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 that country.
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 workforce, promote the elimination of discrimination on the basis of gender, foster workplace consultation between employers and employees as concerns gender equality in workplace and in employment and also to increase productivity and competitiveness of Australian businesses through advancing gender equality in employment and the workplace.
The Act requires that every non-public 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 have been made and these were even reviewed 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 of the bill admits that the laws are not perfect and seamless for the purpose of protecting women because it needs to be implemented.
I believe that if there is a law, that a woman aggrieved can approach a court of law in that country on the basis of the law to seek redress. It is better to have a law that is created for protecting the Nigeria child, young woman or widow if needed, than to fall on the mercy of whoever.
When the Nigerian Senate threw out the Gender and Equality Bill at the second reading for the third time, many prominent Nigerian women cried out because it was assumed that with the advent of the 21st century, the men would be a bit less traditional than 50 years ago and that such when passed into law, can finally change and protect less privileged people like Ese Oruru, who was abducted last year and was allegedly forced into a marriage.
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 the 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 Ike Ekweremadu, Senator Ali Ndume, Senator Fatima Raji-Rasaki and Senator Binta Garba 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.Mrs. Aisha Al-Hassan, the Minister for Women Affairs, who was at the 69th Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) in Brazil said 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 Nigerian woman and the limits and discrimination based on gender that she faces and overcomes in order to be successful.
However, Abike Dabiri-Erewa, senior special assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on Foreign Relations and Diaspora expressed no surprise but offered sound advice.
She said, “Surprised that Senate rejected the gender bill? Absolutely not. Until women get together and fight this cause together, nothing will change.”
In spite of the present setback to the bill, the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, advised 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 the opportunity to consider different opinions.
“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,” Saraki said.
Why is the bill important?
The bill is being proposed to help surmount some of these challenges that women face in marriage, the workplace, in inheritance in case of the death of the patriarch, being at the mercy of male members of the family when it comes to land ownership and freedom of movement.
The passing of this bill will help recognize the equality of women in spite of religious dogmas, patriarchal culture, cultural taboos and traditions regarding the unfair treatment of women and girls.
The bill is important because everyone knows one woman at least who has experienced injustice, discrimination at the office, in the home, through child marriage or has been cheated out of her inheritance. At least, I know one, I know more than one. Many women across the nation 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.
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