Citizen is a column that explains how the government’s policies fucks citizens and how we can unfuck ourselves.
It’s another International Women’s Day , and while it is a great opportunity to celebrate women around the world during women’s history month, there are still so many ways Nigerian women would like to see this day celebrated. It is not enough to create banners or launch a corny IWD copy, Nigerian women would love to see actual, structural change effected through new laws and policies.
Read on to find out what laws Nigerian women are looking to see changed or created to better celebrate Internatioal Women’s Day going forward.
The government should throw away stupid laws like women in the police force needing to seek permission before getting married. We’re long overdue for a new/revised constitution. It makes no sense that women can’t pass citizenship to their husbands. I don’t know who wants to be a citizen of this dirty country, but still. They also need to take out that nonsense law that says any girl/woman that is married is deemed to be of full age.
My greatest hope is for the laws around abortions to be changed. So many women have died and continue to die from ‘backdoor’ abortion procedures and the government keeps deceiving itself that it is preserving some kind of morality. We are way past that. We cannot stop abortions from happening because the consequences of pregnancy for some women are too great and there is no 100% prevention method therefore we need to make the process safe and accessible.
First of all, Nigeria needs to begin from the ground up. Start by ensuring every child is enrolled in school, and that every child who has their period has access to clean menstrual instruments. Also, fucking ban the states that allow any girl to be married before 18.
I’ll love to see sanitary product prices reduced. The government can subsidise taxes for companies making them. This is to ensure that girls from poorer communities can afford it. I school in Adekunle Ajasin University in Akoko, Ondo state, one of the most rural parts of the state, and me and my friend run periodical campaigns to donate free sanitary pads to secondary school girls there but it is never enough. It is an eyesore to see those girls go to questionable lengths to get money for sanitary pads monthly which are #700+ depending on the product.
For me to say what changes I would like to see Nigeria make would imply that I actually believe they would make any changes. Instead, the changes I intend to make in Nigeria include making not just physical health care, but also mental health care more accessible to people regardless of their social and economic status, ethnicity, and finances. I would like to create awareness around the need to address mental health issues in Nigeria. I would like for every Nigerian to have ready access to mental healthcare and actually understand the importance of it.
I would also like to be free to love who I choose, how I choose, and where I choose.
I want the laws that restrict members of the LGBTQ+ community from living the lives they desire, with the people they desire to be totally wiped away.
I want a society where a woman doesn’t feel the need to look over her shoulder every time she steps out of the comfort of her home. I want a country where terrorists are not glorified, whereas upstanding citizens continue to live in abject poverty. I want a society where people pay attention to accountability. Let people be called out on their filth. I want a Nigeria where I do not feel stifled and oppressed on a daily basis. And so help me, I would fight tooth and nail to achieve as much of these as I can.
To believe my government can affect any sort of real positive change would be delusional of me.
I want Nigeria to create better workspaces. Paid maternity leave (and some paternity leave so women with partners don’t have to do all the work alone). Also, I think every woman (and persons who have periods) should have at least one day off every month. The first day of the menstrual cycle is actually hell and it’s ridiculous that women have to work through it. And better education about women’s reproductive cycles in secondary schools, please. I hate that everything I know about my body, I had to read on the internet. I grew up knowing absolutely nothing about my body. Didn’t know how to calculate my cycle, didn’t know how menstruation affected my body and moods.
Section 131 of the 1999 Constitution lists the qualifications for the office of the president using the pronouns ‘his’, ‘him’, and he which suggests that only a man can be president. This should be reviewed and female pronouns should be included. Weeks ago, we all saw a female police officer who was sacked because she’s pregnant as the law states. Women are also not guaranteed equivalent positions when they return from maternity leave. This shows that the laws were not even created to benefit women at all but this is the 21st century and these laws have still not been reviewed. Instead of the Vice President of our country and Nigerian Banks posting silly fancams, these laws should be looked at. I also read somewhere that labour laws restrict women from working night shifts, asides from wanting this law changed as this is in fact not practical, labor laws that protect women in different working positions should be created and enforced.