In 2010, a Gender and Equal Opportunities Bill was first introduced to Nigeria. Essentially, this bill would disallow for any discrimination against gender or disability, and eradicate any and all violence and discrimination against women in any given situation.
On Tuesday, March 15, 2016—one week after International Women’s Day—this bill was rejected.
The bill was rejected on the grounds that sections of it violated certain biblical and sharia principles. In a world where the sentiment #PovertyisSexist is alarmingly true, the rejection of this bill—which would help Nigeria take the first steps into becoming a more gender-equal nation—struck many as hopeless.
Here’s why it’s not.
The existence of this bill is living, breathing proof that change and progress is, in fact, coming. And that we are so close. While this bill was ultimately voted against, there were several lawmakers, both male and female, who were in support of its implementation. And perhaps the most positive news is that the bill is being modified to address the Senate’s concerns and will be reintroduced. This is all progress.
How do we make sure it succeeds next time?
We already are! Since the release of the Senate’s decision, many people (both women and men) have taken to various platforms to stand up for this bill and express their interest in the passing of the bill.
If this bill is passed, it could mean huge progress, and not only for Nigerian women. Because this bill addresses issues such as women’s rights at school and in the workplace, protecting widows’ rights, ending gender-based discrimination in marriages, and ending all forms of violence, Nigeria can emerge as one of Africa’s most progressive countries. Let’s make sure this happens.