Professional Nigerian women from various organizations today, 23rd of March 2016, held a rally at Allen Junction, Ikeja, Lagos to express their displeasure with the Nigerian Senate for disregarding the Gender and Equal Opportunities Bill.
Rita Dominic, the Nigerian thespian, was one of the women that made up the crowd, chanting “We want equal right!” This group also included women like Abimbola Junaid (Founder, Women Arise), Betty Abah (Executive Director, CEE-HOPE)…
The gathering was convened by Ms Laila J. St. Matthew-Daniel of Acts Generation and had the support and attendance of about ten organizations; Project Alert, CEE-HOPE, Women Arise, WIMBIZ, Acts Generation, Concerned Women, Media concern For Women and Children, Beko Ransome-Kuti Foundation.
Ms Matthew-Daniels revealed that fear and a lack of understanding is the reason for the rejection of the bill.
“We are here to talk about the Gender and Equal Opportunity Bill which was thrown out last week. It was glaringly clear that they do not understand what that bill is all about. They see it as losing control of their homes, losing control of their partners, but that’s not it. Gender equality affects both male and female. Gender equality is a basic human right. It has nothing to do with religion. It has nothing to do with our tribe or culture. Anything that is in the culture or tradition that is out of the human right – that is the right to be heard, the right to be respected, the right to develop at the proper pace – is questionable. That means one party is being subjugated to slave-like status and if they don’t know they will accept it pain. So we are trying to say, don’t be afraid of Gender Equality Bill, let it go forth because it helps the society.”
The founder of CEE-HOPE, Betty Abah, explained that the Gender and Equal Opportunity Bill, contrary to belief, isn’t an avenue for women to overthrow and lord it over their husbands, but is an opportunity for women to be all that they want to be without limitations.
“The Bill is one that will ensure equality of women in employment, education, marriage, not in terms of women overthrowing the homes, but in having equal rights, women being able to inherit their properties and take care of their children if their husbands die, women being employed without discrimination, women being sent to school without discrimination. We want that bill to be re-introduced.”
Acts Generation is a group that advocates for women and gender related issues, especially as it relates to domestic violence and abuse. All the organizations that joined Acts Generation for the rally are also groups involved in Advocacy for women and children.