Blood on the dance floor- Murder of the Gender Bills at the Wake of Women’s Month and IWD

Blood on the dance floor- Murder of the Gender Bills at the Wake of Women’s Month and IWD

I was absolutely confident that this year, 2022, will be the year of the woman. I have been opportune to participate in the championing and advocacy for women’s rights and advocacy in Nigeria.

My anticipation for the progress of Nigerian women in positions of leadership and political positions was at a hundred, I absolutely agreed it was overdue and about time. And why not?

Many women led organisations I have come to be a part of, while running my social enterprise focussed on young women, have worked tirelessly to push for Bills and policies that would finally see the future of women join in, and lead the nation to a better position.

December 15th, 2021, my heart was shattered when the Gender and Equal Opportunities Bill (GEO) sponsored by Senator Olujimi was thrown out by the NASS after millions of hours of work, energy and sweat.

Women, relentless and dynamic, never gave in, and so, strategic thinking and the push and lobbying to win in other equally sensitive gender bill begun. Zillions of hours of work and time invested into different bills such as the 111 special seats for women, sponsored by Hon Nkiru Onyejeocha and co-sponsored by the Speaker, House of Representatives, 35% affirmative on political parties and leadership among other equally gender sensitive bills continued.

My confident levels were off the roof. What can go wrong? Nothing! The right framing, discourse, lobbying, sponsoring, meetings, town-hall conversations was done. I was absolutely sure that this will work for us women. And why not?

In 1929, the role of women in leadership positions in Nigeria was truncated by the colonial government. A group of Igbo women challenged the Warrant Chiefs during the colonial era and demanded a reduction in taxes and an inclusion in seats of parliament.

The women employed a method of ‘sitting’ in protest against the exclusion of women in leadership. Igbo women rallied around and some blood was shed during this war.

By 1930, the results of the women’s war was achieved. Women were appointed to Native courts and other positions of leadership.

The 1999 constitution had 68 bills to consider and amend. The 6 out of this 68, which are called ‘Gender Bills’ were killed. Murdered on the dance floor of NASS.

The feeling of excitement in the wake of 1929, during the women’s war, must have been the same as I felt in March 1st, 2022. The Igbo women who engineered this war, were confident that something must give. No one expected that we will loose our mothers and sisters to the war, nor will blood be shed.

I asked myself on the 1st of March, 2022, after the murdering of the Gender bills, is history really supposed to repeat herself? Is this another women’s war? Has the NASS any understanding of the impact of women?

Do women need to shed blood, tears and sweat to be heard? Do women need to be murdered before her nation listens and hears her? Should women have to ‘beg’ to be given the basic human rights?

Women do so much more than we are accredited for. In the wake of International Women’s week, women have shed enough blood, women have been murdered enough. Now, action must speak louder than rhetorics.

And why not?

© Anuli Aniebo Ola-Olaniyi

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