Fighting Back

Nigeria: Why are Nigerian lawmakers afraid of gender equality?

By Akin Irede

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Posted on December 29, 2021 11:58

A woman walks past Nigeria’s federal secretariat in Abuja
A woman walks past Nigeria’s federal secretariat in capital Abuja March 18, 2010. REUTERS/Afolabi Sotunde

For the last 14 years, Nigerian federal lawmakers have frustrated attempts to pass a law that promotes gender equality and protects women from discrimination. With less than two years to the end of the 9th National Assembly, will this jinx be broken?

A script, which many Nigerians are all too familiar with, played out in the Senate chamber recently when one of the few federal female lawmakers, Senator Abiodun Olujimi, attempted to get her colleagues to pass the Gender and Equal Opportunity Bill. Once more, however, the bill that seeks to guarantee women’s rights to equal opportunities as men was opposed by the male-dominated Senate.

The proposed law directs public institutions to ensure that a minimum of 35% of all offices, positions or appointments are reserved for women. It also mandates public or private institutions to take appropriate measures to grant equal pay to persons of the same level of skill, competence and knowledge, regardless of gender. The bill also states that a widow must not be subjected to inhuman treatment and that she is also entitled to the custody of her children after the death of her husband, unless it is

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