Gender and Equal Opportunity (GEO) Bill is a direct response to the concerns on the delays in the domestication of gender focused international treaties/conventions particularly CEDAW and the African Union Protocol on the Rights of Women in Africa. It incorporates certain aspects of CEDAW, the African Union Protocol on the Rights of Women and the National Gender Policy.

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Background: Gender and Equal Opportunity (GEO) Bill is a direct response to the concerns on the delays in the domestication of gender focused international treaties/conventions particularly CEDAW and the African Union Protocol on the Rights of Women in Africa. It incorporates certain aspects of CEDAW, the African Union Protocol on the Rights of Women and the National Gender Policy.

Rationale: GEO bill is the affirmation of a golden thread that runs through the three afore-mentioned instruments and the need for harmonization. The positive impact of the provisions within the social and legal contexts of the Nigerian society giving careful consideration to sensibilities as well as the avoidance of duplications also informed the harmonization.

Goal: is to provide a legislation that seeks to eliminate all forms of discrimination on the basis of sex and gender in private and public spaces, affirms women’s rights to equal opportunities to realize their full potential and provide protection for their bodily integrity and human dignity.

The GEO Bill seeks to give effect to:

  1. Chapters II and IV of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
  2. The International Covenants on Human Rights which affirms the principle of  non -discrimination and proclaim  that all human are born free and 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;
  3. The domestication of certain aspects of the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women, and the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa and the National Gender Policy.

The Bill is structured into three parts:

Part A:

This part contains the substantive sections covering all forms of discrimination against women. Thus you will find sections dealing with the prohibition of discrimination; and adoption of temporary special measures to eliminate discrimination in political and public life; in the field of education; employment; health; on grounds of marital status; and on socio-economic grounds. There are sections on the promotion of equality, full development and advancement of all persons and the modification of socio-cultural practices that discriminate against women. The right to choose Indigenship and identity; the rights of persons in rural communities; rights in matters relating to marriage and family relations are given prominence in the bill. In this part, the bill addresses the prohibition of violence against women; marriage and matrimonial causes; provisions relating to offences and sentencing including costs, damages and compensations.

Part B:

Provides for the establishment of an Equal Opportunities Commission which will among other things monitor and supervise the implementation of the bill as well as investigate and apply to the appropriate court or tribunal for an order of assessment of practices of any person, organ, body, institution, private or public organ in accordance with the bill…[1]. This part of the draft bill further provides for the functions, funds and membership of the commission as well as the appointment of a secretary and tenure of office. Other provisions include resignation from office; power to appoint, dismiss or exercise discipline; meetings of the commission; legal obligations to give information to the commission; rules and regulations of the commission; failure to comply with direction for reversal of discrimination; jurisdiction; procedure and a miscellaneous section.

Part C: This part simply and innovatively seeks to enforce the National Gender Policy.

Culled from Federal Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development