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Gender Opportunities And Equality Bill 2004

A Bill to incorporate and enforce certain aspects of the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women, the National Policy on Women, and other matters connected therewith.

Interpretation:

In this bill, except as otherwise stated or as contained in the Interpretation Act (Cap LFN 1990), the following words are intended to mean the following:

"The Convention" means the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of all Form of Discrimination against Women.

"Abuse" includes physical, psychological, sexual, verbal, economic, social, cultural or similar mistreatment or mishandling which interferes with the integrity of the woman.

"Women" include the girl child

"Violence" includes physical, psychological, sexual, verbal or emotional maltreatments or assault.

"The Commission: means the Gender opportunity and Equality Commission established under this bill.

"The Chairperson" means the chairperson of the Commission

"Court" means any court within the state or federation with jurisdiction over issues of matrimonial causes under the Matrimonial Causes Act (Cap LFN 1990)

"The ministry" means the federal or state ministry as the case may be responsible for women affairs.

"The minister or commissioner" means the minister in the ministry of the federation, or the commissioner or such official in the states, responsible for women affairs.

"The Policy" means the National Policy on Women.

Preamble

  1. Noting that the Charter of the United Nations reaffirms faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person and in the equal rights of men and women,

  2. Noting that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights affirms the principle of the inadmissibility of discrimination and proclaims that all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights and that everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth therein, without distinction of any kind, including distinction based on sex,

  3. Noting that the Federal Republic of Nigeria being State Party to the International Covenants on Human Rights has the obligation to ensure the equal rights of men and women to enjoy all economic, social, cultural, civil and political rights,

  4. Considering the international conventions concluded under the auspices of the United Nations and the specialized agencies promoting equality of rights of men and women,

  5. Noting the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 providing for the rights from freedom from discrimination on various grounds including sex, as well as promoting equality of men, women, and children,

  6. Noting also the resolutions, declarations and recommendations adopted by the United Nations and the specialized agencies promoting equality of rights of men and women,

  7. Concerned, however, that despite these various instruments extensive discrimination against women continues to exist in all parts of the federal of Nigeria,

  8. Recalling that discrimination against women violates the principles of equality of rights and respect for human dignity, is an obstacle to the participation of women, on equal terms with men, in the political, social, economic and cultural life of their countries, hampers the growth of the prosperity of society and the family and makes more difficult the full development of the potentialities of women in the service of their countries and of humanity,

  9. Concerned that in situations of poverty women have the least access to food, health, education, training and opportunities for employment and other needs,

  10. Convinced that the establishment of the new national economic order based on equity and justice will contribute significantly towards the promotion of equality between men and women,

  11. Emphasizing that the eradication of poverty, ignorance, all forms of discrimination and inequalities of men and women is essential to the full enjoyment of the rights of men and women,

  12. Convinced that the full and complete development of Nigeria, the welfare of the country and the cause of peace require the maximum participation of women on equal terms with men in all fields,

  13. Bearing in mind the great contribution of women to the welfare of the family and to the development of society, so far not fully recognized, the social significance of maternity and the role of both parents in the family and in the upbringing of children, and aware that the role of women in procreation should not be a basis for discrimination but that the upbringing of children requires a sharing of responsibility between men and women and society as a whole,

  14. Aware that a change in the traditional role of men as well as the role of women in society and in the family is needed to achieve full equality between men and women,

  15. Noting that Nigeria ratified the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women in 1985, and adopted the National Policy on Women in 2001,

  16. Determined to implement the principles set forth in the Convention and in the National Policy on Women, and, for that purpose, to adopt the measures required, including legislative measures, for the elimination of such discrimination in all its forms and manifestations,

The National Assembly hereby enacts:

Section

  1. For the purposes of this Bill, the term "discrimination against women" shall mean any distinction, exclusion or restriction made on the basis of sex which has the effect or purpose of impairing or nullifying the recognition, enjoyment or exercise by women, irrespective of their marital status, on a basis of equality of men and women, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural, civil or any other field.

    1. All organs and bodies of the federation shall condemn discrimination against women in all its forms, pursue by all appropriate means and without delay policies that will eliminate discrimination against women.

