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Nigerian gender expert Esther Eghobamien-Mshelia, elected into UN CEDAW Committee

Mrs. Esther Eghobamien Mshelia
Mrs. Esther Eghobamien Mshelia

By Cecilia Ologunagba

New York, June 23, 2022

Nigeria’s candidate, Mrs. Esther Eghobamien-Mshelia, has been elected to the UN Committee on Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) in a keenly contested election held at the UN headquarters, New York.

The UN correspondent of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Eghobamien-Mshelia was elected to fill one of the 12 vacant positions, to serve for three years from 2023 to 2026.

CEDAW is the body of independent experts that monitors implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.

The CEDAW Committee consists of 23 experts on women’s rights from around the world.

Speaking with NAN after the election on Thursday, Mr. Muhammad Bandiya, Minister Counsellor First Committee and Elections, Permanent Mission of Nigeria to the UN, said Eghobamien-Mshelia’s victory was outstanding.

The official said Eghobamien-Mshelia scored 137 votes out of 187 votes, adding that only 94 votes were needed to be elected to the position.

Bandiya said 24 Member States nominated candidates to fill the 12 vacant seats, noting that one of the members withdrew its candidacy, making it 23 candidates.

He said from the 23 Members States, 10 countries from Africa contested and three countries won the election, namely Nigeria, Uganda and Egypt.

“Twelve Member States elected are Nigeria, Cuba, Uganda, Egypt, Sri Lanka, Israel, Spain, Estonia, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria Trinidad and Tobago as well as Japan,’’ he said.

Meanwhile, Bandiya listed the Member States that lost the elections as Algeria, Georgia, Germany, Ukraine, Zimbabwe, Cameroon, Burundi, Benin, Cyprus, Cote d’ivore and Burkina Faso.

Earlier, Eghobamien-Mshelia in an interview with NAN, unveiled her agenda as she pledged to implement robust gender responsive investment initiatives.

“We do have a long way to go to realise gender equality and for me, artificial intelligence, robotics are sub-sectors to understand in promoting gender issues.

“As a new digital economy is unfolding, I think, gender issues should be central to that, and I believe that a general recommendation on gender and digital economy is something I will work with you to achieve.

“We can push that in the CEDAW so that we have a clearer framework of a linkage between the new digital economy and gender issues.

“We need to understand the link between digital economy and gender issues so that we don’t reinvent discrimination and for us who in developing countries, there are new, emerging investment opportunities from the global North,” she said.

Eghobamien-Mshelia said she would bring her wealth of experience in gender issues to implement her vision and the mandates of CEDAW.

She said she would make women’s livelihoods count in the economic growth of states evolving digital economy, world of robotics and artificial intelligence through partnerships and collaboration.

Eghobamien-Mshelia said her vision was to protect women’s rights through digital and multi-sector response to Gender Based Violence as well as promoting women in leadership in public and private sector.

NAN reports that Eghobamien-Mshelia had served as a member of CEDAW Committee in 2018 to fill the void occasioned by the demise of Nigeria’s representative.

While she served, she set up the CEDAW Hub as a virtual support tool to enhance understanding of CEDAW among stakeholders for the two years.

More than 100 grassroots women’s organisations have been trained and are assessing the hub till date.

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