The Cable: Gender equality bill does not seek to erode the rights of men

Contrary to the belief that the gender equality bill seeks to violate religious laws, the legislation just promotes fairness and justice for both sexes and adherents of all religions in Nigeria.

Biodun Olujimi, a senator from Ekiti state, first presented  the bill in March 2016, but it was shot down by a faction of senators led by Ahmed Yerima from Zamfara state.

Yerima had said the bill was against the tenets of sharia law because it proposed to erode men’s rights by eliminating discrimination in areas of marriage, divorce, education, employment opportunities, ownership of property and inheritance.

He was supported by senators like Adamu Aliero (Kebbi state) and Emmanuel Bwacha (Taraba state).
Majority of the senators voted that the bill be trashed.

Senate President Bukola Saraki had assured Nigerians, who protested the non-passage of the bill, that it could be re-introduced after being reworked to pull out paragraphs that an all-male opposition described as offensive.

Olujimi reintroduced it to the senate five months later, precisely in September, rewording certain parts that were considered “offensive”.

Senator-Biodun-Olujimi

Olujimi at the red chamber

 

This time, with watered down contents, it scaled through second reading. Yet some people received it with angst. Sa’ad Abubakar, the sultan of Sokoto, rejected the bill.

The sultan, who is the president-general of the Nigeria Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs(NSCIA), had rejected the bill on the premise that it negates the principles of Islam.

But it wasn’t only the Sultan opposed the bill, Muslim women under the body of federation of Muslim women association of Nigeria (FOMWAN) aligned with the sentiments of the monarch.

“The share of a woman or girls is not necessarily equal to that of their female counterparts who are also partaking in the inheritance. There are situations that a woman takes more share than a man. See Quran 4:11-12”, the group had held.

But the bill, long 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)”, rather than violate Islamic laws, buttresses chapters 2 and 4 of the constitution, the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and the protocol to the African Charter on the Rights of Women in Africa.

Sultan

The sultan

 

The bill is also to give effect to the international convention on human right which affirms the principle of non-discrimination and that all human beings are born free, equal in dignity and rights, and that everyone is entitled to all the rights set out without distinction of any kind including distinction based on sex.

WHAT THE BILL REALLY IS

The bill is 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.

If passed, the bill will stop any person, public or private organisation from discriminating through words spoken, acts, inactions, omissions, laws, regulations, administrative procedures, policies, guidelines, rules, customs or practices discriminate against any person on the ground of gender, age or disability.

It seeks to void any law, custom or practice which constitutes discrimination. The bill will ensure that that no individual or institution rules or directive which is in violation of the bill shall be enforced against any person.

The bill also seeks to accord women, children and other persons equality before the law. It guarantees women equal right to conclude contracts and administer property and seeks to treat women equally with men in all stages of court proceedings.

The bill also seeks to ensure that no legal contracts restricts or discriminates against anyone in terms of legal capacity and seeks to stop any individual, public or private organisation from denying women any benefits just because she is a woman.

ACCESS TO HEALTH CARE

The gender equality bill requires that pregnant women and mothers of children two years and below gets access to free medical care to reduce maternal and infant mortality.

The bill seeks to reserve a minimum of 35 percent of all offices or positions for women in political and public administration to encourage more women in positions and decision-making circles.

EQUALITY IN FAMILY LIFE

The bill seeks to ensure that the values, practices and forms of upbringing of children in the family or community is not discriminatory and promotes a proper understanding of maternity as social functions and the recognition of the common responsibility of men and women in the upbringing and development of their children.

It seeks to abolish unfair, humiliating and degrading treatment of widows and guarantees a widow’s right to guardianship and custody of her children after the death of her husband unless it is contrary to the best interest and welfare of the child.

The bill also seeks to protect the widow’s right to marry the person she wants, inherit her husband’s property and continue to live in her matrimonial home, and in the case of re-marriage, retain the house if it belongs to her.
The gender equality bill seeks to ensure that children, regardless of their sex, can equitably inherit property of their parents.

EQUAL OPPORTUNITY IN SCHOOLS AND WORK PLACE

The bill seeks to ensure that every individual, public or private organisation takes all appropriate measures to eliminate discrimination against women in the political and public life. This means that women and men have equal access to political activities, can vote and be voted for, participate in the formulation of policies and implementation.
The bill seeks equal conditions for women regarding educational career and vocational guidance. It seeks the elimination of stereotypes of roles of men and women at all level of education and encourage coeducation.

