Federal Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development was created consequent upon of the response to The United Nations agreement to establish Institutional Mechanisms for the advancement of Women and Women matters. It is a product of efforts established through a Decree in 1989 giving rise to the National Commission for Women. This however was the initiative of the wife of the then Head of State (Dr) Mrs Maryam Babangida of blessed memory.
The Commission though recognized as a Government Institution, its activities were rather ad-hoc with no specific and adequate budgetary allocation. The wife of the Head of State then dictated the pace of activities in the Commission with the creation of her Better life Programme for Rural Women.
In 1995, the Commission for Women was upgraded to a full-fledged Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development, which meant that Nigeria had achieved one of the critical areas of concern of the Beijing Platform for Action.
The activities of the Ministry, again largely influenced by the dictates of the wife of the Head of State at that time, Mrs Maryam Sani Abacha who came up with her pet project; the Family Support and Economic Advancement Programme.
Indeed, like the Women Commission, resource allocation in the form of budgetary provision was very meagre, barely enough to pay the Salary of staff.
Intervention by the First Lady’s programmes were basically welfarist in nature, targeting Women for their immediate needs without tackling the age-long problem of lack of integration of gender awareness and competence into mainstream development planning. This arrangement brought a lot of Institution credibility gap, which negatively affected the Ministry in many ways. For instance, when the Commission was upgraded to a Ministry Status, it was not really at par with other Ministries and therefore lacking the requisite institutional identity and resource base. Other problems were lack of adequate budget allocations and a recognized technical cadre. The net effect of this credibility gap has been that the Federal Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development is not viewed as an equal government outfit with other Ministries making its gender mainstreaming work even more difficult to pursue.
“The broad mandate of the Ministry is to advise government on Gender and Children issues. Issues affecting Persons with Disabilities and the Aged; initiate policy guidelines and lead the process of gender equality and mainstreaming at both the National and International levels”.
Dame Pauline Tallen
Minister of women affairs