International Women’s Day 2022 In Nigeria: What Is The Way Forward?

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International Women’s Day 2022 In Nigeria: What Is The Way Forward?

Women all over the world commemorate International Women’s Day on March 8th. International Women’s Day is one of the most significant days of the year for celebrating women’s accomplishments, raising awareness about gender equality, advocating for better gender parity, and raising funds for female-focused charities. International Women’s Day is a day set aside around the world to honor women’s achievements despite divides and persistent barriers. It’s a day to recognize and appreciate women all over the world for the countless contributions we make to society on a daily basis. It has aided in the strengthening of support for women’s rights groups and political and economic engagement. This day is especially crucial for women in developing countries like Nigeria, where their rights are curtailed.

It is also a day in Nigeria when political office holders make promises to uplift women and pull them out of poverty, from the lowest to the highest levels of government, as women are promised of inclusion, involvement, and gender-balanced policies. But, not long after making such commitments, these same officeholders play ignorance until the following International Women’s Day, and the cycle continues indefinitely.
Erelu Bisi Fayemi, a gender specialist and the First Lady of Ekiti State, was stated in 2021 as saying: “Millions of women and girls still suffer from the feminisation of poverty, lack of access to basic resources, violent conflict, and the use of culture, religion, and tradition to render women voiceless. Crimes against women and children are on the rise. Gender-based violence, trafficking, displacement, kidnappings and so on make private and public spaces in our country very unsafe for women and girls. Nigeria also continues to record unacceptably high levels of maternal and infant mortality rates, one of the highest in the world”. Truth be told, nothing has changed!

On March 1,2022, the National Assembly despite the promises made in previous years, voted against female inclusion in political spaces; voted against 35 per cent appointive positions for women, denied women 35 per cent affirmative action in party administration and leadership, and rejected specific seats for women in the NASS.
Further, the lawmakers declined citizenship to the foreign-born husband of a Nigerian woman, denied a foreign-born wife automatic citizenship, and denied Nigerians in the Diaspora right to vote.

“Women play indispensable roles in private and public lives and deserve full support and respect of society for those roles. Our women also deserve support and encouragement to participate without discrimination or inhibitions in governance and public affairs in general. Our public policies should, therefore, deliberately seek to get the best from them for the peace and progress of our country,” Lawan said. Unfortunately, exactly one year after, the reverse is the stark reality as these lawmakers voted against gender bills.

The campaign’s theme this year is “#BreakTheBias,” and this has been a recurring issue for Nigerian women and girls. Bias and the necessity to eliminate it in order to have a fair playing field.

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Nigerian women and girls must be applauded first and foremost for their commitment and resilience in remaining strong and unbroken in the face of ever-increasing aggressive obstacles. Child marriage, female genital mutilation, girl-child labor, domestic violence, gender-based violence, bodily rights, polygamy, limited political participation, religious restrictions, underpaid wages, lack of access to quality healthcare, tradition and cultural biases, kidnapping, ritual killings, insecurity, insurgency, internal displacement, and COVID-19 are just a few of the challenges.

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