As the world marks yet another International Women’s Day on March 8, 2022, with the campaign theme #BreaktheBias, Project Alert on Violence Against Women cannot but note the extreme bias and discrimination against women in Nigeria by federal legislators at the recent plenary session during which they voted on 68 bills seeking to amend the 1999 constitution.
The legislators (95.5% men) voted against bills seeking to end gender discrimination in the constitution such as citizenship for foreign husbands of Nigerian women; “statelessness” of married Nigerian women; 35% affirmative action in party administration & leadership; 35% political appointment positions for women; diaspora voting etc.
The actions of the federal legislators speak volumes about the rollback Nigerian women are experiencing in promoting and protecting their rights and achieving gender equality and equity. Nigeria cannot make progress without its women and girls.
Project Alert on Violence Against Women along with several other women’s rights and human rights organizations have over the years and decades advocated for and made progress in promoting and protecting the rights of women and girls. We have come a long way and will not allow the 9th National Assembly and its legislators, to take us back. They must #BreaktheBias against Nigerian women.
This year’s theme, #BreakingtheBias is a wake-up call and places responsibility on society and the world as a whole to call out various forms of gender bias, gender stereotypes, and inequality in society, and work towards addressing them. We should collectively help create an all-encompassing world where women and men are equally represented and equally treated.
For us at Project Alert, the theme for this year’s IWD resonates as we work with community groups to break the barriers and biases against ending violence against women and girls. We have set up SGBV Community surveillance teams in about fifteen LGAs in Lagos, and eight (8) in Sokoto. These have been done with support from the EU-UN Spotlight Initiative Project and the African Women Development Fund, AWDF.
The surveillance teams made up of men and women in the communities, have been taken the lead in reaching out to various stakeholders, individuals and families in their respective communities. Indeed #BreaktheBias they are doing.
We are on this day launching a social media video on sexual and gender-based violence to publicise the great work these teams are doing in 3 local government areas in Lagos – Apapa, Mushin and Ifako-Ijaiye.
We encourage the Nigerian government and our legislators in particular, to note the important work being done by ordinary citizens to #BreaktheBias and encourage rather than discourage them by voting discriminatorily against women. We use this day to call for a renewed sense of dedication and commitment as we collectively as a nation, continue to strive to empower women and girls.
We will continue to emphasize that women should exercise their rights fully, use their voices freely, determine their life outcomes, and live their lives free from intimidation, harassment, and violence.
The world will definitely be a better place without gender bias.
Josephine Effah-Chukwuma, Executive Director.