Thursday, January 14, 2010


Racheal Okegbola


• Look at the statistics of the HIV/AIDS and implications of the epidemic for men and women
• The scope of sharing responsibilities between men and women analyzing the causal factors, and most serious consequences of inequalities in sharing responsibilities which are exacerbated in the HIV/AIDS Context
• Recommendations for the government, communities and individuals


• AIDS – Acquired Immune deficiency Syndrome: is a deadly incurable disease caused by the Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) This virus destroys the body’s own ability (antibodies) to fight infections. Hence the infected person will eventually die. AIDS is a worldwide health problem (disease). In Nigeria 530 cases of AIDS were reported between 1986 and 1992 (AIDS monitor- May, 1993). In 1999 the national AIDS/STIs control programme indicated that 5.8millions and 4% Nigerians are still HIV positive in 2005. HIV/AIDS is spread through

• Virginal, oral or anal sexual intercourse with someone who is infected with HIV
• Use of unsterilized needles, blades and knives which have been on or by an infected person.
• Sharing of needles and syringes with HIV infected persons.
• Transfusion of HIV-infected blood.
• An infected mother to her unborn child
• Breast feeding by an infected mother.

Today Nigeria is losing too many breadwinners, experienced workers and future leaders to HIV/AIDS- related infections when appropriate treatment and care can keep them alive and productive for many years. Most importantly stigma and discrimination affect PLWA negatively, decreasing their quality of life, it’s an immense barrier to effective responses to the epidemic, thus addressing stigma and discrimination remains a major challenge in the national responses against HIV/AIDS.
Statistical Background
• Women in Africa not only live with AIDS but also care for infected relatives and orphaned children.
• As the AIDS epidemic sweeps across developing nations with a vengeance, woman is the hardest hit. African women are hit even harder. Research finding indicate that 55percent of adults infected with HIV/AIDS in Africa are women. Statistics show that women and girls 15to24 years show the highest rates of increase.
• Women in Africa are bearing the brunt of the epidemic, not only as people living with AIDS, but also as the ones caring for infected relatives, orphaned children, and others.
• The many male-female inequalities also make women increasingly vulnerable to HIV infection.
• Without treatment, 25percent to 35 percent of children born to HIV-positive women in less developed countries become infected.
• More than a million children are living with HIV ore AIDS round the world
From policy issue
• Surveys consistently showed that unpaid household work was the largest sector of a nation’s economy, but the United Nations guide on the conduct of those surveys made it difficult to determine how much time was devoted to care work. It was not helpful if figures were constructed to fit hours worked into a tidy 24-hour day since that was not how women lived their lives. Nor was using estimation to measure and value unpaid work.
• For example, if a caregiver for someone with HIV made six trips, three times a day to secure water, it was not important to know the market value of the water carried, she said. What were important were when the woman travelled, where she went and whether she carried the water. The nature of the work done in the giving of care was more important for policymakers. Further, if one third of primary health care was provided at home, as demonstrated by local surveys, then one third of federal primary health-care budgets must be directed to those people. That was not a difficult concept to understand in terms of human rights.
• But as long as household work was excluded from national accounts, women would not make progress. construct gender policies that promoted men’s involvement in care giving.
• While research showed that men were participating more in care giving of their children than was commonly thought, they still spent relatively little time on it

