Imperatives of a Gender Equality Act

3 months ago

On Tuesday, March 1, 2022, the National Assembly rejected five (5) bills that sought to set the stage for gender equality in Nigeria. Unlike previous Senate dismissals, the recent one attracted public criticism on social media and across the Diaspora.

For the record, World Bank findings indicate that women make up approximately 49.32% of the Nigerian population. However, less than 15% have access to political power and representation. This dire situation is perpetuated because most attempts to rewrite the narrative seem to be rejected by the federal parliamentarians.

In the space of 12 years, parliamentarians have voted against gender bills several times. These Bills include:

  • Bill to “provide for special seat for women in the National and State Assembly”;
  • Bill to “expand the scope of citizenship by registration”;
  • Bill to “provide for affirmative action for women in political party administration”;
  • Bill to “provide criteria for qualification to become an indigene of a state in Nigeria” and;
  • Bill to “give women a quota in the federal and state executive councils or ministerial and commissionership seats”

 

Meanwhile, research findings indicate closing the gender gap can potentially drive higher economic growth, productivity and stability. For instance, Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) could grow by 23% by 2025 if women participated in the economy to the same extent as men.

If Nigeria prioritises the recognition of women and their involvement in labour market activity, they stand to make substantial contributions that will grow the economy. Moreover, women empowerment is critical to Nigeria’s inclusion in the comity of nations on the frontlines of gender equality.

Goal 5 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) advocates gender equality; while Goal 8 promotes full and productive employment for all. If actualised, this will help reduce the poverty rate in Nigeria and possibly exclude us from the list of countries where citizens live in dire poverty.

In their struggle for equity and fairness, Nigerian women only ask that they are not stopped from realizing their full potential in their own country. They need all the support they can get to join their male counterparts in the governance and decision making process.

Thelma Ezeamaka is a Lagos-based Communications Intern