Equality

Rita Dominic, Nollywood actress, leading a protest

 

The bill seeks to ensure that organisations, private or public, uphold the right of both sexes to work and stop the discrimination of women in the employment occupation or profession. It seeks to protect the right of women to equal opportunities, including the same application criteria and the right to work commensurate with skill and competence.

The bill, if passed, will promote right to free choice of employment and equal treatment and consideration in the areas of promotion, job security and all benefits and conditions of services. The right to equal remuneration of persons of equal skill, competence, expertises and knowledge.

The right to paid maternity leave or any such leave relating to her maternity need, right to sick leave or concession relating to her maternity needs. Be given equal opportunity to represent organs of organisations, public and private in any official capacity to represent Nigeria,

The bill seeks to empower the National Human Rights Commission to enforce and implement the provisions of the bill and stipulate consequences for the violation of the laws enshrined in the bill.

 

Source: The Cable

Social Freedom: The price of Sexual Liberation and Gender Equality – By Precious Ohaegbulam

In major Nigerian cities, in the month of February, men and women live in a sort of romantic time machine – one that always revolutionizes a life or two. Only a few years ago did young people begin to embrace the idea that love should be the primary reason for marriage. As such, it doesn’t provide an avenue for their families to help in selecting a spouse.

 

Today, love has revolutionized. But it still doesn’t change anything. Men and women are still seen as fundamentally different beings, sexually and otherwise. Enter the 21st century. Things are changing. There is a breakdown of traditional gender roles, rising female independence, surplus birth control measures, and limitless sexual freedom: the sexual revolution.

 

In Nigeria, everything likes to happen at once, as is often the case. These days, thanks to urbanization, there is more opportunity for entertainment and more freedom. Social barriers are weakening; the mingling of sexes is more permissible. Gender politics is entrenched and our women are suddenly less dependent on men.

 

But don’t be in a hurry. This might seem like a ride. I have found out that our notions of love and longing — of dating and romance — are quickly changing. In the biggest cities, such as Lagos and Abuja, more young people are starting to expect independence, especially when it comes to their personal lives.

 

Their counterparts in smaller ones, such as Port Harcourt, are fast following suit. At the same time, however, the age-old forces of society/community, religion, and family expectations are pushing back. Many young people are thus squeezed between tradition and modernity.

 

Increasingly, as young people choose to live in such big cities, where they believe they will be free from family regulations and pressure and get used to better infrastructure — new road projects, new shopping malls, etc; all they want to do is talk of tomorrow — of new places, new lives, and new plans.

 

But this is only the beginning. Economic problems further compound the situation. The Financial Derivatives Company Limited (FDC), a Lagos-based financial advisory firm stated this in its 2014 outlook. Also, according to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), the rate of unemployment in Nigeria stood at 23.9 per cent in 2011, while urban unemployment was estimated at 29.5 per cent in 2013.

 

Many unemployed young people delay their entry into the workforce by extending their years of education, with some going for further education abroad, especially in the United Kingdom. And as a result, most young people simply cannot afford to take financial control of their own lives — which means frustration and disappointment.

 

Recently, I met with some old friends and played catch up. One of us got around to the talk of young people, the symbol of modern Nigeria, who wear the latest western fashion and watch TRACE TV and American sitcoms – most of them currently pursuing university degrees, but all of them live with their families. They all have dreams (at least a majority of them) but no definite and structured plans for the future of their dreams.

 

Our young girls can wear heels, go to malls and, like everyone else, dream about the future. But many cannot realize those dreams because they are unable to take responsibility for their own lives. In contrast, other young Nigerian women have taken their future into their own hands. But that is a story for another day.

 

In a sense, though, this piece intends to show that Nigeria has changed — at least a little. There are more and more marriages, more and more divorce cases in our courts. Didn’t someone say that LOVE CONQUERS all things?

 

Like it or not, Nigeria is still at the beginning of a major social revolution. New ideas about love and gender are born every day, but old ones are slow to die. We are experiencing an increasingly liberal attitude towards sexuality. And social structures are changing as young people begin to prize independence.