Causes and consequences
• In the patriarchy of family, the men are considered the head of the household and responsible for the care of his family, extended and nuclear family
• Across many cultures, women are not expected to discuss or make decisions about sexuality, so suggesting condom use is out of the question.
• They are also expected to trust their husbands unconditionally. Feelings of love and trust often paralyze women and prevent them from perceiving the real risk taking preventive measures, and seeking safer sexual relations.
• In some societies, women cannot object to their husbands having multiple partners, because this is culturally accepted.
• In some cultures, men believe that sex with young virgins can cleanse them of sexually transmitted disease (STDs) and HIV.
Causes of unequal role in HIV/AIDS
• As the epidemics of HIV and AIDS have developed over time, international organizations, national authorities and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have recognized that social inequalities and power relations have an important impact on HIV care given role.
• the vulnerability of individuals and groups include social background, age, race, gender and sexuality. Not infrequently, these different variables interact with one another so as to render some groups systematically more vulnerable and other groups more protected
Issues in HIV/AIDS
• Unequal gender relations can be seen in many ways but are particularly visible in the special vulnerability of women to HIV and AIDS in developing countries, and in men's risk taking behaviors.
• Economic and social vulnerability, as well as stereotypical HIV/AIDS gender roles, influence women's and men's vulnerability to HIV infection, while fuelling the overall course of the epidemic.
Consequences of inequalities in gender relations
• women in many parts of the developing world are less likely to control how, when and where sex takes place, thereby increasing the likelihood of unwanted pregnancy, STDs and HIV (see, for example, International Center for Research on Women, 1996).
• Women's vulnerability to HIV infection is enhanced for several reasons including their economic dependence on men, lack of access to education, poverty, sexual exploitation, coercion and rape, as well as by the fact that women are more likely than men to sell sex in order to survive
• Surrounding and to some extent legitimating these inequalities are ideologies of masculinity and femininity which make it seem 'natural' that men should have the upper hand when it comes to economic decision making, opportunities for advancement, expressing their sexual desires and satisfying their sexual needs.
Consequences ctd
• Across many cultures, women are not expected to discuss or make decisions about sexuality, so suggesting condom use is out of the question. They are also expected to trust their husbands unconditionally. Feelings of love and trust often paralyze women and prevent them from perceiving the real risk taking preventive measures, and seeking safer sexual relations. This automatically affects gender roles in care given
Consequences cotd
• Once a woman is HIV positive, she faces stigmatization. She is rejected by even her own family, regardless of whether or not it was the husband who brought the infection home. She is especially subjected to the violation of her sexual and reproductive rights. She is forced to suspend or change her sex life and will not be allowed to have children. In many instances, HIV-positive married women are abandoned by their husbands with no legal or economic recourse.
Consequences cotd
• Recently, a Kenya man ejected his HIV-positive wife from their main house to live in modestly furnished servants’ quarters. The wife, a 34-years-old bank cashier, had contributed through mortgage payments to the buying of their home. However, when she tested HIV-positive, the husband kicked her out. He went to court and sought estrangement from his wife, saying that her HIV status had put his life in danger. He also claimed cruelty, assault, abuse, and other matrimonial offences.
• In s landmark ruling on July 31 this year (2000) that was hailed as a good precedent and practical policy statement on AIDS, three Court of Appeals judges hearing the suit ordered the husband to take back his wife. They noted that although they sympathized with the husband’s fears, it would have been morally wrong for him to desert his spouse until a court decreed otherwise.
• This case was, however, more the exception than the rule. Many women cannot pursue their legal rights. Often, after being widowed by AIDS, a woman loses her property to greedy relatives and finds herself abandoned by the whole family. She has to take care of her children in addition to buying drugs to manage her HIV status (if she is infected). Many such widows turn to prostitution to generate income, or they encourage their female children to take up prostitution. As is common, sex workers often cannot ensure their clients’ practice of safe sex or their own.
• In other cases, infected women, including single mothers, are not only faced with the task of expensive management of their status but also of caring for their children. During a recent World AIDS Day celebration, a single mother living with AIDS confessed that she had to breastfeed her baby, although had warned her that in doing so, she risked infecting the child. She had no money to buy him milk. She said it was a struggle in her slum life to raise the 600 shillings (US 8) required for her monthly dose of AIDS drugs. She asked the crowd whether they could blame her for breastfeeding when nobody was willing to give her money to buy milk for the baby.
• Living up to society’s definition of a good woman may be hazardous to one’s health, at least when it comes to AIDS. Being passive, submissive and na├»ve in sex matters, as well as too unquestioning of a partner’s peccadilloes have made women more vulnerable to HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, experts have noted.
• Economic dependence also forces women to endure forced sex, early marriage, and incest, all of which might cause vaginal tearing and expose young women to HIV. For the same reason, most women accept their partner’s extramarital affairs though these put them at risk. Most HIV cases are rooted in heterosexual contact involving monogamous women and their philandering husbands. Low social status is at the root of woman’s vulnerability.
• “We will not achieve progress against HIV until women gain control of their sexuality”-Dr. Gro Harlem Brundtland, Director-General World Health Organization
Lessons learned from Nigeria
• The work of caregiving in the home, be it to raise a young child or nurse a relative sick with HIV/AIDS, must be valued by society, financially supported by Governments and shared more equally between women and men, gender equality experts
Lessons learned
• Women and girls shouldered most of the burden of unpaid care worldwide, spending on average of twice as much time on it as men, she pointed out. That was particularly challenging in low-income countries where the lack of such basics as modern appliances, running water and indoor electricity meant women spent hours fetching water and fuel. Wealthy women could afford maids and nannies, but poor women bore the burden alone, leaving them little or no time for training, education, political activities and leisure.
• And women caring for relatives could not strike for not being paid or because Government’s were unresponsive. There is a need for strong constituencies to demand accountability on the issue.

