What kinds of relationships do women’s rights activists pursue with government in order to advance their agenda? Human rights activists are generally expected to maintain an adversarial stance towards government, especially when monitoring or challenging abuses under authoritarian regimes. However, our research in Nigeria examines a less explored dynamic in which women’s rights activists prefer partnerships with government. Drawing on qualitative data from interviews with representatives of women’s rights organizations, we identify four potential factors influencing this preference: financial dependence on government funding, fear of state repression,
avoidance of legal sanctions, and reliance on international partners. In examining how
and why women’s rights activists choose to forgo more confrontational strategies like protest in favor of collaboration with government, this study contributes to our understanding of why the advancement of women’s rights issues may stall in authoritarian or hybrid regimes.

Leonardo Arriola

Associate Professor at University of California, Berkeley and Affiliated Senior Researcher

Matthew Gichohi

Post Doctoral Researcher

Liv Tønnessen

Director of Center on Law and Social Transformation and Senior Researcher