Gender Equity Bill Scales Second Reading in Senate

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biodun-olujimi

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THE controversial gender equity and equal opportunities Bill scaled second reading in the Senate on Thursday. The 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 to the African charter on human and people’s rights on the rights of women in Africa and other matters connected therewith, was sponsored by Senator Biodun Olujimi (Ekiti South).

The Bill is co-sponsored by 22 other Senators who expressed strong sympathy for the immediate passage of the proposed legislation, Olujimi, representing Ekiti South Senatorial District, in her lead debate, noted that “Gender and equal opportunities Bill” were exhaustively debated during the last session and was negatived as a result of certain observations raised in the course of the debate.

She noted that Section four of the bill dealt with the prohibition of discrimination and provides that no person, organ or agency of government, public or private institution, commercial or corporate body, community, or other entity, or any representatives of such organ or agency… shall either through words spoken, acts, inactions, omissions, laws regulations, administrative procedures, policy, guideline, rules, customs or practices discriminate against any person on the ground of gender, age or disability.

The Senator added that the proposed law seeks to promote equality, development and advancement of all persons in the country. Olujimi said that the bill also proposes to prohibit all forms of violence against women. She said: “All forms of violence against women are prohibited, whether the violence takes place in private, family or public sphere, including unwanted or forced sex, or traditional, religious or cultural practices harmful to health, well-being and integrity of the woman.

“All form of violence against elderly women including sexual abuse and discrimination based on age are prohibited. All forms of violence against women with disabilities including sexual abuse and discrimination based on disability are prohibited… All forms of trafficking in women and children, abuse and exploitation of women and children in any manner or way, and medical experiments on women without their informed consent, or on children without the informed consent of their parents or legal guardian, are prohibited.”

Senator Oluremi Tinubu (Lagos Central) who supported the bill appealed to her colleagues to ensure its quick passage. Senator Tinubu said that the contributions of women to the development of the country are to glaring for everybody to see. The lawmaker noted that the proposed Bill is really for the interest of future generation of Nigerian women.

She used the intimidating number of men against the number of women in the chamber to buttress the necessity for the Bill.

Senator Tinubu said: “I rise to support this bill and I also request my colleagues should do the same because we have come to a time in our nation that we have to really compensate our women.”

Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu who also supported the Bill described the bill as critical in view and experience of the women folk in the country. Ekweremadu said that whatever should be done to protect them should be done. He suggested that when this bill goes to the committee and possibly for public hearing “we need to do a proper interrogation of this bill to be sure that it is not in conflict with some of our existing legislations.”

He quoted Section 42 (1)(b) of the Constitution which provides against discrimination on bases of gender. “I think that what we need to do is to look at the bill itself and make sure that conflicts are eliminated at the time it is being processed by the committee so that we will be able leave the best of the bill that is served and consistent with our legislation,” he said.

But Senate Chief Whip, Olusola Adeyeye who is a co-sponsor of the Bill, saw no conflict in the proposed law. Adeyeye said, “I support everything in the bill. The Senate is fair minded. We do not want discrimination against any Nigerian. Of all kinds of discrimination, the worst is gender discrimination. The society that looks for equity must be fair. If we ask for 35 per cent for women it is fair.”

Senate President, Abubakar Bukola Saraki noted that the Senate is strongly in support of gender equality. He gave the committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters two weeks to work on the bill. – The Nation

—  Sep 29, 2016 @ 18:45 GMT

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