African Woman: A baggage of roles

About Gender Training & Development Network (GTDN)

Gender training and development network is a gender focused Non-governmental organization founded in 2004.The mission is to invest in people, projects and programe by building resources for gender development, training and research. It is believed that women/men are critical development actors and can be powerful catalysts for change.
Therefore, we envisioned a continuum in which women, girls and men including the vulnerable and disadvantaged are able to develop their potentials free from the constraints of ignorance and lack of skills to ensure that women and men participate actively in development process.

GTDN works with a network of civil society groups, individuals, activists, professionals and researchers that are concerned with sustainable gender development and good governance. We focus on the need to initiate and implement change through workable programs, network and approaches to best practices for gender development and build citizens’ voice for good governance using the local government and civil society organizations (CSOs) as entry points.

Two key departments anchor GTDN activities: the development and governance projects units and the HIV/AIDS advocacy unit.

Our Objectives
 To carryout community based research and training on a broad range of gender issues in the areas of leadership, governance and development policy.
 Build capacity of urban based and grassroots CSOs/ individuals in governance and leadership skills
 Packaging and providing HIV/AIDS information to rural areas particularly on prevention, treatment, stigma and discrimination against people living with HIV/AIDS.
 Building training networks and alliances for civic awareness on good governance, poverty alleviation across States/local Government Areas and conflict management.
On–going Work
 Development of assessment tools for gender status and oversight in governance process.
 Periodic training packaged during elections for women aspirants on how to contest and win elections
 Research on women and electoral process
 Networking with coalition of NGOs in Lagos state on domestication of CEDAW
 Training of in-school and out-of school youths on governance issues and conflict mitigation
 Research on HIV prevention, workplace discrimination and stigma of people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA)
 Sensitization of abstinence/HIV/AIDS for in school youths.

 Trained over 500 States /LGCs policy makers on gender and gender budget mainstreaming in Osun, Yobe and Jigawa States
 Research on women in Kwara civil service.
 Established networks in 3 States (Lagos, Oyo and Kogi) for gender training and HIV awareness raising.
 Trained (through consultancy) over 250 women politicians on leadership skills, campaign strategies, zoning formula, electoral process, election monitoring peace education/conflict mitigation transparency, accountability and government community relations.
 Packaged manual on conflict mitigation, HIV/AIDS stigma reduction and leadership skills.

GTDN is self sponsored but seeks financial support from donors, local partners, and individuals interested in its area of advocacy.

Human rights activists, media, women lawyers (FIDA), researchers, women activists, youths/individuals, and professionals/NGO bodies.

Target Groups
Women, Youths and CSOs.

Mailing Address: U.I. Post Office Box 22215, Ibadan.
Lagos Office: 1st floor D wing. Elephant cement House Alausa. Ikeja. Lagos.
Telephone 2348023377517, 08023410013.
Project Staff: Mr.Rotimi Olobayo P.R.O. (08058322810)
Mr. Stephen Akinola (Accountant )
Executive Director: Racheal Okegbola

Gender Gaps in Nigeria Constitution: By Racheal Okegbola

The language in which the constitution is written betrays its seeming desire to continue with the patriarchal tradition of our society. In our opinion, it is necessary to divest the constitution of its masculinity and make it gender sex recognizing that not only men are human beings in Nigeria. The pronoun "he" appears in the 1999 Constitution 235 times and the word woman was used only two times {See Sections 26 (2) (a) and 29 (4) (b)}and in both cases it was used it was to cause some

The Section 26 of the 1999 Constitution defines who is a Nigerian citizen and how same may be acquired by naturalization and by registration. The Constitution makes no provision for the process by which non-Nigerian men married to Nigerian women and who are so desirous, may become Nigerian citizens. The silence here has continued to wreck untold hardship on the stability of many marriages.

