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Gender Equality: An Old Struggle But Slowly Thriving By Adefila Abimbola


Throughout history, the role of women in the society has ensured the stability, progress and long-term development of nations, yet far too often, their voices, experiences, and contributions are overlooked or undervalued.

Although there has been progress over the last decades: more girls are going to school; fewer girls forced into early marriage; more women serving in parliament and leadership positions.

Still, they are underrepresented in politics and economic power as discriminatory laws and social norms remain pervasive; 1 in 5 women and girls between ages 15 and 49years experiences physical or sexual violence; has less access to basic and higher education; and are overly represented in poverty, despite comprising 43 percent of the world’s agricultural labor force particularly in Africa where 80 percent of the agricultural production comes from small farmers, most of whom are rural women (Source: un.org.millenniumgoals/reports/2019).

With the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, the little progress made on the rights of women could be reversed as the outbreak has exacerbated existing inequalities for women and girls across every sphere, from health and the economy, to security and social protection. Also, the recent rejection of the five gender-related bills by the Nigerian lawmakers is a clear indication that women are still being denied the opportunity of inclusion and representation in governance.

The theme Gender Equality Today for a Sustainable Tomorrow was chosen in celebration of the 2022 International Women’s Day. Gender equality is not only a fundamental human right but also a necessary foundation for a peaceful, prosperous and sustainable world. 

To attain a sustainable tomorrow, women empowerment is a critical aspect to be focused on, this includes: helping women increase their sense of self-worth, decision-making power, access to opportunities and resources, power and control over their own lives inside and outside the home, and ability to effect change. And this shouldn’t be limited to women alone, but also the relationship between men and women in society and the actions and attitudes of men and boys towards achieving gender equality.

Hence, to guarantee the rights of women and to give them opportunities to reach their full potential is not only critical to attaining gender equality, but also for meeting a wide range of international developmental goals. Because, an empowered woman or girl not only contributes to the health and productivity of her family but also to communities and countries, thus, creating a ripple effect that benefits everyone.

Therefore, I strongly lend my voice to appeal to the National Assembly to revisit the bills on affirmative actions for women. The rejection of such progressive proposals pours cold water on the concerted efforts to have half of the human community fairly represented at the decision table. 

It is my hope that our lawmakers would be inspired by what Governor Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq is doing in Kwara State whereby he signed a 35% gender inclusion bill, ensuring women representation and appointment in the State on 8th December, 2021. 

This is arguably the first legislation of its kind in Nigeria; thus, I hope the National Assembly would have a rethink and help make our political system and the laws governing it truly participatory and gender friendly.
William Shakespeare said, The world would be imperfect without the presence of the woman. 

The woman came out of man's rib, not from the feet to be trampled on, not from his head to be superior but from the side to be equal, under the arm to be protected, next to the heart to be loved.
 
Written By:
ADEFILA IfeOluwa Abimbola
Nigeria Youth Parliament Representative
Kwara South


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