Breaking The Bias: Gender Equality Today For A Sustainable Tomorrow By YC Maikyau, SAN

Breaking The Bias: Gender Equality Today For A Sustainable Tomorrow By YC Maikyau, SAN

The 8th day of March is set aside as International Women’s Day; a day to commemorate the cultural, political and socio-economic achievements of women. We celebrate the giant strides that women have made in the pursuit of gender equality, the elimination of all forms of discrimination and gender based violence.

Regrettably and to the detriment of sustainable development in most societies, there have been drawbacks that have withstood the realisation of the full potentials of women and girls all over the world. This year’s theme, “Break the Bias”, aptly exposes bias as a catalyst for gender-based discrimination. It also instructs us to put an end to it, so that we can pull down the obstacles to gender equality and indeed the progressive evolution of our society.

In Nigeria, the contribution of women to the development of the legal profession is undeniable. We therefore must continue to ensure that female lawyers are afforded the enabling environment to thrive and attain the greatest height in whatever area professional expertise of their choice. We must begin to embrace institutional policies that de-emphasise cultural, social and religious stereotypes which undermine professionalism and achievements of women in the legal profession – stereotypes that have not only stalled the development of the legal profession, but also have hampered the productivity and well-being of women in the profession. We must also adopt reward systems that promote gender equality and assure the empowerment of our female colleagues. The leadership of the profession must take practical steps in support of gender equality and the time to act is now!

The Violence Against Persons (Prohibition) Act/Laws of various states are radical pieces of legislations that have bolstered the fight against sexual offences and other ills militating especially against women. However, they are only foundational steps in our nation’s journey towards gender equality across all spectra. There is so much more work to be done.

The recent events at the National Assembly, such as the non-passage of the Bills seeking to confer citizenship to foreign born husbands of Nigerian women; seeking specific seats for women in the National Assembly; seeking 35% affirmative action for women in appointed positions and political party administration and; for women to enjoy the latitude to become indigenes of their husbands’ states after five years of marriage, may not have gone down well with the proponents of these rights, but that notwithstanding, it is not time to lose steam and drop out of the fight.

Gender equality is too crucial for the growth of any society, not the least the Nigerian State, and it is a pursuit that cannot be abandoned. Aggressive legislative advocacy for both domestic laws and international instruments need to be reinforced and sustained. Laws ensuring that the concerns of women are considered and given due attention in all facets of our national life should be our focus, and with persistence and resilience it is hoped that we will steadily dismantle the hampering biases against women. It is also expected that wise counsel will eventually prevail.

The need to better appreciate, cement and embrace women’s place in the society cannot be overemphasised. Educate a woman, and you educate a nation; empower a woman and you empower a nation; liberate a woman and the entire nation is liberated.


Chairman, NBA Welfare Committee

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