The federal government has said as part of measures to protect women rights in Nigeria, employers of labour are barred from removal of women from work due to their marital or maternity status.
Speaking at the 107th International Labour Conference (ILC) holding in Geneva, Switzerland, minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige told the global audience that Nigeria has taken several measures to protect women’s right.
According to the minister, Nigeria is committed to the promotion of youth and women employment and enhancement of the status of women at work, stressing that it has continued to be a big challenge in our society over the last decade.
He explained that this has been exacerbated by economic recession brought about by fall in oil prices, militancy in some parts of the country, especially the North east, and the issue of returnee migrants, majority of whom are women and young girls trafficked for slavery and sex work.
He said, “for a country in which females constitute 49.4 percent of the total population of over 190 million, it is therefore imperative that the issues which hinder increased and effective women participation in the labour force be properly addressed.
“To address the issue of gender inequality and youth unemployment, the government drew up and has been implementing an Economic Recovery and Growth Plan. Government also initiated a School to Work (N-Power) programme, designed to empower young women and men with skills to facilitate their entry into the labour market. The programme has an initial 2-year span.”
According to him, in terms of specific measures to address inequality, the Nigerian government has recorded some successes in the following areas of the principle of equal pay for equal work for all, without discrimination on account of sex, is enshrined in the 1999 constitution.
He further said that other measures taken include employers of labour in both public and private sectors are by regulation requested to provide work place crèches for nursing mothers for ease at work place
According to him, “In public service, government recently increased the period for maternity leave from 12 to 16 weeks to allow enough recuperation time for both baby and mother, especially in the areas of breast feeding. In addition, all disciplinary proceedings against any female staff which might have been taken during period of her maternity leave shall be put in abeyance till the expiration of the leave.
“Employers of labour are also barred from removal of women from work due to their marital or maternity status. Illegal labour migration, contract staffing and labour casualisation which affects most women, are being reformed through policies and regulations at nation and bilateral and multilateral levels.”
He said however, that a lot needs to be done in terms of putting in place appropriate legislation, policies and practices to deal with the gender gaps that inhibit greater participation of women in the labour force.
He stressed that “the most effective method of eliminating gender inequality from the workplace lies in vigorous opposition to employers’ discriminatory conducts, policies and harassment in all forms wherever and whenever they occur. Women who fall victims to these abuses are encouraged to oppose such through legal actions and reporting to labour inspectors.”