An initial draft of Nigeria’s gender equality bill, the Gender and Equal Opportunity Bill, was shot down earlier this year leading to an uproar from many parts of the country.
Gender activists who had been and still are pushing for the gender equality bill, to end discrimination against women in Nigeria, loudly voiced their disappointments at the Nigerian Senate for failing to pass what was considered a necessary bill.
The bill has once again made its way to the Nigerian Senate, although this time, it is heavily watered-down compared to the earlier draft. The Nigerian lawmakers are also not as resistant this time around and they say that the Senate will hold public hearings before the bill is passed.
Resistance towards the bill, which proposes at one point that men and women inherit an equal share of property is, however, stemming from some other corners. Muslim groups, which include the influential Tijjaniya Brotherhood, are heavily opposed to it.
In fact, the leader of the Tijjaniya Brotherhood, Sheikh Rabiu, has warned Muslim lawmakers that they will be condemned as “unbelievers” if they back the new gender equality bill. He spoke to the BBC stating that; “whoever approves of it (the bill) is an unbeliever, not Muslim”.
He continued with an appeal to the Muslim senators in question;
“I am appealing to all Muslim [senators] to never allow this bill to become law and if they do, we are going to tell all Nigerian Muslims not to accept it.”
In March, when the Senate had rejected the earlier version of the bill, it had been on the alleged basis that it was against Nigerian cultural and religious beliefs and it seems like the fight will be on those same grounds this time around. Whatever becomes of the bill will go to show if the attitudes of the Nigerian Senate were changed at all by the arguments of the public.