Breaking down the barriers that hinder the development of women

International Women’s Day (IWD) was celebrated around the world on Tuesday with notable leaders, concerned groups and eminent personalities drawing attention to the remaining barriers that stand in the way of women’s empowerment and development and have called for urgent action to dismantle them. Keeping in mind the theme of this year’s IWD, “Gender Equality Today for a Sustainable Future”, Nigerian women took the opportunity to protest against institutional biases and cultural barriers that impede the aspirations of women in society.

The women, who have led the protests in Abuja, Lagos and other cities across the country, have been upset by lawmakers’ apparent disregard for the gender equality bills, which include granting a 35% representation of women in politics, citizenship and indigénat.

IWD is celebrated annually on March 8 to commemorate the cultural, political and socio-economic achievements of women. The JIF 2022 campaign theme: #BreakingTheBias is a clear call to world leaders, policy makers and gender equality activists to envision an equal world, a world free from prejudice, stereotyping and discrimination. . It forces us all to dream of a diverse, equitable and inclusive world.

Breaking down the prejudice that holds women back can only be possible in a world where difference is valued and celebrated instead of denigrated. Breaking down the barriers that stand in the way of women’s development can be much easier if we can all together forge women’s equality. During the commemoration of IWD in Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari applauded the virtues of Nigerian women and called for the occasion to be used to assess the vital role of women in society, homes, governance, professions and all walks of life. While acknowledging that Nigerian women are not yet where they should be, the President hailed the contributions of women to his administration as ministers, special advisers and others.

In the spirit of the occasion, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, the Honorable Femi Gbajabiamila, revealed in plenary session the decision of the House to reconsider previously rejected gender bills. Essentially, the Gender Equality Bills seek to amend the provisions of the Nigerian Constitution of 1999 to provide for 35% affirmative action for women in political party administration and appointment positions at federal and federal levels. state; expand the scope of citizenship by registration and provide a qualification to become a native of a state in Nigeria.

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We commend the leadership of the House of Representatives for their promise to reassess gender bills by lawmakers in the coming weeks. We urge the Senate and the House of Representatives to work together and see the merits of the bills. Empowering women, especially in this part of the world, will be a ruse without systematically dismantling the gender barriers that continue to hold them in the workplace and in politics. For Nigerian women to rise beyond their current limiting circumstances and contribute meaningfully to national development, there must be institutional plans to break down the stereotypes, biases and prejudices that greatly hinder their aspirations and development. .

At a time when the world celebrates the achievements of women, it is sad that a 22-year-old passenger, Bamise Ayanwole, was horribly murdered on a BRT bus in Lagos State, while dozens of women and young people girls are daily victims of rape, incest and ritual murder across the country and other parts of the world. It is also regrettable that many women and girls have been killed and others dismembered in the ongoing Russia-Ukraine crisis and other preventable conflicts around the world.

In Nigeria, many harmful cultural practices are still observed with the tacit support of some traditional women. These hostile cultural practices include female genital mutilation, harmful widowhood rites, wife inheritance and denial of property rights, among others. As we celebrate IWD, the World Bank’s 2022 report on women, business and the law reveals that 2.4 billion women of working age do not have the same economic opportunities around the world and that 178 countries have legal barriers that prevent their full economic participation. There are also countries where men and women do the same work and where women earn less. For women to achieve their goals in life, these barriers must be removed and erased.

For Nigeria to develop optimally, women, who constitute more than 50% of the population, must be included in its national development agenda, like other developed countries. Women must have access to education, jobs and national resources. There must be a deliberate effort to lift women out of poverty and misery. They should be part of the nation’s vision for economic and political development.

Mara R. Wilmoth