Bill on gender equality: the answer to the Nigerian woman prayers!
I don’t know why most African men always feel threatened when they hear the term ‘gender equality’ the elites among them might try to sound sophisticated and pretend that they don’t mind if women are in the fore fronts of things. Contrary to the popular belief that the bill on gender equality tries to give women upper hand over the men and make them heads in the family, society and nation at large, after reading the bill which is quite lengthy with 28pages I saw more to it than just a feminist extreme measure to empower women in society. The bill has caused quite a storm in the Nigerian social media as groups, individuals, celebrities and female politicians came out and spoke in support of the bill.
It might interest you to know that the bill was first presented by a man to the senate and since the bill did not pass the second reading in the senate I took my time to analyze the bill line by line,
Among the many oppositions raised against the bill the most prominent is that the bill is not in accordance with our African background where women are relegated to the background and the men are in the fore front of the family, societal, religious and economic situations. Needless to remind the naysayers, the situation of things have drastically changed, we are I the 21st century and by implication, both men and women play vital roles in the upkeep of the home. In the traditional African setting which some men are always quick to refer to, the man is in charge of all the financial responsibilities in the home, the woman takes care of the home and sometimes provide minor things such as vegetables. The bill ensures that the family as a unit of society that stop assigning discriminatory role of females. Every woman is conversant with this aspect of the bill, women are taught from childhood that house work and things involved with the daily running of the house are the duties of the female child, it is ingrained into the girl child psyche that there are roles meant for her as a woman, so while her male siblings run about the neighborhood she is made to cook, clean, wash clothes and serve her siblings their food. My reservation about this particular practice is that it helps to raise chauvinistic males who don’t give a hoot about their wives and they’ll go as far as to torment men who care about their women using derogatory terms such as sissy, woman wrapper, agbala etc. I remember a particular incident when the now famous bread seller cum model took a picture with her husband and the husband was seen carrying their baby, come and see bashing now, people said that fame has relegated the man to the background and he is now the wife because the woman has gotten money and the fame has gotten to her head, in fact some people insinuated that it’s just a matter of time before she’ll dump his broke ass. People who did not know anything about her took to social media to blast her and degrade her husband. Do you think that such people would lift a finger to help their wives in domestic duties? I don’t think so! Having said these I’ll give you five tangent reasons why every Nigerian woman must support the bill for gender equality:
It protects the rights of widows:
The bill states clearly that a widow should not be subjected to inhuman treatment as a result of the loss of her husband. Some might not believe it but even in this 21st century people are still subjected to inhuman treatment such forceful collection of property of her late husband, accusations, verbal and physical abuse. A very popular radio show know as Brekete family is currently handling the case of a widow who is denied land to bury her late husband and is required to pay a lump sum of two million naira to buy land to bury her late husband.
Also the bill gives widow rights to remarry if they want to, I remember reading somewhere where a woman with four children remarried and she was cussed out by people some even called her a sex addict. So it is alright for her to be sleeping around but wrong for her to get married to a man? The bill addresses such issues.
It aims to give women a platform in political and public life
For those who in the depths of their hearts truly believe that a woman’s place is in the kitchen, then skip to the next point. The bill aims to give women political rights to vote and be voted for. Women should be encourage to actively participate in politics and should equally be given opportunities to handle public offices. This point is very crucial, as Nigeria stands now you can count with your fingers the number of women in the senate or even holding any reasonable political post.
It addresses the issue of domestic violence against women
It prohibits all forms of violence against women in the private or public sphere and it includes harmful cultural practices such as female circumcision, mutilation etc. the issue of rape and abuse of elderly women is equally addressed.
Women will be given equal opportunity in the field of education
Everyone has a right to education whether male or female. It is not uncommon in African homes for the male child to be chosen over the female child in education especially where there are limited funds. Some fathers will tell you out rightly that they cannot train another person’s wife . Hoohaa! According to the bill women should be given equal opportunity as their male counterparts for career and vocational guidance, also stereotyped roles of male and female should be eliminated in all forms of education. You don’t expect me to study home economics just because I’m a woman. Just saying…
Equal employment opportunities should be given to married women
Often times, Banks, companies, and any reasonable or high paying job when advertising for vacant position will state categorically that they require single women for employment. It’s a little wonder why our society is flooded with ‘self – made’ women, past their primes who don’t need a man, condemn those who are married and sometimes these women out of desperation fall prey to any smooth talking bastard that promises them marriage. I have nothing against women who strike to have it on their own, in fact, I applaud them. I’m just not happy when women are given a choice to choose between their careers and their jobs. Popular Nollywood actress Mercy Aigbe was seriously criticized for advertising for a single lay between the ages of 22 – 29 to be her personal assistance. The bill proposes that women should not be restricted or placed at disadvantaged on the basis of their marital status. More so, maternal leave should be given with pay or comparable social benefit.
Forceful and child marriages will be eliminated
The issue of abduction and forceful marriages did not start today in Nigeria. The Chibok girls’ saga just brought more publicity to this evil practice. In recent times, we have cases of girls like Ese who were abducted and forced into marriage. This bill answers the marriage issue very well by stating categorically that marriage should take place with the consent of both parties and the minimum age for getting married should be 18 years.
Despite some fears that the proposed bill will give women too much power and control. It does nothing of that nature rather, the bill aims to empower women positively and help to create a balanced society free from abuse and injustice.