A socially just society is one where men and women are not ranked, but linked, connected, complementing each other as equals. Yes it’s true that we men are trash for creating and sustaining a society that oppresses anyone else who does not conform to the patriarchal norm; biologically, socially or both. It’s also true that as men, we have an urgent and active role to play in righting this wrong by using the capital that male privilege bestows us to enforce a culture of equality. Over the last couple of decades we have seen the global ascension of women into relatively more power and social capital than before. We can and must do more to balance the scales; and share and create opportunities and spaces for women to be seen and heard to amplify their presence and their voices. It is a call for the end of male domination. A call for equal access to, well, everything.

Yes, I am an intersectional feminist.

I caught wind of a bill in Nigeria, The Gender and Equal Opportunity Bill, that was turned down in the Senate yesterday. This bill is entrenched in the Nigerian constitution and ratifies various global human rights instruments that protect women . It outlaws  any form of discrimination based on gender, age and disability and advocates for the “promotion of equality, full development and advancement of all persons.” Yeah, that’s the thing about justice, it’s always inclusive, yet

Those who turned down the bill cited religious convictions as reason. Pssssh! I cannot, for the the life of me, fathom how, in this day and age, anyone sane can vote “no” to a legislation that seeks to protect women against violence and systematic discrimination? I just can’t!

Reading through the bill, I think it is a sound piece of legislation, give or take one or two reservations. You can check Some of its provisions include:

  • Protection from all forms of violence against women, private or public, including unwanted traditional, religious or cultural practices harmful to the health, well being and integrity of the woman.
  • Modification of socio-cultural practices to eliminate gender stereotyping, prejudices, and customary practises “based on the idea of the inferiority or the superiority of either of the sexes”
  • The abolition of inhuman treatment of widows, the instatement of widows as guardians of their children (in the interest of the children), the right to inherit and own their matrimonial property, the right to remarry a person of their choice and retain ownership of property in the case of remarrying.
  • The right of women to inherit their parents’ properties
  • The right to access quality healthcare
  • That the protection of “the maternity status and reproductive health of women [in the workplace]… not be considered discriminatory”
  • The right to chose to terminate pregnancies in the case of sexual abuse or health hazard. Frankly, this should have been a pro-choice provision
  • One of my favourite clauses:  that “the family as a unit of society shall ensure that values, practices or other forms of rearing of children, ward and young people in the family and community, or other forms of socialization, is not discriminatory, and promotes a proper understanding of maternity as a social function and the recognition of the common responsibility of men and women in the upbringing and development of their children.”
  • Equality in access to education with defined quotas to be used in both private and public institutions to ensure that women are represented. The bill quotes 35% representation for women. The same quota would be reserved in work places too, both private and public
  • Read/ download the bill here>>>

Why, in the 21st century, would any sane, rational group of people vote “nay” to such a bill?

Bisi Fayemi response to Nigeria Senate

Women’s Rights Activist Bisi Faye’s response to the decision. Image courtesy of her Twitter feed (@BisiFayemi)