Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters has fixed Monday February 19, 2018 for public hearing on the Gender and Equal Opportunities Bill (GEOB) 2015.
Announcing this development an obviously elated Mrs. Mojirayo Ogunlana-Nkanga, Lawyer and Gender Right Activist stated:
“It is with great pleasure and much anticipation that I announce to you that the Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters has finally fixed a date for the public hearing of the Gender and Equal Opportunities Bill (GEOB) 2015 on Monday 19th February 2018. The last time we were at the National Assembly for the same public hearing on this Bill on the 15th of December 2016, the committee postponed the public hearing till further notice on grounds that it didn’t form a quorum. So you can understand my excitement!”
Explaining the aim of the GEOB bill Mrs. Ogunlana-Nkanga hinted that the bill addresses discrimination against everyone and not necessarily women. In her words;
“Please let me state here, before people with prejudice disregard this message, that the GEOB is not a bill that is limited to the rights of women and girls. This bill is one that addresses discrimination against men, boys, as well as people living with disabilities.”
“ For instance, Section 4 of the Bill provides in clear terms ” No person, organ or agency of government , public or private institution, commercial or corporate body, community, or other entity, or any representative of such organ… shall either through words spoken, acts, inaction, omissions, laws, regulations, administrative procedures, policy, guideline, rules, customs or practices, discriminate against ANY PERSON on ground of gender, age or disability”
“Another provision states “…in the case of educational placement and school enrollment, including award of scholarships, bursaries, or such allocations, that parity is ensured for boys and girls, men and women;…”
She also had a word for those who say some provisions of the bill are already in the constitution:
“For those who have raised objections that some provisions of the bill are already existing in the constitution, let me explain briefly that the existence of such provisions in the constitution are not enough.”
“We need affirmative laws to address the problem of gender inequality. For instance, the fact that Section 42 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) provides that there shall be no discrimination on grounds of sex, place of origin, religion or political opinion… does not address the integral issues faced by women, girls and people with disabilities in our society.”
“There is need to categorically state actions which fall under the discrimination the constitution prohibits. For instance, it seeks to eliminate harmful widowhood practices that have rendered a lot of women psychologically incapacitated.”
She noted also that the Bill is most beneficial for men because it seeks to protect and provide security for their mothers, wives, daughters and sisters. It provides free health care for pregnant women, new mothers up to 2 years after delivery and children under the age of 12.
“There’s more to be enunciated on this Bill but I’ll leave the matter for further discussions. Once again, save the date of the public hearing and come out en masse in support of the GEOB. The passage of the GEOB into law is the guarantee of a brighter future for Nigerian girls and women.”
For more information on the bill please check here