The United Nations has urged the Nigerien government to involve more women in leadership matters, saying they were critical to the future of the country.
U.N. Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed said she spoke to President Mahamadou Issoufu about the matter during her visit to the country.
She in the capital, Niamey, as part of a joint United Nations –African Union (UN-AU) mission to the country.
“I stressed to the President the importance of women’s participation and leadership in preventing conflicts,” Amina said.
“I also underlined the need to include women in all national and regional responses to the on-going environmental, humanitarian and development challenges that Niger and the Sahel region face.”
The U.N deputy chief was accompanied to Niger by some of the top women leaders in the U.N., African Union, Special Envoy on Women, Peace and Security, as well as the Foreign Minister of Sweden, Margot Wallström.
A key focus of the two-day trip is women’s participation and leadership in conflict prevention, including violent extremism.
The security situation in Niger has worsened since 2015, when the first attack was launched by Boko Haram extremists in Diffa in the east of the country – an attack which displaced some 300,000 people, the majority of whom are women and children.
The presence of Boko Haram, whose goal is to create an Islamic state in the north of Nigeria, has been particularly harmful to women and girls who have experienced what the U.N. has called “staggering and multiple forms of sexual and gender-based violence.”