The Gender and Equal Opportunities Bill deserves another look and adoption by the Senate as a further step by Nigeria towards fulfilling humanity’s vision of transforming our world by 2030 to ensure that all human beings can fulfil their potential in dignity and equality.Such action will be one of the practicable national responses to help implement the Sustainable Development Agenda, as agreed by the world’s leaders, including Nigeria’s, in September 2015.
Protecting women and girls, investing in their rights and providing opportunities for them to prosper benefits not only their families, but also communities and the whole country. This vision of gender equality is not new. It is imbedded in the International Bill of Human Rights, the UN Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women, International Conference on Population and Development Programme of Action and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, all of which Nigeria has committed to realizing.
Nigeria has provided women and girls legal claims to demand freedom from violence, discrimination or abuse on the basis of gender. However, the full enjoyment of their human rights remains elusive as they continue to face extensive discrimination that violate the principle of equality of rights.
These challenges were tackled in the Gender and Equal Opportunities Bill, which seeks to promote equal opportunities and counter sociocultural barriers that prevent women and girls from reaching their full potential. It tries to turn into reality the full enjoyment of human rights by women and girls, who are our very mothers, wives, sisters and daughters.
So, in accordance with world leaders’ resolve that the United Nations system should partner with governments on implementing the sustainable development agenda, UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, stands ready to continue helping Nigeria take action to protect the rights of women and girls. It is also ready to help the country rectify gender disparity and enable women fully exercise their human rights.
Therefore, I urge quick adoption of the Gender and Equal Opportunities Bill when it is reintroduced. Adopting it will be a practical step towards an ambitious global vision: A world in which every woman and girl enjoys full gender equality and all legal, social and economic barriers to their empowerment have been removed.