Women welcome Armed Forces of Nigeria’s gender policy

BENJAMIN SAMSON in this piece examines the quest by the Armed Forces of Nigeria (AFN) to implement the UN Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) on Women Peace and Security through its gender policy.

Nigeria is signatory to several commitments on women, peace, and security, as well as gender responsive and gender balanced security sector. More specifically, the UN Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) on Women Peace and Security 1325 (2000), domesticated in Nigeria through a National Action Plan on UNSCR 1325 is a key one.

In response to these commitments, there have been various policy and programmatic initiatives by security institutions and related ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs), partners, and civil society. One of such policies is the Armed Force of Nigeria Gender Policy (AFNGP).

The Armed Forces of Nigeria (AFN) under the leadership of General Lucky Irabor in April this year unveiled the Gender Policy to promote gender mainstreaming in the nation’s armed forces.

The policy

The gender policy for the AFN seeks to among others ensure 35 percent affirmative action of women and achieve increased women involvements in recruitment and enlistment, education and training, retention, promotion, posting, operations, logistics, accommodation, budgeting, and institution of maternity and paternity leave for both men and women of Nigerian Armed forces to mention but a few.


The policy was launched by the wife of the President Aisha Mrs Buhari in April this year. She was represented at the launch by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Women Affairs and Administration, Dr Hajo Sani.

She commended the military for taking steps towards actualising gender mainstreaming in the armed forces.

She said that the policy had the propensity of opening up opportunities not only for the female personnel but also for the children aspiring to join the military.

According to her, the policy has set the stage for every woman in the AFN to begin to play a significant role in the defence of the nation from all forms of security challenges that confront Nigeria.

“It is on record that women and girls exert more efforts than the men and boys to prove their competence in many chosen areas of endeavour including the military.

“Therefore, the Armed Forces of Nigeria has set itself up to benefit maximally from the abundant innate capacities and capabilities women and children possess.

“It is also heartwarming that with this giant step, the Armed Forces of Nigeria is encouraged to ensure that the large part of the population contributes to the task of defending the country against its enemies,” she said.

She said that one of the cardinal focus of her Future Assured Programme under Aisha Buhari Foundation was the quest for gender inclusiveness and increased participation of women in decision-making processes.

She expressed hope that because women had been “imbued with wisdom that enables them to unite systems”, they would play a critical role in bringing solutions to various security challenges confronting the country.

This effort, according to her, is an added impetus to the efforts of Nigeria through the Ministry of Women Affairs and other civil society organisations working on ensuring women and girl children rights in the male-dominated environment of Nigeria.

She advocated that the policy should keep in view the challenges that militate against women emancipation, adding that gender stereotypes against women was a potential threat to their advancement in the military.

Speaking further, she said there are a good number of reported cases where women were prevented from participating in combat duties, excluding pregnancy or maternity.

“Women are often restricted to careers within the supportive aspect of the military such as finance, human resource, personnel, logistics, medical services, welfare etc.

“I enjoin the military women to continuously take note of this and vehement exception to such psychological oppression with the formulation of this policy.

“The security issues bedeviling our Country Nigeria still abound probably because we are yet to redefine the Armed Forces of Nigeria to explore the potentials of women for operational effectiveness.

“Women possess the traits of patience, perseverance and passion. Because of the emotional buildup of women, we possess the tendency to transmit the same spirit to any task,” she said.


Speaking, the Chief of Defence Staff, Gen. Lucky Irabor, said the complexity and dynamism of the spectrum of security challenges facing the world demand that all useful approaches and means must be employed to combat the menace emanating therefrom.

Irabor said it was the realisation that gender disparity contributed in no small measure to the suffering of women and girls in any environment that birthed the UN Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1325.

He said that the crux of the resolution aimed at ensuring that women and their societal needs were safeguarded through increased emphasis on granting access to opportunities in all spheres of human endeavours including the military.

Irabor said that Nigerian armed forces had become gender-sensitive by ensuring that the career paths of female personnel were unhindered.

This, according to him, is evident in the fact that the AFN can boast of producing female officers up to the rank of 2-star generals, adding that women were currently engaged in all areas of specialisation including combat operations.

He said that the Nigerian Defence Academy had continued to train female cadets as combatant officers as well as the establishment of Nigerian Army Women Corps in 2018.

According to him, the Nigerian Air Force established the Women of War in 2018 to involve women in all aspects of air operations including flying, aircraft maintenance, air traffic control and engineering.

He said that the Nigerian Navy had equally deployed women as sailors and for other key aspects such as ship maintenance.

The defence chief said that the coming of the policy was a clear declaration that the AFN was totally committed to taking the issue of women empowerment to higher levels.

He said that the policy was part of ongoing efforts at addressing some of the security challenges prevalent in the country.

“The involvement of women and girls in a myriad of violent crimes and activities including banditry, kidnapping and terrorism among others, demands that the innate capacities and capabilities of women and girls are channelled and harnessed for societal benefits.

“On this note, let me assure you all that the AFN remains seized in confronting all agents that threaten the peace of Nigeria,” he said.

Women affairs minister hails policy

Meanwhile, the Minister of Women Affairs and Social Development, Dame Pauline Tallen, has commended the policy.

The Minister gave the commendation when she visited the CDS, at the Defence Headquarters (DHQ), Abuja recently.

According to Dame Pauline, “we want to celebrate and thank you (CDS) for launching the gender policy for the Armed Forces of Nigeria (AFN), which has encouraged other security agencies and paramilitary to emulate this modest achievement on gender equality.”

The Minister also appreciated the leadership of the AFN for supporting the implementation of the United Nations Security Council Resolution I325 which is the national action plan on women, peace and security.

She disclosed that her ministry in collaboration with AFN and security agencies is championing the course of women in peace and security in order to establish better networking within the defence and security sectors, as well as the civil society.

The Minister further lauded the efforts of the DHQ Gender Advisor for bringing all the gender desk officers in the AFN and security sectors under one umbrella body. She extolled the DHQ for championing the issue of gender based violence in the military barracks in order to create awareness among the youths and women.

Highlight of the visit was the conferment of HEforShe award on the CDS, Gen Irabor.

Directorate of gender

The CDS, Gen Lucky Irabor, in his response, stated that the gender based initiatives of the AFN remains a reference and principal focal point for the commissioning and enlistment of women into the Services.

The CDS disclosed that the DHQ recently established the Directorate of Gender to further project gender based policies. He expressed commitment of the DHQ towards partnering with the Ministry of Women Affairs in co-hosting the 2021 Security Sector Gender Reference Group Conference.

Gen Irabor, who acknowledged the role of women in nation building, stated that they should be seen at the forefront and more visible while given the central stage to showcase themselves. “Women remain the mothers of not just the nation but of humanity,” the CDS added.


Similarly, the President, Defence and Police Officers Wives Association (DEPOWA), Mrs Victoria Irabor, who commended the move, also advocated the proper implementation of the policy to enable it to achieve the desired goal, adding that the policy was poised to launch the Nigerian armed forces to greater heights.

In her goodwill message, Mrs. Vicky Irabor, reiterated the fact that sustainable peace and security cannot be achieved in Nigeria without the active involvement of women in all peace operations as recommended by UN resolution 1325. Adding that, “Women bring unique values and insights to situations”.