By Abang Dove
In the past few weeks, a lot of things trended in Nigeria including the unsuccessful passage of The Bill For An Act To Incorporate and Enforce Certain Provisions of The United Nations Convention On The Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women – the protocol to the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa, and Other Matters Connected Therewith, for second reading.
This gender equality bill was sponsored by Distinguished Senator Biodun Olujimi representing Ekiti-South Senatorial District with the aim of achieving equal treatment legislation, gender mainstreaming (integration of the gender perspective into all other policies), specific measures for the advancement of women, equal access to education, the strengthening of laws on violence against women, ending abduction of girls, sustenance and promotion of entrepreneurship opportunities among others.
Gender equality is achieved when women and men enjoy the same rights and opportunities across all sectors of society, including economic participation and decision-making, and when the different behaviors, aspirations and needs of women and men are equally valued and favored.
When this bill was turned down as a result of disparities exhibited with the votes, only a few legislatures stood their ground to make sure it was stated clearly to their colleagues and the general public that their position was not totally in line with the decision made by the Nigerian Senate.
The Senator representing Anambra North Senatorial District, Princess Stella Oduah who happens to be the Vice-Chairman Senate Committee on Women Affairs also made her points clear on the gender equality bill. The Senator released a statement analysing the importance and value of women in the society, listing out points in support of the bill and also insisted that the bill had to be represented in the Senate.
As an observant Nigerian lady, I was really impressed by this profound support given to Senator Olujimi by her colleague and friend, Senator Oduah. This togetherness and spirit of cooperation should be imbibed and encouraged by women from other sections of the society. And I believe Nigerian women will see the realisation of this gender equality bill if they work together, support each other and chant ‘Equal Rights’ with the same voice for the future of Nigerian girls depend on it.
Meanwhile, the number three (3) citizen of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Senate President Bukola Saraki also went ahead to call a private meeting with the sponsor of the bill Senator Olujimi and the number one critic of the same bill Senator Emmanuel Bwacha (Taraba South). The aim of the meeting was to come to a reasonable conclusion and find a mutual ground for both parties.
The Senate President came to the aide of women by making sure the decision was made and agreed upon by both parties for the gender equality bill to be represented in the floor of the Upper Chamber.
Equality between women and men is one of the European Union’s founding values. It goes back to 1957 when the principle of equal pay for equal work became part of the Treaty of Rome.
The European Union’s achievements in fostering equality between women and men have helped to change the lives of many European citizens for the better.
Nigeria, which is the giant of Africa, just like most countries of the world, needs to make gender equality a priority. Women need to be adequately represented in the Upper and Lower Chambers, and in every other arm of government and government institutions. Women’s voices need to be heard.
Although inequality cannot be totally abolished, Nigeria can still make significant progress in bettering the lives of women in years to come if we can start now.
This progress will be seen in the increased number of women that will then be in the labor market and also increased chances in securing better education and training.
Gender equality can be measured by looking at the representation of men and of women in a range of roles. This will help the nation understand the number of women represented at only low income jobs, number of women that are illiterates and so much more.
A country where women and girls are discriminated against in health, education and the labor market with negative repercussions for their freedom is no giant to me.
Abang Dove writes from Abuja. She tweets @abangdove
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