Earlier this year, Nigeria senators tossed out the proposed bill that was put together by well-meaning Nigerians on the ground that the bill was not in line with Nigeria culture/religion. Yesterday and today, I learnt that the bill did not pass the second reading. From what I read we have a document with significant edits to the one that was presented in March this year. gender_and_equal_opportunities_bill_national.
Edits to the original proposed bill means that section 19 of the original document about moving the age of marriage to 18 years old so that both parties involved in a relationship are mature enough to consent to the union is now out of the window.
To that I say; only last week was Alhaji Dangote soliciting for international help to feed the internally displaced people in the northeast. Amongst many things he spoke about was the recent 9 year old girl marriage event he witnessed. Aftermaths of childbride have never being the problem of the north alone, it is all of our problem,
Here is where I am hoping our traditional leaders in the south can pull their weights and lend voices to important issue.
There are so many things going on in Nigeria that at times when we take a step forward, somehow the leaders tend to find a way to drag some topics that makes one feel we are taking 10 steps backwards.
Here is a new one for today, and reason I hope Nigeria women home and diaspora need to get involved in whatever way that we can to stop NASS as they seem not to realise this is insanity.
As it stands now, my children have Nigerian citizenship because I am a Nigerian, being a woman did not stop that however, if the edited GEOBill got passed, Nigeria women married to non Nigerians will no longer be able to apply for citizenship through their mother.
Why is this new addition?
A few years ago a friend of mine from Senegal shared her story of fighting against similar law in Senegalese constitution that prohibits children having citizenship through mothers. They collected lots of signatures with many influential progressive citizens lending their voices, in the end, Senegalese government did the right thing and as of September 2014, children can claim citizenship from their mother. If we were to cite religion for this new addition – Senegal is 94% Muslim, yet they see the light.
It is shameful enough that in 2016 we are stuck in the past on gender equality issues but to think that the Senate are debating on stripping women of the little human rights should really bother every Nigerian.