Nigerian women, you people have suffered oh! In the space of about a week you have had to deal with so many ups and downs that I’m surprised you haven’t thrown up on the rest of us.
First it started with the Senate rejecting the new Gender Equality bill. This bill to protect the rights of women and girls in everything from educational opportunities to inheritances from deceased husbands, was introduced earlier in the year but shot down by the Senate members. The sponsors then re-worked it in the hopes of calming the jitters of their colleagues, but that didn’t work either. It seems the rights, safety and indeed the very lives of millions of our mothers, sisters and daughters will continue to be abused for longer. One senator who is reported to have spoken of his opposition to the bill is none other than Mr Ahmed Yerima, the former Zamfara state governor who married a 14-year old Egyptian girl only to divorce her 3 years later and marry a fresh 15-year old. We speak of this Senate as the most educated ever but, in reality, the bill never stood a chance. A horrible blow to the future of Nigeria, this is a long discussion we can’t go into right now for brevity’s sake.
And then, before we could finish mourning the death of the Gender Equality bill, the actress Rahama Sadau was banned from acting in Kano because she dared share a brief hug and hold hands with a man in a music video. This ban seems like a punitive attack on the actress who for stepping out of the mould that the association has so carefully propped up. If they had simply banned the video itself from being shown in the territory under their control (and I chose those words deliberately), it would have sufficed. But to strip away the woman’s right to work in her field is arguably the harshest punishment that they are able to dish out.In other words, if a Kannywood actor was found to be a Boko Haram member and mass murderer, the association would dish out the same punishment to him that it has done to Ms Sadau. The only difference is that he probably wouldn’t be invited to work in Hollywood.
The Princess and the Pauper
But before the women of Nigeria could finish organising protest marches, the First Lady came out in an interview to express her feelings about the current administration and how it is failing not just the citizens who voted it in, but also the men and women who sacrificed to provide the platform in the first place. Now, regardless of whether you think her words make her a traitor or a heroine, her right to speak is without question. And I suppose we hadn’t fully digested her words yet when the President reminded her that she is actually the Wife of the President before she is the First Lady. His press officer came out later with a Twitter statement about how the president was “joking” and that he “believes in the abilities of women.” However, a quick peek at how he has performed in the area of promises he and the APC made in their manifesto before the election compared to what they’ve actually done shows where the joke’s punchline really lies. According to the “Buharimeter” linked above, he made 12 campaign promises regarding women and youth development and has only begun working on one so far. The joke’s on you, ladies.
But Nigerian women couldn’t really find the energy to object too loudly at President Buhari’s poor handling of the matter because they of course had to celebrate with the 21 recently returned Chibok girls. After standing firm for so long on the issue of the abducted girls, it is a great relief to all that at least some have been returned. The particular circumstances of their release are not immediately clear (hopefully they will become more so eventually), but even people uncomfortable with the idea that we may have swapped Boko Haram commanders (or indeed paid ransom money) in exchange for releasing our girls are not at all opposed to their safe return.
What I’d Rather Talk About
But at the end of it, my dear ladies, if there’s anything that we should really be discussing, it should be your breasts. Breast cancer, to be precise. You see, it is Breast Cancer Awareness month and I, for one, would like to remind every Nigerian woman that breast cancer is just another disease which, if discovered early, can be treated successfully. So please take a few minutes to watch this short video or, if going to YouTube seems like long thing, use the image showing how to check for anomalies which may be indicative that you need to see a doctor for further examination. This is a very serious matter and I would encourage all the married men to also support our women in conducting examinations at home.
To the ladies, from all the men; we care about your breasts. You should too.
Happy Breast Cancer Awareness month.