottage industries and small-scale industries;
i. formulate and propagate moral values within the family unit and in the public generally and establish programmes with institutions and organisations to inculcate moral education in women and children; and
j. work towards total elimination of all social and cultural practices tending to discriminate against and de-humanise womanhood.
The concrete functions of this Commission were defined in s. 6 as to:
a. formulate policies and programmes, within the framework of National Development Plans, aimed at enhancing the position and development of women in the social, economic and political context;
b. promote, develop and implement income generation and employment schemes through the grant of loans, establishment of home and cottage industries and, in particular the acquisition of skills for the improvement of arts, crafts, food processing and such other vocational training of women within the context of their assessed needs and potentials;
c. monitor and liaise with appropriate government ministries, departments, bodies, NGOs and international bodies, including United Nations organs, on matters concerning women and development;
d. monitor and submit reports to the National Council of Ministers on:
i. women’s education and counselling;
ii. the health of women and children; and
iii. existing legislation concerning the status of women.
e. devise ways and means of encouraging self-reliance in women;
f. coordinate, structure and monitor the activities of women’s voluntary organisations, grant appropriate aid to such voluntary organisations and evaluate their performance;
g. conduct research and formulate plans aimed at improving the status of women and the attainment of policy objectives generally in relation to women; and,
h. carry out all other functions as are conducive to the objectives of the National Commission.
The National Commission for Women was upgraded to a full fledged ministry known as the Federal Ministry for Women’s Affairs and Social Development. In 1996 gender units were established in federal and state ministries with a view to promoting gender equality in all aspects of social life. In 1997, State Ministries of Women’s Affairs and Social Development were established.
FMWASD is responsible for the coordination of the welfare of women, children and the family as a whole.
It has undertaken various actions. For instance, in June 1997, a project harmonization meeting to streamline the implementation of the Gender and Development (GAD), Women and Children Rights (CRC) and Children in Especially Difficult Circumstances (CEDC) projects was held in Kaduna. It was a collaborative effort of the Federal Ministry and UNICEF during which participants deliberated on strategies for ensuring that those three projects achieved their maximum impact on target beneficiaries. In July 1999, again with UNICEF, the Ministry organized a workshop on gender mainstreaming and gender sensitization.