It is indeed a milestone as Nigeria marks independence ceremony today, of over six decades of being free from colonial rule.
While we celebrate this feat every year, a noteworthy question that have remained unanswered is, are women in this country actually free? Free to live their lives as they desire without battling and constantly confronting systemic inequality on daily basis?
History has glowing tribute of notable women who fought assiduously, put their lives on the line for the freedom and democracy we enjoy today. The likes of Magaret Ekpo, Fumilayo Ransome Kuti, Hajia Gambo Sawaba dedicated their lives to giving women a voice.
These were women whose contributions not only defined how Nigerians stood up to the colonialists then, but they also led active political and socio-economic movements that culminated into Nigeria’s independence in 1960.
The question now is? Are women being represented well? Are women issues being presented as critical issues that should have needed attention? Are policies and legislations being made even at the state level to protect women and survivors of all kinds of abuse? What about legal instruments for the protection of women? If it has been domesticated, has it then been implemented and enforced? How many states in Nigeria has domesticated it??
Or do we talk about political positions for women? Women are still few in the political and leadership spaces in Nigeria. Currently, only seven out of 109 senators and 22 of the 360 House of Representatives are women.
It is no gainsaying the fact that, women leadership promotes bipartisanship, equality and stability. Women’s political participation comes with benefit for the whole society, especially peace building and economic growth.
In fact, countries with more women in politics tend to be more successful in several areas such as, quality of governance, the quality of educational system, infrastructural investment, and integration of gender into the issues of employment and pay.
We implore Nigeria government at all levels to take advantage of today’s independence to ensure that affirmative action advocated for years, is applied at levels of government and women are given their right of stay. It is our earnest desire, all impediments limiting women vying for political positions are removed, especially high cost of party forms, party antagonism, unwarranted litigations, insecurity, political violence- like the current situation in Anambra state.
We also want a society that women are safe from all forms of abuse, cultural norms, harmful gender stereotypes, systemic inequality and vices alike.
About AfA: Alliances for Africa is an international African led non-governmental human rights, peace and sustainable development organization. AfA works with partners in around and beyond the continent of Africa to advocate for the protection of human rights; promotion of women’s participation in leadership and governance; build institutional capacity; advocate for gender justice, equality and non-discrimination, as well as promoting peace, security and conflict resolution interventions