Earlier today, the senate threw out the gender and equal opportunities bill after it failed to pass the second reading. The bill, aimed at bridging the gap between men and women’s rights and to tackle the malaise of gender based discrimination in the society.
The bill titled “A 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 of the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights on the rights of women in Africa, and other matters connected therewith, 2016 (SB.116).
The basis for rejecting the bill was on the certain conflicts wit the 1999 constitution and the Sharia Courts of appeal. There was also deep-seated religious and cultural sentiment based on institutionalized patriarchy.
Nigerians on social media have been up in arms, blaming the senate for their failure to pass the bill, etc. However, I have a different take.
What happened today at the senate was really not about the senators. They were simply espousing the predominant view of those they were elected to represent. We must come to terms with the fact that we live in a society still stuck in the last century when it comes to women’s, child rights and that of the most vulnerable.
This is a society that is yet to come to terms with the Child Rights Act of 2003. A society where children are married before the age of consent and women are seen as possessions by their husbands and extended family. Let’s not even speak about what most traditions and cultures have in place for widows. Granted the bill would have provided legal backing for the solution to some of the things mentioned, but the Nigerian society largely feels no sense of outrage for these abuses.
I believe in equal rights and opportunities for women. I believe in the protection of children and the vulnerable.
Do you? What about your religious leaders or the custodians of your culture? Do they?
Don’t blame the senators. They were only representing us.