Furthermore, section 29(4) (b) of the constitution provides for the renunciation of citizenship and thus allows an under aged woman to revoke her citizenship even when she has not attained the age of majority or the constitutional voting age.

There is a continued ambiguity about the "origin" of a woman who marries a man from al)other ethnic or geographical area to hers. The reality of most women in this category is that they lack any definitive claim to the area they left or that to which1hey married into. In some instances women have been denied their rights to appointive or political positions due to the fact that they can no longer claim their original place of origin or that or their husbands.

Section 42(1) prohibits discrimination on grounds of sex amongst others and further to that, the Nigerian Government has signed and ratified several instruments that frowns at inequality and discrimination, and aim at protecting women's rights as human rights. Nevertheless, the right of the woman to freedom from discrimination has been specifically derogated from by the Constitution itself in the very section guaranteeing the right. Thus, section 42(3) has precluded the right to freedom from discrimination as conferred in section 42(1) from applying with respect to any public office, including military or police appointments

.3.1 Section 42(3), 1999 constitution is restrictive, nullifies and impairs women's rights and the rights of others and thus should be abrogated

Section 34 1999 Constitution of the constitution generally speak to right to dignity of human persons, however does not touch on the specificity of women's rights to be free from harmful traditional practices which includes widowhood practices, female genital mutilation, force a marriage and others which have constituted a continuing threat to the lives of women in Nigeria

It is an incontestable fact that women constitute about half of the projected national population of Nigeria. Unfortunately, this numerical strength has never found a corresponding expression or representation in Nigeria's public life

The problem is beyond the usual position that "there are no suitable women to fill vacancies or even token appointments to "gender balance" a string of appointments. The fundamental Issue remains that there are institutional reasons obstructing the possibility of full public advancement of women. The societal conditionings of women as subservient weaker sex including the conceptualized dichotomy of public and private spheres are impediments to women s full participation in public life. African Countries such as Rwanda, Uganda, South Africa, Eritrea, Malawi etc has used constitutional measures to enhance women's active participation in power and in decision making. Today, Rwanda parliament has almost 50% representation of women.

Barriers to improve women's health are often rooted in social economic, legal, cultural and religious belief. Thus, women in Nigeria become vulnerable to increased risks of sexual and other abuse, in and out of marriage affecting women's bodily integrity and autonomy. Is a fact that Nigeria's maternal mortality rate is one of the highest in the world today and yet women still lack access to education and information needed to benefit from reproductive health services. Reproductive health and rights are so fundamental to the enjoyment of right to life for women and must be protected by the constitution

Chapter II of the. 1999 Constitution makes provision for the Fundamental Objectives and Directives Principles of State Policy of Nigeria. Many of these rights are the most laudable objectives for which any state can set for itself. In particular, when weighed against the economic, social and political situation in the country. However, as laudable as these objectives are, they remain non justifiable in the court of justice

A perusal of theses objectives reveals that it is the women folk and the poor that will stand to benefit the most from the legal enforcement of these rights.

Section 14(3) entrenched the federal character principle without affirming the principle of equality and non discrimination that should strictly speaking be the basis for composition of government of the Federation or any of its agencies and the conduct of its affairs. As it is now the focus of the Commission, which is by no means independent and gender balanced even in its composition is to ensure ethnic balance in power and in the access to national resources. This state of affair is unjust and contradictory to a constitution that postulates equity and social justice.

