Why the Gender and Equality Bill is important?
While doing the research for this article, I came across the Australian government’s Workplace Gender Equality Act 2012, and the provisions that it made for women in their nation.
It basically ensures that women have the same remuneration as men in employment and in the workplace, support for employers to remove the barriers to full and equal participation in the work force, promote the elimination of discrimination on the basis of gender, fostering workplace consultation between employers and employees as concerns gender equality in workplace and in employment and also to increase productivity in the productivity and competitiveness of Australian business through advancing gender equality in employment and the workplace.
The Act requires that every nonpublic sector with 100 or more staff submit a report to the Workplace Gender Equality Agency between April and May every year. So obviously they have a structure in place to implement the laws that were made and even reviewed them in 2013 and 2014.
According to legislationonline.org, gender equality is an integral part of human rights and a fundamental aspect of a just, secure, and democratic society. Gender equality means equal rights and opportunities for women and men in laws and policies, and equal access to resources and services within families, communities and societies at large.
The Bill for Gender equality in South Africa is lengthy and yet the writer admits that the laws are not perfect and flawless in the purpose of protecting women because it needs to be implemented. I believe that if there is a law that a woman can approach the country on the basis of the law to seek redress. It is better to have a law that is created for protecting the child, young woman or widow if they need it than to fall on the mercy of whoever.
Another African country Zambia puts its Gender and equity and equality bill on the internet, it is in its 5th session.
When the Nigerian Senate threw out the bill at the second reading for the third time, many prominent Nigerian women cried out towards various media because it was assumed that the men were a bit less primitive than 50 years ago and that policies can finally change and protect people like Ese Oruru.
Rights activists say that the bill will promote women’s equality in marriage, inheritance and education. Some of the lawmakers who voiced opposition are Emmanuel Bwacha (Taraba PDP), Adamu Aliero (APC – Kebbi) and others, on the basis that cultural and religious views of Nigerians do not allow such.
Bala Ibn Na’Allah (AP – Kebbi) spoke on the issues that the bill would solve like discrimination against women. Senator Ekweremadu, Senator Ndume, Senator Raji-Rasaki and Senator Garba also backed the passing of the bill.
“This Bill has been coming in and out of the Senate, and the men have been shooting it down. Most men, especially from a particular part of the country, have continued to clash with the provisions of the Bill. They don’t want gender parity, and that is why they have been shooting it down.”
“This is not the first time; they have shot it down before. We want gender parity, even though many men do not want this Bill to pass because it will mean less control of their women” said Biodun Christine Olujimi at the end of the plenary.
Some of the lawmakers say that the constitution already recognizes the rights of everyone.
Many Nigerian women disagree.
The first woman who speaks out is Mrs Aisha Al-Hassan, the Minister of Women Affairs who was at the 69th Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) in Brazil saying that Nigeria is ready to eliminate gender-based violence. Senator Biodun Olujimi, the Deputy Minority Whip of the Senate, who sponsored the bill said that the purpose of that bill is to protect the future of the girl child and the everyday Nigerian woman and the limits and discrimination based on gender that she faces and overcomes in order to be successful.
From research, the bill is being proposed to help surmount some of these challenges that women face in marriage, the workplace, inheritance in case of the death of patriarch, being at the mercy of male members of the family when it comes to land ownership and freedom of movement. Passing of this bill will help recognize the equality of women in spite of religious dogma, patriarchal culture, cultural taboos and traditions regarding the unfair treatment of women and girls.
Female celebrities such as Kate Henshaw, Stella Damascus, Uche Jombo, Toke Makinwa and more have spoken out about the bill being thrown but more women have stayed silent than have spoken, maybe they have a plan.
The Senate President, Bukola Saraki, has said that “the bill be amended and reintroduced. Some senators disagreed with some parts of the bill because of tradition and religion. The bill can still be represented and reconsidered on the senate floor that since it was a democracy there was opportunity to consider different opinions.
Saraki speaking said that: “Such bills like the Equal Access to Education, Strengthening of the laws on Violence against Women, Ending Abduction of Girls, Sustenance and Promotion of Entrepreneurship Opportunities, Gender Mainstreaming and Gender equality are equally important,” he said.
Abike Dabiri-Erewa expressed no surprise but offered sound advice:
Surprised that Senate rejected the gender bill? Absolutely not. Until women get together and fight this cause together, nothing will change
— Abike Dabiri-Erewa (@abikedabiri) March 16, 2016
Why is the bill important?
The bill is important because everyone knows one woman at least who has experienced injustice, discrimination at the office, child marriage, or has been cheated out of her inheritance. At least I know one, I know more than one. Many women across Nigeria daily go through these injustices that make life miserable and I have shared in their pain and if possible, I would help be the solution and I believe that is what Senator Biodun Olujimi is fighting for. What every woman should be fighting for and what the men who love them should be fighting for because we can’t make it work without the support of all, men and women.