IWD: ActionAid Alleges Tinubu’s Economic Policies Has Created Deeper Gender Inequality

ActionAid Nigeria has alleged that President Bola Tinubu’s economic policies has further deepened the dimensions of gender inequality in the country and placed more women at a vulnerable state.

ActionAid Country Director, Andrew Mamedu made the allegation at a press conference on Friday in Abuja to mark the International Women’s Day.

Mamedu who was represented at the conference by the Deputy Director, Suwaiba Muhammad Dankabo said: “The current economic landscape, characterised by persistent inflation, exchange rate deterioration, and insecurity, demands urgent attention from all stakeholders, especially the government.

Mamedu said: “Over the past few months, the country has experienced a rapid increase in poverty, hardship and Insecurity which has led to a slowdown of the economic growth, with the national inflation rate hitting 29% in the first quarter of 2024. Projections by KPMG in December 2023 highlighted the adverse effects of policy reforms, including the removal of fuel subsidies and the unification of the foreign exchange market.

“These measures, though intended to spur economic growth have posed significant barriers to economic stability and have particularly impacted the lives of women and children across the nation.
President Tinubu’s reforms, while aiming for economic restructuring, have inadvertently hampered GDP growth, deviating from the World Bank’s initial forecast of 2.8% growth.

“This has further deepened the dimensions of gender inequality and placed more women at a vulnerable state.
Although the gains made by development partners in empowering women across Nigeria, the economic downturn has led to setbacks, with many women-owned businesses shutting down due to financial difficulties. This exacerbates existing gender disparities and injustices, as women are forced to bear the burden of providing for their families amidst dwindling purchasing power. The impact of these economic challenges extends beyond financial strain, affecting every aspect of life in our communities. From increased instances of domestic abuse to rising rates of malnutrition and preventable illnesses, the ripple effects are profound and far-reaching. It is at a moment like this that we seek collaboration in investing in more women and their businesses to increase the economic downturn.”

He said a survey carried out by ActionAid Nigeria in some communities to ascertain the weight of the current situation on women and children, showed that most respondents said that the current hardship has impacted 80% of their livelihood with 13% relating it to the high cost of living and 8% lamenting on the high cost of transportation. “These experiences have further deepened their fear for safety as 38% of respondent fear for their lives and that of their families as the rate of crime (Killing, stealing, and kidnapping) has increased. To remedy these situations most of the respondents has had to sleep hungry so their children can feed, some have taken extra job at night to augment what they do during the day, while other women have stopped their children from going to school and reduce other expense just to support feeding.

“Many churches have increased members as 38% of women said they have turn to God for hope and help.

“Moreover, Nigeria is grappling with an alarming unemployment rate of 35%, exacerbated by the soaring exchange rate and fuel prices. The economy is further challenged by opportunists exploiting the rise in commodity prices for personal gain.”

He noted that: “These economic hardships disproportionately affect women and children, who bear the brunt of the crisis.

“Today, we gather with heavy hearts, burdened by the weight of a society crumbling under the strain of hardship. Each passing day, we witness the harrowing consequences of our collective struggle. We have witnessed families torn apart by economic strife, homes shattered by violence, futures darkened by insecurity and lives lost by mental stress.

“But amidst this darkness, we find glimmers of resilience. Let the told, and untold stories from these women be a call to action, a reminder that we cannot afford to look away. We must stand together, united in our determination to build a brighter tomorrow.”

He said considering the grave economic challenges outlined and the devastating impact on the lives of Nigerian women and children, “ActionAid Nigeria urges the government to take immediate and decisive action. We call upon the government to: Implement Gender-Sensitive Policies: Integrate gender perspectives into policy formulation to address the unique challenges faced by women, men, and children, ensuring equitable access to resources and opportunities.

“Revise Economic Reforms: Reassess recent policy reforms to mitigate their adverse effects on GDP growth, inflation rates, and the livelihoods of vulnerable populations, particularly women.

“Prioritize Social Protection: Allocate resources to provide social safety nets for women and children affected by poverty, insecurity, and unemployment, ensuring their access to essential services and support.

“Combat Inflation and Price Instability: Take concrete measures to stabilize prices of essential commodities, including food and transportation, to alleviate the burden on struggling families.

“Strengthen Security Measures: Enhance security operations to curb rising crime rates and insecurity, safeguarding the lives and well-being of all citizens, especially women and children.

“Support Women-Owned Enterprises: Provide targeted financial and technical assistance to women-owned businesses, enabling them to withstand economic shocks and contribute to national development.

“Foster Dialogue and Collaboration: Engage in inclusive dialogue with civil society organizations, development partners, and affected communities to co-create sustainable solutions and ensure accountability in addressing economic challenges.”

Michael Olugbode in Abuja