The Missing Gender Equality Bill

 picture courtesy of CEO Magazine, Emma Watson

Here in The Bahamas, we are involved in a gender equality battle that has lasted more than 40 years.  A referendum was conducted in 2002 where the majority of the Bahamian people that voted, voted "No" to all Gender Equality bills. Yes, yes, I know.  I can't believe it either.

It's now 2016, and all eyes are on the upcoming referendum with the amended Bills (2014). It is now a serious call to action. A gender-focused call to action to help accelerate the need to institute full equality between men and women in matters of citizenship and, more broadly, to eliminate discrimination in The Bahamas based on sex. 

First, allow me to bring our International readers up to speed.

On March 2, our Members of Parliament voted yes (for the second time) and passed four amended Gender Equality Bills. The communication to the House of Assembly by The Prime Minister & Minister of Finance and Member for Centerville (constituency) plainly explains each bill as follows...

Bill # 1: The Bahamas Constitution (Amendment) Bill, 2014

This bill seeks to give a child born outside The Bahamas to a Bahamian-born mother and non-Bahamian father the same automatic right to Bahamian citizenship that the Constitution already gives to a child born outside of The Bahamas to a Bahamian-born father and a non-Bahamian mother. 

Bill # 2: The Bahamas Constitution (Amendment) (No. 2) Bill, 2014

This bill seeks to enable a Bahamian woman who marries a foreign man to secure for him the same access to Bahamian citizenship that a Bahamian man has always enjoyed under the Constitution in relation to his foreign spouse.

Bill # 3 : The Bahamas Constitution (Amendment) (No.3) Bill, 2014

At present, an unwed Bahamian father cannot pass his citizenship to a child born to a foreign woman. A right that a Bahamian woman has always had under the Constitution in relation to a child born to her out of wedlock.
See there. Gender equality does not only mean for women. Both men and women ought to enjoy the same privileges! 
Bill # 4: The Bahamas Constitution (Amendment) (No. 4) Bill, 2014

This bill seeks to end the discrimination based on sex. This involves the insertion of the word "sex" in Article 26 of the Constitution so as to make it unconstitutional to discriminate based on whether someone is male or female.

BUT wait, they missed Bill No. 5

Huh?! What Bill No.5 you ask?

This Bill....

Bill # 5: The Bahamas Constitution (No. 5) Bill, 2016

This bill seeks to create gender equality WITHIN THE HOME.  This involves an equal division of household duties and interaction with the children. No chore or task should be expected to be carried out by any gender in particular. Get 'er done. If ya husband arrives home before you then he should begin dinner (or prepare food of some sort), bathe the children, and assist with the freakin' homework. Women, take out the garbage, mow the lawn, and replace the damn light bulb.

See there. Gender equality does not only mean for women. Both men and women ought to enjoy the same privileges!

You see, if we are going to fight for equal rights, it should be across the board and it ought to start in the home. Don't you think? As it stands, I imagine women have to negotiate the "terms" of running the household with their husbands. Negotiate what they need "assistance" with household chores and with the children. For example, why isn't it an automatic thing for the man to wake up in the morning and get the children up and ready for school? For the men that do it, is it in fact an automatic behaviour of yours or is it due to the negotiations with the wife? I would like feedback on that.

I figure, if we want to see true change in equality between men and women, it begins within the four walls of your home. Children watch and learn from us parents.  They witness first hand which tasks "belong" to who and will carry that with them into adulthood. The cycle then continues.

Gone are the days of women trying to be Superwoman or She-Ra, whichever you prefer. Glorifying the fact that I can "bare the children then get back to business" (said in my hardest Beyonce voice ever). It is a fallacy. You will run yourself right into the ground. Guaranteed. And that ain't cute nor healthy.

Husbands, I ask you this...

What task(s) are you NOT doing simply because you automatically expect/think/believe your wife will handle it?

Women, this is a two way street. We can't expect to be treated equally if we are not willing to accept and do certain tasks we feel (and expect) are the duties of a man. It doesn't work that way, eh? 

Wives, I ask you this...

What task(s) are you NOT doing simply because you automatically expect/think/believe your husband will handle it?

So, let's start doing them. If these tasks weren't on your radar before, let's be more conscious about them and DO IT! Over and over and over. Practice makes perfect! Soon our actions will become automatic and allow for the clearly defined lines of gender roles to crawl in a dark hole and die.

Emma Watson said "Gender equality not only liberates women but also men from prescribed gender stereotypes." We must continue the fight outside of the home by all means but let's admit it,  

Gender equality begins at home!

#VoteYesBahamas to everything...(including No. 5 hehe), Candilaria

No comments: