Having failed to get the gender equality bill passed in the Senate, the women are re-strategising to beat the maze of opposition arrayed against the bill.
This time, the women are planning to use the wives of members of the Upper House of the National Assembly to restructure the bill and ensure its passage. Even the United Nations (UN) is not left out of the new plot, going by details of a meeting released in Abuja yesterday.
The push for a law to secure women is coming as another group laments that Abuja women have to contend with excruciating daily struggles to get water for family and other uses, according to Ummi Bukar, the Women’s Advancement Through Cinema and Human Exchange (WATCH) Project officer.
She said women interviewed in Abuja rural communities like Bassan Jiwa and Kayace, stated that lack of access to water was the most pressing issue. Interestingly, the other facilities (environment and health) that were voted as top priority in Kuchigoro and Karmo are also heavily dependent on adequate and sanitary water supply.
Following the rejection of the bill, senators wives forum meeting disproved the erroneous belief that religious and cultural rights are not compatible with the bill – which the Forum hopes will be ‘reintroduced’ by Senator Biodun Olujimi after necessary adjustments, following its recent setback.
At the meeting was the sponsor of the gender and equal opportunity bill, Senator Olujimi. Others were Mrs. Grace Ongile, country representative, UN women; Julia Bunting, President & CEO, Global Population Council; wives of senators/forum members and the media.
Senator Olujimi, who provided in-depth background and clarity to components of the Bill, decried its rejection and thanked the senators’ wives forum for pioneering the conversation and a process that will hopefully lead to a re- presentation of the bill to the Senate.
In her remark, Mrs. Ongile, who highlighted the importance of collaborative effort in finding lasting solutions to the more important social issues the bill sought to address, expressed the willingness of UN women to participate in the process and appreciated the forum for extending the invitation to the global gender organisation. Julia Bunting emphasised the significance of making the numbers create lasting impact in the process of attaining gender equality not just in Nigeria but across the world.
In her keynote address, the Senators Wives Forum Chair, Mrs. Toyin Saraki, stated: “Our second meeting comes at a significant time, a time when women’s rights and equality are being discussed around the world as part of Women’s History Month, as well as at the UN’s 60th Commission for the Status of Women in New York. For us here in Nigeria, the gender and equal opportunities bill which was rejected in the Senate two days ago makes this meeting all the more timely.”