    2. The principle of the equality of men and women shall be embodied in all legislation, administrative policies, political parties regulations, any law in force including regulations and subsidiary instrument, practice or guideline whether in private or public sphere, and all action pursuant thereof shall ensure, through appropriate means, the practical realization of this principle.

    3. Any form of discrimination against any women or women in any field, sphere or practice shall be an offence under this bill. (develop the sanction)

    4. All administrative, judicial and legislative institutions shall

      1. Have the responsibility to ensure and enforce at all time, the protection of the rights of women on an equal basis with men and to ensure the effective protection of women against any act of discrimination;

      2. Refrain from engaging in any act or practice of discrimination against women and to ensure that public authorities and institutions shall act in conformity with this obligation.

      3. Take all appropriate measures to restrain and eliminate discrimination against women by any person, organization or enterprise;

    5. Any existing law, regulations, customs and practices, which constitute discrimination against women, shall be void and shall not be enforceable against any person.

  2. All organs, bodies, public institutions and authorities in the federation shall shall take in all fields, in particular in the political, social, economic and cultural fields, all appropriate measures, including regulatory, policy, and fiscal and administrative measures, to ensure the full development and advancement of women, for the purpose of guaranteeing them the exercise and enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms on a basis of equality with men.

    1. All organs, bodies, public institutions, authorities or private enterprises shall adopt temporary special measures as set out in this Bill aimed at accelerating de facto equality between men and women, and such measure shall not be considered discrimination as defined in the present Bill or in any other law in force, but shall in no way entail as a consequence the maintenance of unequal or separate standards; Provided that these measures shall be discontinued when the objectives of equality of opportunity and treatment have been achieved.

    2. For the purpose of the special measure provide in sub section 1 of this section, it shall be mandatory for all organs, bodies, public institution, authorities, or private enterprise concerned, to ensure:

      1. in case of political and public sphere, a minimum of 30 per cent of all offices, positions, or appointments is reserved for women;

      2. in case of employment, credit or other economic sphere, a minimum of 40 percent of all offices, facilities, positions or appointments is reserved for women;

      3. in case of educational placement and school enrollment, including award of scholarships, bursaries, or such allocations, that a minimum of 50 per cent is reserved for women;

      4. (iv) in all other cases, a minimum of 30 percent is reserved for women.

    3. Without prejudice to the provisions of subsections (a) and (b) of this section, all organs, bodies, public institutions, authorities or private enterprise shall take appropriate measures to protect the maternity status and reproduction health of women, including allocation of special facilities, time, and resources aaimed at protecting maternity, and such special measures shall not be considered discriminatory.

  3. All agencies, bodies, organs, public institution, authorities or private enterprise shall have the responsibility to modify the social and cultural patterns of conduct of men and women, with a view to achieving the elimination of prejudices and customary and all other practices which are based on the idea of the inferiority or the superiority of either of the sexes or on stereotyped roles for men and women, and to this end:

    1. All public or private educational institution shall ensure that they adopt curriculum, teaching methods, environment and facilities that emphasise and promote the equality of all sexes in all circumstances and for all purposes including choice of career,

    2. The family as a unit of society shall ensure that family education includes a proper understanding of maternity as a social function and the recognition of the common responsibility of men and women in the upbringing and development of their children, it being understood that the interest of the children is the primordial consideration in all cases.

  4. All agencies, organs, bodies, public institutions authorities or private enterprise shall take all appropriate measures to suppress all forms of traffic in women and exploitation of prostitution of women.

  5. . Every agency, organ, body, public institution, authority or private enterprise shall take all appropriate measures to eliminate discrimination against women in the political and public life of the country and, in particular, shall ensure to women, on equal terms with men, the right:

    1. To vote in all elections and public referenda and to be eligible for election to all publicly elected bodies;

    2. To participate in the formulation of government policy and the implementation thereof and to hold public office and perform all public functions at all levels of government

    3. To participate in non-governmental organizations and associations concerned with the public and political life of the country.

    4. To be given, on equal terms with men and without any discrimination, and without prejudice to the provisions of Subsections (a) and (b) of Section 4 of this bill, the opportunity to represent the Government of the Federation of Nigeria at the international level and to participate in the work of international organizations.

