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Key findings
  • Slim majorities say women should have the same rights as men to get a paying job (53%) and to own and inherit land (51%). Men are far less likely than women to endorse gender equality in hiring and land rights.
  • Fewer than half of Nigerians say that in practice, women enjoy equal rights when it comes to getting a job (43%) and owning/inheriting land (30%).
  • Six in 10 Nigerians (61%) say women should have the same chance as men of being elected to public office.
  • But while about eight in 10 citizens (79%) think a woman will gain standing in the community if she runs for office, almost half (47%) say it’s likely she will be criticised or harassed, and 38% say she will probably face problems with her family.
  • Only one-fourth (26%) of citizens say the Nigerian government is performing “fairly well” or “very well” in promoting equal rights and opportunities for women. More than half (54%) say the government should do more to advance gender equality.

The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) describe gender equality as “not only a fundamental human right, but a necessary foundation for a peaceful, prosperous, and sustainable world” (United Nations, 2022). Highlighted as SDG 5, it is also a cross-cutting principle underlying most of the other goals in pursuit of development whose benefits are enjoyed equally by women and men.

In Nigeria, gender equality remains a challenge despite some government efforts to address it, including the Better Life for Rural Women Programme and the creation of the Federal Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development (National Population Commission, 2014). In addition to traditional rules and practices that treat men preferentially (Adeosun & Owolabi, 2021), the country’s male-dominated Parliament has repeatedly rejected or failed to act upon proposed legislation to promote women’s rights. Most recently, in March 2022,
the National Assembly voted down five bills aimed mostly at increasing women’s political leadership opportunities, prompting public protests in several cities (Premium Times, 2022).

The Federal Executive Council approved a revised National Gender Policy in March designed to promote gender equality, good governance, and accountability across the country’s three tiers of government (Guardian, 2022), though it awaits implementation.

This dispatch reports on a special survey module included in the Afrobarometer Round 9 (2021/2022) questionnaire to explore Africans’ experiences and perceptions related to gender. (For findings on gender-based violence, see Mbaegbu & Duntoye, 2022.)

In Nigeria, survey findings show that women remain at a disadvantage compared to men when it comes to hiring, land ownership, control over key assets, and participation in household financial decisions. Popular support for gender equality is limited, especially among men.

While most citizens say women should have the same chance as men of being elected to public office, many also consider it likely that female candidates will suffer criticism and harassment. Most Nigerians say the government is doing a poor job of promoting women’s rights and opportunities.

Sunday Duntoye

Sunday is the data manager for NOI Polls

Raphael Mbaegbu

Raphael is a project manager for NOI Polls