Unilag Housing Centre

CENTRE FOR HOUSING AND SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT

How have Social Protection Programmes Improved the Place of Women in Conflict-Affected Communities? Do Social Protection Programmes Address Gender-Based Violence in Fragile and Conflict-Affected Societies?

Esther Thontteh

Department of Estate Management/Centre for Housing and Sustainable Development, University of Lagos, Nigeria
Email: ethontteh@unilag.edu.ng

This article discusses the extent to which the social protection programmes that are currently in place address the issue of gender sensitivity in Nigeria and the global south.  The National Social Protection Policy (NSPP) draws its premise from the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended). The Fundamental Objectives and Directive Principles of State Policy, Chapter 2 (Sections 16 & 17), provides the basis for the provision of social protection in the country. In the policy statement, a mix of policies and programmes was designed for individuals and households to prevent or reduce poverty and socio-economic shocks by  enhancing livelihoods and a life of dignity. One of the overarching goals of the National Social Protection Policy is to establish a gender-sensitive and age-appropriate framework to ensure a minimum social floor for all Nigerian citizens for a life of dignity. While the NSPP document states that establishing a gender-sensitive framework is its priority, strategies of institutionalising and domesticating the overarching goals were not stated in the constitution. Therefore, the policy could not achieve its widely acclaimed intentions.

There are different types of NSPP programmes carried out in Nigeria which include HIV and AIDS programme, health and education support, trader monie, food stuff palliatives, subsidy removal palliatives, displacement/ IDP camps and school children feeding. Others are NPower, National Home-Grown School Feeding- NHGSF, Conditional Cash Transfer – CCT and Government Enterprise Empowerment Programme- GEEP. Trader Monie Transfer was a very welcome initiative, but its implementation was not effectively carried out. The structure for determining who should be included in the social register was not adequately defined. Several reports also have inefficiency in the disbursement procedure. For instance, With Osinbajo’s (the then Vice President of the nation) direct involvement in the Trader Monie scheme, political considerations were seen to have overshadowed what should be a purely credit decision. The beneficiaries of the Trader Monie scheme were no longer seeing the initial N10,000 as a step-up into the credit ladder but as their share of the proverbial ‘national cake.’ Meanwhile, the petty traders’ cash should have been disbursed through selected micro-finance banks, taking advantage of their already tested systems to make the scheme sustainable and more economical for efficiency according to (Nlebem, 2018). The mode of disbursement did not also follow the toolkit measure of OECD, 2018 which assessed how social protection is financed through critical questions viz: how are resources allocated across the sector? What is the sustainability of the program? Is there potential for expansion or introducing new schemes or are the mechanisms used to finance social protection spending consistent with the objectives of the programs they are financing? Evidence has shown that the trader monie initiative did not succeed the administration which launched the scheme.

In terms of Fuel Subsidy Palliative, the Federal governments, in August 2023, granted Five Billion Naira Palliative sum to the 36 state governments and the Federal Capital Territory. While 52% of the sum was given as grants to the state, 48% was allocated to buy food stuff, grains and fertilizers for distributions to vulnerable members of the public in order to cushion the effects of fuel subsidy removal. Evidence has started to pour in on social media where grassroot representatives recount their ordeals on the palliative received. A local government in Ilorin which has over 10 wards reported that it was only allocated a 10KG bag of rice. The local government chairman called the community members and asked for suggestions on how to share the 10kg bag of rice. This kind of strategy cannot alleviate poverty or provide a credible social protection for the vulnerable citizens.

This now takes the discussion further on the gender sensitivity of social protection programmes. As Nigeria currently ranks 123 out of surveyed 146 countries in the 2022 Global Gender Gap Report, she still has a long way to go when it comes to gender equality. UNICEF asserted that 60 percent of the 10 million out-of-school children in Nigeria are girls. Nigeria risks falling further behind on women’s equality. While the Nigerian Constitution provides for gender equality and non-discrimination, women continue to suffer injustice and marginalization. The Nigerian NSPP of 2016 and the OECD working toolkit of 2018 did not consider gender-based violence as an indicator in the social protection Programmes thus, increasing more women vulnerabilities in informal communities and conflict-affected areas. The reviewed NSPP which was approved by the Federal Executive Council (FEC) in December 2022 aimed to build on existing efforts of government to establish social protection floor and extend coverage to previously excluded groups in Nigeria. Yet there was no clear indication of gender-based vulnerabilities.

In many African cities, reporting a gender-based violence seems difficult due to the patriarchal nature of the African settings, discriminatory laws, religious and cultural norms, gender stereotypes and low levels of education. This, summarily has a disproportionate effect on poverty among women. As the Nigerian Constitution provides for gender equality and nondiscrimination, why then do women continue to suffer injustice and marginalization? Therefore, a need to pay adequate attention to affected gender-based violence in the National protection policy programme. Conclusively, the social protection programmes do not address gender-based violence in Nigeria and other fragile and conflict-affected societies. Many times, women are most vulnerable in a war-torn area with the burden of losing husbands, livelihoods and having to cater for children left behind by their deceased husbands. In some other climes, women are maltreated and sent out of their matrimonial homes. The social protection programmes do not also cater for women experiencing gender-based violence such as providing shelter after separation from husbands, victimization by in-laws, rape and assault. To put a stop to this, an effective reporting mechanism and a gender-based register must first be put in place in all states of the federation through the police stations, market administrative coordinators, CBOs, NGOs and relatives amongst others. This will aid the urgency and strategies required to tackle such menace.

Bibliography

Nlebem A. (2018) Osinbajo is the problem with Trader Moni December 12, 2018, Businessday NG. All Rights Reserved.

Long, K., & Sabates-Wheeler, R. (2017). Migration, forced displacement and social protection. GSDRC Rapid Literature Review. Birmingham: University of Birmingham. http://www. gsdrc. org/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/Migration-Forced-Displacement-and-Social-Protection-2017-06-20-BL. pdf.

OECD (2018), Social Protection System Review: A Toolkit, OECD Development Policy Tools, OECD Paris. https://doi.org/10.1787/9789264310070-en

The Nigeria National Social Protection Policy (2016)

 

Authors Profile

Esther Thontteh is a land management and administration research fellow at the University of Lagos, Nigeria and an Estate Surveyor and Valuer. Her recent research experience includes Land rights and conflicts, Land inequality, Land pooling and innovative compensation framework, Migration Studies, Housing Affordability and Social Wellbeing, Gender Housing.  Her administrative experience includes Co-Chair, Global Women in Real Estate (GWIRE) 2022-2023; Coordinator (Regional), Global Sustainable Futures Network (GSFN) (2022- till date) and the pioneer Women Coordinator, NIESV