    1. All organs, body, institution, or authority shall grant women equal rights with men to acquire, change or retain their nationality, and in particular, shall ensure that neither marriage to an alien nor change of nationality by the husband during marriage shall automatically change the nationality of the wife, render her stateless or force upon her the nationality of the husband.

    2. No action, omission or inaction of any body, organ, authority or institution, including private enterprise, community, family or individual, shall be deny a women her right to choose her nationality, and her surname or her place of domicile or abode, irrespective of the nationality, origin, or name of the husband.

    3. All women shall have equal rights with men with respect to the nationality of their children.

  6. All agency, organs, bodies, authority, public institution or private enterprise shall take all appropriate measures to eliminate discrimination against women in order to ensure to them equal rights with men in the field of education and in particular to ensure, on a basis of equality of men and women:

    1. The same conditions for career and vocational guidance, for access to studies and for the achievement of diplomas in educational establishments of all categories in rural as well as in urban areas; this equality shall be ensured in pre-school, general, technical, professional and higher technical education, as well as in all types of vocational training;

    2. Access to the same curricula, the same examinations, teaching staff with qualifications of the same standard and school premises and equipment of the same quality;

    3. The elimination of any stereotyped concept of the roles of men and women at all levels and in all forms of education by encouraging coeducation and other types of education which will help to achieve this aim and, in particular, by the revision of textbooks and school programmes and the adaptation of teaching methods;

    4. The same opportunities to benefit from scholarships, bursaries, and other study grants;

    5. The same opportunities for access to programmes of continuing education, including adult and functional literacy programmes, particularly those aimed at reducing, at the earliest possible time, any gap in education existing between men and women;

    6. The reduction of female student drop-out rates and the organization of programmes for girls and women who have left school prematurely;

    7. The same Opportunities to participate actively in sports and physical education;

    8. Access to specific educational information to help to ensure the health and well-being of families, including information and advice on family planning.

  7. All agencies, bodies, organs, authorities, public institution or private enterprise shall take all appropriate measures to eliminate discrimination against women in the field of employment in order to ensure, on a basis of equality of men and women, the same rights, in particular:

    1. The right to work as an inalienable right of all human beings;

    2. The right to the same employment opportunities, including the application of the same criteria for selection in matters of employment;

    3. The right to free choice of profession and employment, the right to promotion, job security and all benefits and conditions of service and the right to receive vocational training and retraining, including apprenticeships, advanced vocational training and recurrent training;

    4. The right to equal remuneration, including benefits, and to equal treatment in respect of work of equal value, as well as equality of treatment in the evaluation of the quality of work;

    5. The right to social security, particularly in cases of retirement, unemployment, sickness, invalidity and old age and other incapacity to work, as well as the right to paid leave;

    6. The right to protection of health and to safety in working conditions, including the safeguarding of the function of reproduction.

    1. In order to prevent discrimination against women on the grounds of marriage or maternity and to ensure their effective right to work, all agencies, organs, bodies, authorities, public institutions or private enterprise shall:

      1. Prohibit, except in accordance to a rule of law in force and not for the sole purpose of pregnancy or marriage, dismiss any woman on the grounds of pregnancy or of maternity leave and the basis of marital status;

      2. Ensure enforcement of maternity leave with pay or with comparable social benefits without loss of former employment, seniority or social allowances;

      3. Encourage the provision of the necessary supporting social services to enable parents to combine family obligations with work responsibilities and participation in public life, in particular through promoting the establishment and development of a network of child-care facilities;

      4. Provide special protection to women during pregnancy in types of work proved to be harmful to them.

    2. Protective regulations, policies and practices relating to matters covered in this subsection (a) of this Section, as well as in subsection (a) and (b) of Section 4 of this Bill shall be reviewed every 10 years in the light of scientific and technological knowledge and shall be revised, repealed or extended as necessary.

    1. All agencies, organs, bodies, authorities, public institutions or private enterprise shall take all appropriate measures to eliminate discrimination against women in the field of health care in order to ensure, on a basis of equality of men and women, access to health care services, including those related to family planning.

    2. Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection (a) of this section, all agencies, organs, bodies, authorities, public institutions or private enterprise, family, community or individual shall ensure to women appropriate services in connection with pregnancy, confinement and the post-natal period, granting free services where necessary, as well as adequate nutrition during pregnancy and lactation.

