A revised version of the Gender equality bill seeking to combat discrimination against women has passed the second reading in the Senate, the controversial bill has finally scaled its first hurdle five months after it was first rejected.
The bill, sponsored by Sen. 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)”.
Senator Sani Yerima (APC-Zamfara), a known opponent of reforms seeking to promote women’s rights, led the onslaught against the legislation when it was first brought to the floor of the house.
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He was backed by Senator 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 Thursday, assuring his colleagues when the bill came up for consideration.
The Gender equality bill, Mrs. Olujimi said, seeks to foster access to girl child education, eliminate all forms of discrimination against women, promote freedom for women to engage in any form of economic activity and also protect women from sexual abuse and violence in public and domestic spaces.
Senator Oluremi 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.
There were no dissenting voices against the bill this time, hence it was referred to the committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters headed by Senator David Umaru.