“No nation can prosper without emancipated women and youth cohorts. For women and youth to enjoy this democratic right in our lifetime and for our continent to prosper, we need a reset – we need to Reset Africa.”Olwethu Leshabane
In 1908, 15,000 women marched through New York City demanding shorter hours, better pay and voting rights. A year later Clara Zetkin who was the leader of the ‘Women’s Office’ for the Social Democratic Party in Germany proposed that every country celebrate a Women’s Day on the same day. The reason behind the idea was so that women could unite across the world in collectively fighting for and advocating for all women’s rights. The idea was met with unanimous approval by the 100 women representing 17 countries in attendance at the conference. And this is how International Women’s Day came to be.
The theme for this year’s International Women’s month is #BreakTheBias – something women all over our continent are working tirelessly to achieve. Today women in Nigeria will be holding what has been termed the mother of all protest at the National Assembly after Nigerian federal lawmakers rejected all suggested gender equality amendments in last week’s Constitution amendment meetings. The fact that in the year 2022 Nigerian lawmakers not only voted to continue granting automatic citizenship to foreign wives of Nigerian born men while denying that right to foreign-born husbands of Nigerian born women is problematic to say the least. It has been reported that only 5 out of the 68 bills that were put forward to be amended sought to increase gender equity. Some of these suggested amendments included granting women indigeneship in their husband’s state after five years of marriage, a 35 per cent increase in affirmative action in political administration and leadership positions and specific seats for women in the National Assembly. The lawmakers also chose to deny Nigerians living in the Diaspora the right to vote – this speaks volumes about the current state of gender inequalities and a clear indication about the amount of work that still lies ahead for Africa.
In January AoS published a blog titled, ‘What will it Take for Africa to Elect its Next Woman President’ – where we highlighted the fact that at the current rate Africa will only achieve their proposed 50/50 gender equality agenda across all sectors in 130 years! While this may sound discouraging we still believe that we can accelerate the process by continuing to hold to the original International Women’s Day mandate.
As South Africans, we need to stand with and advocate for the gross inequalities that our sisters in Nigeria are currently faced with. Sadly, Nigerians are not the only women fighting for their voting rights. Currently, various Republican lawmakers in Southern U.S. states are working tirelessly to vote into law bills that continue to make it next to impossible for African Americans to cast their votes and make their voices and issues heard. In the words of our CEO Olwethu Leshabane, “At Art of Superwomen, we firmly believe in and unapologetically advocate for the socio-economic advancement and emancipation of women.”
Needless to say, we at AoS unapologetically and boldly stand with the women of Nigeria and we add our voices to the call for National Assembly to reconsider and pass the gender bills, which include Affirmative Action of allocating at least 35 per cent of legislative seats to women and granting at least 35 per cent of political party leadership for women.