How Nigerian Laww befriends thee concept of women empowerment

The  1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic  of  Nigeria as amended is not gender neutral in its  language as it is seen to contantly discriminate and disregard women. Other laws in Nigeria have followed suit with the constitution in trying to interpret and establish the fact that women empowerment in Nigeria will have to take more than a mere wish on the side of Nigerian women to be actualised. 

Government appointment and composition of agencies

Section 14(3) of the 1999 constitution did not include gender consideration in the composition of the government and of its agencies. Many have argued that this provision may hinder affirmative action in favor of women by not giving it constitutional recognition. It may also give room for marginalization of women in government appointment. The section provides that “The composition of the Government of the Federation or any of its agencies and the conduct of its affairs shall be carried out in such a manner as to reflect the federal character of Nigeria and the need to promote national unity, and also to command national loyalty, thereby ensuring that there shall be no predominance of persons from a few State or from a few ethnic or other sectional groups in that Government or in any of its agencies.

Citizenship rights

Section 26 (2) (a) of the 1999 Constitution confers the right of citizenship to any woman who is married to a Nigerian citizen but denies such right to foreign men married to Nigerian women.

Women prohibited from night work

Section 55 of the Labour Act prohibits women from working in the night. The section provides that “no woman shall be employed on night work in a public or private industrial undertaking or in any branch thereof, or in any agricultural undertaking or any branch thereof.” The only exception is for nurses.

Discrimination against female police officers

• Police women on duty are prohibited from putting on jewelry except wedding or engagement rings and /or wristwatches; applying face powder, lipstick or colored nail varnish

.• Police Women are required to place the alphabet ‘W’ before their rank.

• Compensation, Gratuity and Disability Pensions: provision was made for payment only to “wife‟ or “widow‟. No reference to spouses (husbands)

• Police women married to civilian husbands are disallowed from living in police barracks.

• Travel allowance made only for accompanying ‘wife’ and children. No husbands.

• According to Section 121 of the Police Regulations, women police officers shall as a general rule be employed on duties which are concerned with women and children.

• According to rule 122, married women are disqualified from enlisting in the Police; a Police Woman who is single at the time of her enlistment must spend two (2) years in service before applying for permission to marry giving particulars of fiancé who must be investigated and cleared before permission for marriage is granted.

• Section 125 of the police regulation states that “A married woman police officer shall not be granted any special privileges by reason of the fact that she is married and shall be subjected to posting and transfer as it were unmarried.”

• Section 126 of the police Regulations provides that “A married woman police officer who is pregnant may be granted maternity leave in accordance with the provisions of general order (a federal government instruction that regulated the condition of public officials). However, an unmarried woman police officer who is pregnant shall be discharged from the force.

  • Oluwafunbi Alatise
    This discrimination against women is unbearable. We have equal right as the men. Nothing makes men superior to us. 
  • Abiodun essiet
    In the constitution female was mentioned 2times and male was mentioned over 200 times. We need more women in decision making platforms 
    • patricia omo sukore
      Very true Abiodun. Though we cannt continue to hope more women will come out to assume politiical space, we have a role to play as individuals. 
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  • Dr Ishrat Bano
    This indeed is a very unfortunate condition.We shouls take it into serious conseideration and work with the policy makers to change these laws. 
  • Carol Ajie


    A few years ago during the regime of House Speaker Tambuwal (now Sokoto State Governor) effort to amend the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 to create gender balance and allow some fair representation in parliament was resisted  even in the face of UN Women Executive Director who  was with us on a visit to the National Assembly and made a case for inclusive language.

    However, section 42(1) of the Nigerian Constitution, enshrines freedom from discrimination on the basis of sex or circumstances of birth and other grounds under the human rights provisions. Conversely we could explore this provision to ensure a proportionate distribution of offices such as Ministers and other positions.  We should articulate the anti-discriminatory clause to get a fair deal.



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  • Ogbeyalu Okoye
    The Nigerian law does not in anyway encourage women empowerment, we as women have a duty to push aside laws that put women down and get engaged in politcs to ensure rules that favour women empowerment.
  • Moureen Njule Eseme
    It's really unfortunate that laws which should be promoting women economic empowerment are gender blind.  In my country most laws are outrightly gender blind.All we can continue doing as activists for women economic empowerment is too pressurize the government to amend the laws. 
    • Carol Ajie
    • patricia omo sukore
      It's a pity Moureen, Laws that are supposed to be the repose for the vulnerable has become the arrows that shoots at the helpless.
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