Gender equality is not just about placing both the male and female sexes on the same level biologically or in terms physical strength or religious doctrines but is also achieved both women and men enjoy the same rights and opportunities across all sectors of life. It embodies placing the needs of women and men as equally valuable and such equally favoured.
The very first bill that was proposed on gender equality in Nigeria was struck out by the Senate due to some clauses which they found too demanding and has since not been re-visited. However, a newly modified bill sponsored by Senator Biodun Olujinmi of Ekiti South region recently scaled through the second reading. Section 4 of the new bill, therefore, prohibits all forms of discrimination against any person on account of gender, age and disability through spoken words, acts, rules, customs and practices by any person or institution in Nigeria.
It will be a great success in the history of Nigeria as well as a breakthrough for the Nigerian people most especially the female gender if Section 4 of the modified bill is passed into law portraying the real essence of gender equality. Gender equality goes deeper than just equal rights for men and women to own and drive cars, we still live in a country where women are turned away from certain places they go to alone such as leisure venues based on ridiculous and frivolous reasons which all boil down to the fact that they are women. Why is it acceptable for a man to show up at a certain expensive restaurant or lounge alone to have a nice meal but unacceptable for a woman to do the same? Does that mean that a woman must be accompanied by a man to be entertained and accepted at certain places which are meant to be open for both sexes? Gender equality should not be limited to certain areas of life and must be taken more seriously. Let’s take a look at five major areas that will benefit from the Gender equality bill being passed into law in Nigeria:
- The labour sector: There are still certain jobs in Nigeria which are still tailored to the male or female gender. This is made more apparent by employers who specifically request male or female persons for a specific position. Take for instance, why is it still the notion in the country that a nurse should be a woman? Meanwhile, many developed countries are equally having more male nurses as there are female ones today. With the Gender equality law, both genders can equally and freely feel comfortable to undertake any job position that suits them.
- The area of child inheritance: In Nigeria, it is not just still a notion but also a tradition in many tribes that the male children are entitled to all or more of their father’s inheritances than the female children. Clearly, Section 4 of the modified bill is not being fairly applied when it comes to this area.
- Education and better opportunity for the girl child: Many Nigerian families still believe that it is right to train their male children and leave the female children behind in terms of education. Nigeria has gone a long way in expanding education around the country but still needs to do more to ensure that families understand that both male and female children should be educated on the same level and afford both better opportunities without holding one back over the other.
- Prevention of juvenile marriage and sexual abuse: Everyday young girls between the age of 10 to 16 are being married off in Nigeria in the name of religion or tribe. So many young girls are subjected to early marriage and end up with various forms of diseases such as the Vesicovaginal fistula (VVF) due to pre-mature canal knowledge or childbirth from an underdeveloped pelvic region, which is very rampant in the Northern part of Nigeria. This is one of the barbaric practices that must be put to a stop through placing serious emphasis on the importance of gender equality.
- The area of finance: Today so many women are single-handedly raising and providing for their children in the absence of their male partners. So we ask again why it is still the notion that a woman’s place is in the kitchen? Many Nigerian communities still raise their female children to believe that their place of success is at home and not at the head of a successful company or business. More emphasis needs to be placed on the fact that a woman has the right to pursue a successful career and attain financial independence as much as a man.
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