How we make sure Nigeria's gender equality bill passes next time
The failure of the Gender Equality and Opportunities Bill to pass its second reading in the Nigerian senate should be a cause for introspection for the many women’s groups and activists. That is the message of this personal analysis by women and youth advocate Sartu Abiola, who notes that while there was widespread anger when the bill was dropped, for many it was the first time they had even heard of the bill despite it having first been proposed in 2010. Abiola asks whether feminist discourse and organisational structures promote silos of self-reinforcing communication that struggles to translate to the layperson, and criticises the lack of information or visible advocacy surrounding the bill.
The aim of the piece however is to offer advice for how the bill can be passed next time around. Abiola emphasises that while there are real, significant barriers to overcome, little will change so long as there is no pressure on lawmakers to make change. That requires young feminists to find new ways to organise that are more inclusive and accessible than they may be used to, and to diversify and modernise ways of making an impact on issues that affect them. It also means being flexible with regard to strategy, such as debating the wisdom of trying to resolve every inequality in one bill, especially given the likelihood for success in such a male dominated government.