Women in most communities in Nigeria are treated as objects or properties and therefore not a subject of inheritance. The practice of denial of inheritance right has caused untold hardship to women and girl-children often left destitute and In extreme poverty at the death of their husbands or fathers. The 1992 Constitution of Ghana has provision that guarantees women inheritance and general spousal right to each others property

Women in most communities in Nigeria are denied rights to land and the provision in the constitution on the Land Use Act does not guarantee equal access of men and women to land and also adequate compensation for land compulsorily acquired. Rather, it reinforces discriminatory customary and cultural practices that deny women access to land- an important means of production

The consequences of living with physical or mental disabilities are particularly serious for women in a society like ours where discrimination against women is heavily practiced. Failure of the State to provide for enabling environment within which women in this category can live free, limits their possibilities of enjoying their rights as human beings.

My Profile

Racheal Modupe Okegbola has more than twenty years cognate experience in development community projects and advocacy for women's rights and other marginalized groups in the society in order to create social and behavioral change. This experience dated back to 1987 when she worked for the National Directorate for Employment as Senior Evaluation Officer on development Programs, where efforts were concentrated to providing women, unemployed graduates and civil Society with the basic resources for empowerment. After the nine years of technical programming and implementation in the ministry, Ms Okegbola also worked as a coordinator of a women's program in a non-¬profit NGO in Nigeria for two years before she joined the U.S Agency for International Development (USAID/CEDPA Project) from 1997 to 2009.

In CEDPA/USAID Nigeria, she rose from the position of Assistance Program Manager to Program Manager in 2002, and later to the position of Team Leader in 2005-6 and now a project advisor in USAID office in Nigeria. She has demonstrated ability to manage thirty (30) development projects successfully and to build NGOs’ capacity to create positive change on poverty alleviation, in the increase in women participation during elections, HIV/AIDS prevention as well as mitigating the impact of electoral violence among the society.

Part of my responsibilities includes proposal development, providing orientation and technical assistance to sub-projects partners, providing oversight functions in program implementation and Training NGOs and candidates for elections (on how to win elections in relation to the last three successive elections in Nigeria -1999, 2003 and 2007.) I have additional expertise in HIV prevention programs and Treatment advocacy as well as services for care and support. Ms Okegbola is an alumni of the Centre for Research and Documentation (CRD) Kano -Nigeria and CEDPA/USAID Washington USA. Her educational background is in history and political science.
Ms Okegbola has done extensive academic research in gender issues: These include her,
• Master of Philosophy thesis on Women in Public Administration, Nigeria 960-1991 (M.phil Political Science) 1998
• Masters of Science, Management of Unemployment Crisis in Nigeria under the Structural Adjustment Program (SAP) M.Sc Political Science). 1990.
• 1986 - Women and the Economy of Kabba Kogi Sate, Nigeria (B. A History) 1986
• Gender and Electoral process in Nigeria going research for Ph.d
• Conflict Mitigation among In –School Youth in Lagos State, (2004)
• Women and HIV/AIDS Stigma :Reducing Vulnerability and Impact Mitigation (2009)
• Talking together: Parents and their teens

Beyond this, she has a pet NGO tagged “Gender Training and Development Network” (GTDN) which has been implementing gender sensitive programs since founded in 2004. Part of which include:

 Periodic consultancy for European Union, Nigeria on gender budget for policy makers.
 Development of assessment tools for gender status in the Millennium Development Goal Program in the civil service, Nigeria
 Periodic training during elections for women aspirants on how to contest and win elections
 Research on women and electoral process
 Networking with coalition of NGOs in Lagos state on domestication of CEDAW
 Training of in-school and out-of school youths on governance issues and conflict mitigation
 Research on HIV prevention, workplace discrimination and stigma of people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA)
 Sensitization of abstinence/HIV/AIDS for in school youths.
 Trained over 500 States /Local Government Councils’ policy makers on gender and gender budget mainstreaming in Osun, Yobe and Jigawa States,Nigeria
 Established networks in 3 States (Lagos, Oyo and Kogi) for gender training and HIV awareness raising.
 Trained (through consultancy) over 250 women politicians on leadership skills, campaign strategies, zoning formula, electoral process, election monitoring, peace education/conflict mitigation transparency, accountability and government community relations.
 Packaged gender manual on conflict mitigation in school youths.