On 15th, March 2016, the Nigerian Senate rejected the Gender Equality bill, which aims at ending all forms of discrimination against women in jobs, marriage, divorce, inheritance, property/land ownership.
Since then not only has Twitter Nigeria bashed the Senate for failing to acknowledge women be treated equally with men, celebs like Uche Jombo, Stella Damasus and Toke Makinwa have come forward to speak about the rejection of the bill and reaction to the bill.
Stella Damasus took to her Facebook page pushing women to do more than post their displeasure on social media.
I woke up this morning to a tweet from my sweet friend and sister Kate Henshaw. The Nigerian Senate had voted against the Gender & Equality Opportunity Bill. If you are reading this and you have no clue what what the bill is about, Google it and educate yourself before you continue this.
I was quick to respond to Kate, expressing my disgust at the action of the Senators elected into power, hoping they would make the right choices for the people who elected them to have a better nation.
Over the next hour, thousands of people started sending me tweets asking me to continue the fight and speak to the Senators and urging me to stay on the matter and all what not. One person said.. “You were very vocal in the #FreeEse campaign and we got results. Get involved now for results”.
I must say that I am humbled by these words but “I did not FREE ESE”, I only gave my voice to a cause to support a family that identified the fact that they had a problem and were willing to go to any length to get it solved. They needed the word to be out there and I supported. I did not have boots on ground personally to do anything, but they got up, they moved and to God’s glory we got results. My point is, Ese’s family did not start and stop their noise on Twitter and Facebook…they got up and moved! Also, a big thank you to people on ground who took physical action.
How does this apply to this issue of the Senators? Here we are again on Social Media screaming at the top of our voices (or with the speed of our fingers) seated in the comfort of our homes yelling at people who are flying around in private planes and don’t care about what in the world we are shouting about. The don’t feel any pressure because they don’t exist or live in the social media world where we spend our time fighting virtual battles. We are quick to come out and scream online but nobody wants to get up and be the scape goat.
A big shout out to my darling Kate Henshaw who has never been afraid to take anybody on, face to face or via social media as regards National and Social reformation issues . Much respect to you my sister. Where are the others who have the platform, status, fans, voice and the connections to pull global media and call these shameless men to order?
Oh! I’m sorry! Nowhere to be found right. This fight right here is not the place to showcase pictures of trips around the world, designer clothes & shoes, luxurious homes, academic achievements, awards, paparazzi, applause and self glorification so only the non-high fliers like Stella Damasus & Kate Henshaw should be sticking out their necks while others sit on the sidelines and sip on their bottles of champagne, watching the drama unfold. They look the other way because nobody wants to offend the senators that will probably be available to attend their events, premieres and launch of foundations; and possibly make huge donations.
I guess what people are doing is PICKING THEIR FIGHTS, which is a lesson I am learning these days.
A few years ago, I took Senator Yerima on about the Child Marriage issue and I was left alone to deal with the windfall of that episode. Some said I was seeking attention, others said I was jobless and was trying to get back in the good books of people. That didn’t stop me. When the Chibok girls were kidnapped, I called out our First Lady at that time, asking questions about the funds allocated by the US government to fight terrorism! It was reported by some media houses in Africa that the US government was paying me to stir up propaganda. No problem! I spoke publicly FOR MY COUNTRY but I suffered silently and bore the consequences alone.
When my property in Abuja got burnt, what did the media say – IT WAS ALL MADE UP!
Why on earth should I keep sticking my neck out when the women in the country we call our nation are not interested in getting their hands dirty and doing the work. All the big female stars and politicians are cruising in big cars and living in their big houses, fully aware that this bill has no effect on them whatsoever so why should they bother about sticking out their necks. Their kids wont be given way as young brides. They own the homes they live in so no in-law is coming to drag it with them if anything wrong happens to their husbands. They are not waiting to inherit anything from their husbands because they are well sorted out, so how on earth does this affect them? Does this bill add more items in their walk-in closets? I guess Nigerian women are not ready to get up and take a stand so why should a couple of us just break our necks over an issue that we as NIGERIAN WOMEN are not ready to FIGHT & STAND FOR?
Mothers, sisters, daughters, actresses, singers, market women, female bankers, female politicians and every other woman reading this; the choice is yours. Sit down and be ranting on Twitter. Pour out your vexation on Facebook. Thats where it will end. When the markets are closed. When the banks stay shut. When the schools stay closed. When the men don’t get the loving at night! When the WOMEN GO ON STRIKE, maybe the men will be forced to do what must be done.
Liberia did not get liberated through Twitter and Facebook. The women stood up and took a stand.
I live in America with my children and I can guarantee you that this bill, passed or not, will have no effect on me directly in any way shape or form but the truth is, when we all choose to turn away, What kind of country are we leaving for the generation coming behind?
Whats the point in all of this. I live in America and I am still speaking up. What happened to all the big shots living in Nigeria who have the voices and are LOOKING THE OTHER WAY?
Lest I forget, it is very important that I say this…. SHAME ON THE SENATORS WHO VOTED AGAINST THIS BILL.
While Uche Jombo wrote on her Instagram page,
Read through the Gender Equality bill (2011/2016) These are basic rights! Equal opportunities for men and women. Let’s get this off the way ‘Women Empowerment is not a threat senators’ anything done to assist the Nigerian woman is done to assist Nigeria simple. How can you reject Gender equality bill? Every Senator that voted against the bill should hide in shame and the annoying part is the excuses they are giving as to why the bill is thrown out this second time. FYI there are only 8 women in the 109member Nigeria senate …… It’s amazing what women can do when we come together. Our voices MUST be heard. Download the bill online read and education yourself then speak OUT (2011 version and 2016 version)
While Toke Makinwa wrote,
All we ask for is equality. All we ask is for equal opportunity, all we ask is that our little girls be giving a chance and not married off at 18. All we ask for is for our senators to deliberate over issues that will make life better and not reject a bill seeking Gender Equality. We want equal rights in marriages, education and jobs. Speak up. #GEOBill
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