‘Reworked’ Gender Equality Bill gets second reading in Nigerian Senate

Nigerian Senate
Nigerian Senate

A bill seeking to enthrone gender equality by combating discrimination against women has passed the second reading in the Senate, five months after it was rejected.

The bill, sponsored by Biodun Olujimi, is titled “A bill for an Act to Incorporate and enforce certain provisions of the United Nations Convention on the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women, the Protocol of the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights on the rights of women in Africa, and other matters connected therewith, 2016 (SB. 301)”.

It first came up for consideration in March, as Senate Bill 116, but failed to scale second reading.

Sani Yerima (APC-Zamfara), a known opponent of reforms seeking to promote women’s rights, led the onslaught against the legislation.

He was backed by Adamu Aliero (APC-Kebbi), and Immanuel Bwacha (PDP-Taraba). They argued that the Nigerian constitution already established the rights of all persons, including women.

Mr. Bwacha said he was drawing perspectives from the Bible and history in opposing the bill.

“It has been re-engineered to suit everyone,” Mrs. Olujimi said on Thursdat, assuring his colleagues when the bill came up for consideration.

The bill, Mrs. Olujimi said, sought to eliminate all forms of discrimination against women. She said the bill would guarantee equal opportunity, development advancement for all Nigerian citizens irrespective of gender.

The bill will also promote girls’ access to education, freedom for women to participate in any economic activity and their right to freedom sexual abuse, and violence in public and domestic spaces.

Olufemi Tinubu (APC-Lagos) and Binta Garba (APC-Adamawa), expressed their support for the bill as they did when it was first introduced.

Mrs. Tinubu said the bill was important not only for today but also for future generations.

“Women are partners in progress; we are not trying to fight men,” said Mrs. Garba.

Senate Whip, Olusola Adeyeye (APC-Osun), also expressed support for the bill.

“Of all forms of discriminations, the worst is gender discrimination,” Mr. Adeyeye argued. He said there should be “gender character” as there is federal character principle.

No senator spoke against the bill. It was referred to the committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters headed by David Umaru (APC-Niger).

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