Photograph — International Business Times

“I write for those women who do not speak, for those who do not have a voice because they were so terrified, because we are taught to respect fear more than ourselves. We’ve been taught that silence would save us, but it won’t.” – Audre Lorde

About 2 million women around the globe marched in support of the women’s march in Washington the day after Trump’s inauguration and the first full day of his administration. “Women’s March on Washington,” which is the biggest mass mobilisation yet that America has seen in response to a presidential inauguration, began as a viral idea on social media. The organisers said that the march is not anti-Trump — that instead, it’s an affirmative message to the new administration that “women’s rights are human rights.” The event is being promoted as a “march” or a “rally,” but emphatically not a “protest.”

Among other key issues, the march’s statement of principles states – “Accountability and justice for police brutality” and “dismantling the gender and racial inequities within the criminal justice system”. Freedom from sexual violence and ratifying the Equal Rights Amendment to the Constitution that would guarantee equal protection based on gender. Affirming that all domestic and caretaking work is work, even if unpaid; and that women — especially women of colour — bear the brunt of that burden.

“The right to organise and fight for a living minimum wage” for all workers, labour protections for undocumented and migrant workers, and “solidarity with sex workers’ rights movements”, comprehensive reproductive rights, LGBTQ rights, and immigrant and refugee rights.

Other cities where marches were held included Sydney, Cape Town, Nairobi, Rome, and London, bringing tens of thousands into the streets to stand up for women’s rights and civil liberties, which, many fear, are now under threat with Trump in the White House.

Hundreds of people, mostly women, gathered at the South African Museum in Cape Town on Saturday. They marched through the Company’s Garden to Parliament holding placards with signs like “A woman’s place is in the revolution”, “Well-behaved women seldom make history” and “It’s time for women to stop being politely angry”. The march was in solidarity with women’s marches taking place in the United States and other places around the world to show opposition to US President Donald Trump who was inaugurated yesterday.

Dubbed the Cape Town Sister March, it was supported by several organisations including Sex Workers Education Advocacy Taskforce, Sonke Gender Justice and International Domestic Workers’ Federation. “The march is in solidarity with what is happening today in the United States but this is a warning shot to our government. The way women are treated by our government is the same way we believe President Trump’s administration would do,” said Myrtle Witbooi of the South African Domestic Service and Allied Workers Union, addressing the media.

A pamphlet by the protesters expressed concerns that the Trump administration might threaten decades of international gains in human rights. The protesters demanded that President Trump must hear and submit to calls for women’s rights to be respected, protected and fulfilled within and beyond US borders; must support women’s struggles to attain the realisation and advancement of women’s rights to equality. The pamphlet said that all women must have access to the highest possible attainable standard of health including women’s sexual reproductive health.

Despite all the provisions of laws recognising the rights of women and the obligations of the Nigeria government, the lives of Nigerian women are yet to attain commensurate levels of improvement. Women rank lower than men in all indices of development in the country, and unfortunately, the rights and ideals have remained mere theoretical postulations without any practical bearing on their lives and conditions. Women are systematically relegated to inferior positions and they suffer violations of their human rights through violence in the home, sexual harassment at school and work, rape and defilement, early childhood marriages, sexual violence in conflict situations and during armed robbery attacks.

The patriarchal structure of the Nigerian society and failure of the National Assembly to pass the Abolition of All Forms of Discrimination against Women in Nigeria and Other Related Matters Bill – a national bill prohibiting violence against women – are some of the factors which are still hindering the recognition of the rights of women in Nigeria. The Sultan of Sokoto, a prominent religious figure in Nigeria, rejected the gender equality bill, which proposes that women and men inherit an equal share. Mohamed Sa’ad Abubakar said Muslims would not accept the violation of Islamic law guaranteeing men a greater share. Human rights activist, Bukky Shonibare called the rejection of the bill in March a sad day for Nigerian women and said it showed “how backward we are”.

Women in Nigeria must continue to push for economic, social, and political equality to secure the lives of future Nigerian citizens. It is high time women in Nigeria to take a stand and rally to fight for their rights with one voice because we the citizens have a duty to speak up against anything that’s wrong.

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