  8. All agencies, organs, bodies, authorities, public institutions or private enterprise, individual or community shall take all appropriate measures to eliminate discrimination against women in other areas of economic and social life in order to ensure, on a basis of equality of men and women, the same rights, in particular:

    1. The right to family benefits;

    2. The right to bank loans, mortgages and other forms of financial credit;

    3. The right to participate in recreational activities, sports and all aspects of cultural life.

    1. All agencies, organs, bodies, authorities, public institutions or private enterprise, individual or community shall take into account the particular problems faced by rural women and the significant roles which rural women play in the economic survival of their families, including their work in the non-monetized sectors of the economy, and shall ensure the application of the provisions of the present Bill to women in rural areas.

    2. All agencies, organs, bodies, authorities, public institutions or private enterprise, individual or community shall take all appropriate measures to eliminate discrimination against women in rural areas in order to ensure, on a basis of equality of men and women, that they participate in and benefit from rural development and, in particular, shall ensure to such women the right:

      1. To participate in the elaboration and implementation of development planning at all levels;

      2. To have access to adequate health care facilities, including information, counseling and services in family planning;

      3. To benefit directly from social security programmes;

      4. To obtain all types of training and education, formal and non-formal, including that relating to functional literacy, as well as, inter alia, the benefit of all community and extension services, in order to increase their technical proficiency;

      5. To organize self-help groups and co-operatives in order to obtain equal access to economic opportunities through employment or self employment;

      6. To participate in all community activities;

      7. To have access to agricultural credit and loans, marketing facilities, appropriate technology and equal treatment in land and agrarian reform as well as in land resettlement schemes;

      8. To enjoy adequate living conditions, particularly in relation to housing, sanitation, electricity and water supply, transport and communications.

  9. All agencies, organs, bodies, authorities or public institutions shall accord to women equality with men before the law, and in accordingly, shall on the basis of equality;

    1. Accord to women, in civil matters, a legal capacity identical to that of men and the same opportunities to exercise that capacity.

    2. Give women equal rights to conclude contracts and to administer property and

    3. Treat women equally in all stages of procedure in courts and tribunals.

    4. Ensure that all contracts and all other private instruments of any kind with a legal effect which is directed at restricting the legal capacity of women shall be deemed null and void.

    5. Accord to men and women the same rights with regard to the law relating to the movement of persons and the freedom to choose their residence and domicile.

  10. All agencies, organs, bodies, authorities, public institutions or private enterprise, individual or community shall take all appropriate measures to eliminate discrimination against women in all matters relating to marriage and family relations and shall ensure, on a basis of equality of men and women:

    1. The same right to enter into marriage;

    2. The same right freely to choose a spouse and to enter into marriage only with their free and full consent;

    3. The same rights and responsibilities during marriage and at its dissolution;

    4. The same rights and responsibilities as parents, irrespective of their marital status, in matters relating to their children; in all cases the interests of the children shall be paramount;

    5. The same rights to decide freely and responsibly on the number and spacing of their children and to have access to the information, education and means to enable them to exercise these rights;

    6. The same rights and responsibilities with regard to guardianship, wardship, trusteeship and adoption of children, or similar institutions where these concepts exist in national legislation; in all cases the interests of the children shall be paramount;

    7. The same personal rights as husband and wife, including the right to choose a family name, a profession and an occupation;

    8. The same rights for both spouses in respect of the ownership, acquisition, management, administration, enjoyment and disposition of property, whether free of charge or for a valuable consideration.

  11. The minimum age of marriage shall in all circumstance be 16, and accordingly, betrothal and the marriage of a woman under the age of 16 shall have no legal effect.

  12. PART B

    ESTABLISHMENT OF THE GENDER OPPORTUNITIES AND EQUALITY COMMISSION

  13. Provision on Gender Opportunities and Equality Commission: See Dr Nweze's first draft

  14. PART C

    ADOPTION OF THE NATIONAL POLICY OF WOMEN

  15. The provisions of the National Policy of Women, in the schedule to this Bill, shall have all force as part of this Bill, accordingly, all provisions on the Policy in the Schedule, shall be read, interpreted, construed and applied to meet the overall purpose of this Bill.

SCHEDULE

The National Policy on Women

 
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