 

Liberation (sexual and otherwise) is head-spinning. But it also creates new tensions that we as a society might not be prepared for or equipped to face. Still, despite the strains and broken hearts it may induce in the new month ahead, the revolution could bring more equality between the genders and increased personal freedom in the long run.

Muslim Cleric Warns Against New Gender Equality Bill

A prominent Muslim cleric in Nigeria has warned Muslim lawmakers that they will be condemned as “unbelievers” if they back a new gender equality bill.

The bill proposes that men and women inherit an equal share, violating the Koran, Sheikh Isyaka Rabiu said.

Gender activists have been pushing for the bill to end discrimination against women in a country with roughly the same number of Christians and Muslims.

Lawmakers say that public hearings will be held before the bill is passed.

Reverend Musa Asake, the secretary of the West African state’s main Christian group, the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), told the BBC’s Hausa service that he did not find anything wrong with the bill because in “Christianity inheritance is shared equally between male and female”.

The senate has already rejected an earlier version of the bill, saying in March that it was incompatible with Nigerian culture and religious beliefs.

The BBC’s Muhammad Kabir Muhammad in the capital, Abuja, says the new bill has been sponsored by a female senator, and is a watered-down version of the rejected Gender and Equal Opportunity Bill.

Nevertheless, it is still facing strong resistance from Muslim groups, including the influential Tijjaniya Brotherhood of which Sheikh Rabiu is a leader, our correspondent says.

Read More: bbc

Gender Equality Bill: Saraki Bares His Mind

Senate President Bukola Saraki has advised Nigerian women to re-introduce the Gender Equality Bill, which was turned down by the National Assembly on Tuesday.
This is contained in a statement signed by Fatima Kakuri, Special Assistant on Gender and Equality to the President of the Senate and made available to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Wednesday in Abuja.
The bill seeking gender equality, sponsored by the Deputy Minority Whip of the Senate, Biodun Olujimi, was rejected by the Senate over alleged constitutional violations.
Mr. Saraki said although the bill had suffered setback, it could still be amended and re-introduced.
“Unfortunately, the bill suffered a slight setback because there were some parts of the bill that some senators disagreed with along the lines of religion and tradition.
“The beauty of democracy is that it gives us the opportunity to consider different opinions and this bill can still be represented and reconsidered on the floor of the Senate.
“I have it on good authority that Sen. Biodun Olujimi, who introduced this bill, will reintroduce it after re-drafting it to address some of the reservations that were expressed on the floor of the Senate.

“As I said during the International Women’s Day last week, I am of the opinion that there are substantial parts of the bill that are crucial to the development of our nation.
“Such bills like the Equal Access to Education, Strengthening of the laws on Violence against Women, Ending Abduction of Girls, Sustenance and Promotion of Entrepreneurship Opportunities, Gender Mainstreaming and Gender equality are equally important,” he said.
NAN reports that this was the third time the Gender Equality Bill would be rejected by the National Assembly, and the recent rejection has generated a lot of reactions from women groups.

Credit: NAN

How Senators Rejected Bill Seeking Gender Equality

Nigeria Senate on Tuesday blocked a bill seeking equal marital rights for women.
The bill, titled “Gender Parity and Prohibition of Violence against Women”, was presented by Abiodun Olujimi, representing Ekiti south, during the senate’s plenary session.
According to Mrs. Olujimi, the bill would seek equal rights for women in marriage, education and job.
She said if the bill was passed, a widow in Nigeria would automatically become the custodian of her children in the event of the death of her husband, and would also inherit his property.
The deputy senate president, Ike Ekeremadu, supported the bill. He said Nigeria would develop if women were given the same rights men have.
“Only last night, I was going through a document prepared by George Bush of America. Those countries that are doing well are those who give women opportunities,” he said.
“Where I come from, women don’t eat egg and are restricted from touching the non-essential parts of animal. But now that has changed. What is needed is time and education, not necessarily legislation. We will continue to encourage our women. I support this bill”, he said.

The Senate Majority leader, Ali Ndume, criticised the bill, and urged Nigerians to stick with either religious or traditional marriage.
Sani Yerima, a senator from Zamfara state, condemned the bill, arguing that it was in conflict with the Nigerian Constitution.
He said the bill negates the principles of the Sharia law, which the Constitution recognises.
The bill was defeated when the senate president, Bukola Saraki, put it to vote.

Credit: PremiumTimes