Gender Equality: NCAA to re-present bill to Senate
Following Senate’s rejection, last week, to pass the Gender and Equal Opportunity Bill (GEOB), a coalition of civil society organisations, under the aegies of the National Coalition on Affirmative Action (NCAA), yesterday said it would represent the bill to the Senate.
The upper chamber had voted against the bill, after it failed to
pass the second reading, due to certain contents in the bill, which they said were against customary laws in the communities, and that of the Nigeria constitution.
A member of the coalition and the Executive Director of Civil
Resource Development and Documentation Centre (CIRDDOC), Dr Theodora Oby Nwankwo, who made clarification on the botched bill, said it was never in conflict with existing laws as being interpreted.
She said: “The provisions of the Gender and Equal Opportunities Bill are not in conflict with Nigeria’s 1999 Constitutional provisions; Rather, they amplify the provisions of the Constitution, including
Section 42, which prohibits sex discrimination and Section 21, which upholds the preservation of cultures, that enhance human dignity and are consistent with freedom, equality and justice.
She argued that the bill reinforces the complementary, and not competitive relations between men and women, which it seeks to achieve through equal opportunities, mutual respect and common benefits to both.
According to Nwankwo, “The bill will not take away family headship from men,” she said. Rather, it seeks to have shared roles and responsibilities for family life, noting that the term equality refers principally to equal opportunities to access, contribute and seek redress.”
NCAA restated that the agitations of women, are in line with Section 21, of the High Court laws and Customary Court Laws of many states of the federation, which empower the courts to uphold only the cultures and customs that are not repugnant to natural justice, equity and good conscience.
On inheritance of women, she said: ”the GEO Bill has and does not introduce any contention; rather it upholds the right of female surviving relatives of a deceased person to an equitable share of the
Nwankwo further stated that the bill would bring about development and advancement of all persons, male and female, in the country, and will go a long way in eliminating cultural practices like early or forced marriages, female genital mutilation, and disinheritance, which are inimical to women and girl child development.