The Nigerian Senate has blocked a bill seeking gender equality and marital rights for women. The bill, titled “Gender Parity and Prohibition of Violence against Women,” was presented by Abiodun Olujimi, representing Ekiti-South, during the senate’s plenary session. According to Mrs. Olujimi, the bill would seek equal rights for women in marriage, education and job.
Gender Equality has been so much embraced by the world today, to the extent where people are beginning to loose grip of the fact that “woman” was created from “man” for a reason. Man was also placed as the head of the family for a reason. Although the view that both men and women should receive equal treatment and not be discriminated against based on their gender, is not wrong in totality, but most Nigerian wives would end up interpreting gender equality as “being equal with their husbands.”
However, Mrs. Olujimi maintains the view that if the bill was passed, a widow in Nigeria would automatically become the custodian of her children in the event of the death of her husband, and would also inherit his property. The deputy Senate President, Ike Ekeremadu, supported the bill. He said Nigeria would develop if women were given the same rights men have. He said:
“Only last night, I was going through a document prepared by George Bush of America. Those countries that are doing well are those who give women opportunities. Where I come from, women don’t eat egg and are restricted from touching the non-essential parts of animal. But now that has changed. What is needed is time and education, not necessarily legislation. We will continue to encourage our women. I support this bill.”
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The Senate Majority leader, Ali Ndume, criticised the bill, and urged Nigerians to stick with either religious or traditional marriage. Sani Yerima, a Senator from Zamfara state, condemned the bill, arguing that it was in conflict with the Nigerian Constitution. He said the bill negates the principles of the Sharia law, which the Constitution recognizes. The bill was defeated when the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, put it to vote.
The bill no doubt would give women a better stand in the Nigerian society in the various areas previously mentioned. However, in terms of marriage it is a two way coin. It may pose as a threat to some marriages when the women begins to question her husbands about certain rights she should have. On the other hand, when a man dies, his wife and children are protected by the bill as explained by Mrs. Olujimi. Hopefully, in time the bill may be reconsidered for approval by the senate.