Earlier in March Nigeria senate refused to take a proper look at issues surrounding gender inequality in Nigeria, they decided to throw out the document that well-meaning Nigerians had prepared which unsurprisingly upsets many people.
Issue like this one highlights how divided and opportunity to find better way to fight issues that unfairly discriminate against women.
Thankfully, we have few people to shed more lights. Amongst the five key issues raised, I found this one most interesting:
Under Nigeria’s penal code guiding the northern parts of the country, “Nothing is an offence, which does not amount to the infliction of grievous harm upon any person and which is done by a husband for the purpose of correcting his wife. Such husband and wife being subject to any natural law or custom in which such correction is recognized as lawful.”
Each region has its own special rules, example of this is what we have up here whereby northern Nigeria are allowed to do as they wish to women – childbride to give one example citing Sharia law.
In the south, we have our own poison even with high number of educated women. I read with amazement how women, educated adult women went on each others’ throat separating feminism from gender equality activists.
Anyone remember GEJ stealing is not corruption talk? Different issue but same mindset here.
So I learnt feminists are men-haters, wanted to do all that men do kind of women, they have been corrupted by western ideals, on the other hand gender equality advocates were the soft soul women who acknowledged the imbalance of opportunities between genders in the country but are divided in opinions giving bible and Quran texts as excuse.
I know when we have issues with definitions, it signals war-within. Not sure what the big deal is with definitions.
How about we agree these issues are human rights issues that require all of our attention, a necessary revisit to the constitution if we were to be a better society.
To see how gender inequality is so damaging to Nigerians in general is to draw examples from within our families, our communities.
For example, land ownership in a big problem for women regardless of where you are in the country. It is a family matter and we have been doing it for centuries is what people usually say, but it has never worked to the benefit of everyone.
Those who suffer the most are the ones at the bottom of the economic ladder – how is it fair to further rub mud in their faces?
If you have five girls and a boy in a family, automatically the father’s farmland belongs to the boy, even if the boy has no interest in farming and moved away, he has the final say on how the land is to be used. Many of these cases are resolved within family and no problem afterwards, however there are countless cases that just left women in the family deflated and powerless.
During Madam Patience Jonathan’s time in Aso Rock, there were waves of women advocating for women rights to inheritance in the southeast. They took their meetings very seriously, both within and outside the country attracting supports. I am not sure anything solid came out of this meetings.
In the north I heard women can inherit but has to be lesser than men from the same family.
In Yorubaland from what I have seen, married daughters walk away from land inheritance – not even a question asked, except if all offsprings are women or arrangement were made within the family.
This article on Nigeria land tenure is well written, helps to see Nigeria as a whole and how Nigeria rural women are disproportionately affected by both customary and religious laws on land inheritance.
A bit sad that even on issues that are clearly human rights issues, women can’t agree enough to lend their voice – I do hope we all keep learning and realise nothing is ever going to change if want to continue in the old, worn path.