I've never been more aware of the differences between men and women than in the past couple of years or so. Feminism, gender equality/inequality, women's rights, violence against women...and all such other clarion calls, have always been present in various forms throughout time but recently, propelled by social media have accelerated at an amazing velocity.
The battles being fought by women back when Emily Davison was killed by the Kings Horse at Derby in 1913, have transcended beyond the right to vote and receive an education to simply the right to be recognized as a human being.
Battle after battle being fought and the status quo never seems to change, sure every few years we'll be thrown some bone, a minor concession to make us seem like we're equal players, yet women in Saudi Arabia are still fighting for something as ridiculous as the right to drive a car, women in the West are requesting equal pay and the right to make a choice as to what they do with their bodies, women all over the world are being slut-shamed for being sexual beings, and here in Nigeria, the "Giant of Africa" a Gender Equality Bill is being opposed for a number of amazing reasons.
The Nigerian Gender Equality Bill seeks to undo years of patriarchy, mysogyny, discrimination and sexism by focusing on eliminating discrimination based on gender in the fields of politics, education and employment. It also prohibits violence, domestic and sexual, against women. It also hopes to achieve “the elimination of gender stereotyping, prejudices, and customary and all other practices which are based on the idea of the inferiority or the superiority of either of the sexes, or the roles for men and women.”
Now why, why for the love of God would any reasonable person not want that? Why would something that benefits over half of the population, at no cost whatsoever to the other half be rejected? What are you men so afraid of? What do you really think would happen if...God forbid... a woman had the backing of Law to do exactly what men have been able to do for centuries?
Well, let me tell you what some of our Nigerian men are afraid of.
One of the most ludicrous reasons being bandied about for opposing the Bill was that "it was in conflict with the Nigerian Constitution and negates the principles of the Sharia law, which the Constitution recognizes", this nonsense was spouted by Sani Yerima, a senator from Zamfara State who at the grand old age of 49 allegedly married a 13 year old girl. Yup, THIRTEEN. To put that in perspective, a girl who's in JSS2 or JSS3...a CHILD. This was not his first foray into the rarefied annals of paedophilia, our Nigerian Constitution and Sharia Law upholding Senator also previously married a 15 year old girl.
A key provision of this bill was to introduce 18 a the minimum legal age for marriage though...so we get why our righteous lawmaker was antsy.
Now this conflict has been raging for a while, so you may wonder why I am just getting het up about it. I've been SEETHING for weeks, but the final straw was when someone called Senator Eyinnaya Abaribe representing Abia State, said...oh my God...somebody's son, husband, father...said that the Bill was rejected out of fear that it would turn women into prostitutes, lesbians and make them abdicate their responsibilities.
It boggles the mind that a human being born of a woman (#NoMacduff) would spout such drivel.
This opinion goes beyond the the walls of the Senate and extends its tentacles all over the world, there are several men, and women even, who truly believe women should have no say over their own bodies, lives or choices. Who believe that it is best a man makes all the important decisions for them. That we are lesser beings as a result of our gender. That we are incapable of thinking for ourselves. That we cannot handle freedom. That no amount of achievements, successes...anything, can make up for not being born a man.
Nigeria is pretty much THE most hypocritical society I have ever seen. People constantly seek to police other peoples bodies, choices, lives...while flagrantly engaged in similar or even worse acts. Is this Senator trying to say since men are considered superior and have all this freedom, they are also prostitutes and homosexuals just prancing around abdicating their responsibilities?
A man who grew up in a household watching his mother take care of the whole family, provide financially, deny herself pleasures to ensure her children are taken care of, turn a blind eye to her husbands infidelities and focus on her children, turn to God every day standing in the gap for her family...it is unbelievable to see such a man truly believe he is superior because he's a man.
Not to say all women are model parents but more often than not, this is the case.
This issue may have been over flogged, but thankfully there are millions of women out there who are ready to beat this dead horse to life.
Women who stay ready to protest, to write, to talk to their women, talk to their ignorant sisters, to use whatever pedestal or advantage they have to push the issue of gender inequality. This fight is not only for ourselves, it is for our daughters, grand daughters because it is our mothers and grandmothers...all the amazing women who came before us who ensured that today we can get into a car and drive wherever we want, we can go to university, own businesses, own property, leave our houses without our fathers permission, marry who we want, live alone, travel alone.
The memory of the scores of women who literally gave their lives for our cause ensures that we stay strong and united and never stop fighting to be recognized as human beings in our own right.
The Gender Equality Bill was thrown out at the 2nd Reading but it will surface again. In preparation for when it does, we Nigerian women have to get in formation (yaaasss Bey).
We need to organize, break down the false information surrounding feminism and women's rights and show people that it is to a society's advantage that women are empowered. Engage young girls actively to ensure they understand the kind of world they're growing up in and arm them with the tools to survive. Raise your sons to know and do better. Shame your men into joining the struggle. Vote out enemies of progress like Senator Yerima and Senator Abaribe, so those that come after them will know their constituents are watching them. Become active ourselves and hopefully one day be elected to such positions from where we can influence decisions concerning women.
Your mothers, sisters, daughters, the ones that will come after you will thank you for putting yourselves on the line for them.
Remain vigilant, remain ready to fight. Complacency gets us killed, beaten, raped, abandoned.....
"Do not go gentle into that good night, rage against the dying of the light."
Love and Light x