Every year on #IWD, brands and organizations gather around to create campaigns that show their solidarity for women. Each year, they promise to make the world a better place for us and pledge to provide a more equitable landscape. On this day, we get power lists of women killing it in their industries and people posing around for pictures doing weird signs. Armed with an arsenal of colourful infographics and pithy captions, we’re force-fed at every scroll and swipe declarations uplifting women.
Every year on the 9th of March, as soon as the clock strikes 12, and not a second later, we return swiftly to the regular programmed misogyny and bs. Out of the 365 days we get in a year, one day is used to come together as a society to pretend like we give a shit about women’s rights.
What does it mean, for the state of our rights, when we live in a country where abusers become Nigerian Idol judges, lawmakers strike down bills to promote more political participation for women and female genital mutilations are on the rise again?
What does it mean, when on the 26th February 2022, 22-year-old Bamise Ayanwole boarded a Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) driven by Andrew Nice Omoninikoron and was kidnapped and killed. Stories like hers are unfortunately not uncommon, pointing to a sinister pattern of our culture’s deeply entrenched violence against women.
When will our government sit up and do something about this?
As Nigerian women, we’re unfortunately used to the carelessly lazy way institutions and governing bodies treat our humanity and how we’re constantly trying to negotiate our personhood. We are told to pander and dance to the tune of the patriarchy in order to explain, yet again, why basic needs deserve to be met.
And why should we?
We shouldn’t have to explain why women deserve to be able to board public transport and not fear for their safety or why increased female political participation should be encouraged. We shouldn’t have to explain that women shouldn’t be asked daft questions about what we were wearing or why we couldn’t see the signs when discussing sexual violence.
I wouldn’t mind all the brouhaha on #IWD if it wasn’t set against this abysmal state of our rights in Nigeria. These lists, solidarity poses and pledges mean absolutely nothing if as a country we aren’t working to upend structures that have kept women with the shorter end of the stick for so long. The effects of these decisions are long-lasting and brutal.
Nigerian women are fantastic, it goes without saying, and this article isn’t about us not celebrating that. We should. However, this is about me quite frankly being over the empty words and fluff that #IWD brings. We want a safer world for women that prioritizes our needs. Right now, Nigeria is just not delivering and we shouldn’t stop making noise until it does.