On 8th March, 2018, all roads led to the National Assembly Complex on a March to push for a new date for the public hearing on the Gender and Equal Opportunities Bill. The public hearing has been cancelled twice, and International Women’s Day served as a day to remind the Nigeria Senate on the need to recognize the rights of women and girls in all diversities and the urgent demand to end gender-based discrimination in Nigeria.
The march organized by Education as a Vaccine in collaboration with the National Coalition for Affirmative Action recorded hundreds of people in attendance representing different Civil Society Organizations in Nigeria. The turn-up rate rekindled the spirit and relentless effort in the struggle to ensure the passage of a Gender and Equal Opportunities Bill.
The #PressforGEOBill March did not go unnoticed as it gained the attention of lawmakers who sent representatives (Senator Abiodun Olujimi – the sponsor of the Gender and Equal opportunities Bill who was accompanied by Senator Gbolahan Dada) to address our grievances.
During her remarks, Olujimi stated the need to enact laws and policies that provide women and girls with the opportunities to live happy, healthy, and fulfilling lives. In her words, ‘I want to assure you on behalf of all the senators and the Senate President who is our major supporter that we will not relent until we ensure that we protect the girl child and the women in our midst’.
She assured the gathering of people that notwithstanding the setback the Bill has faced, a new date will soon be communicated to the general public. “The public hearing has been postponed twice but I can assure, there won’t be a third time.”
As the world is bridging the gender inequality gap, there is no better time to #PressforProgress and even more, #PressforGEOBill than now, especially in countries like Nigeria where the injustices to women are obvious and they are being underrepresented economically, politically and socially.
Education as a Vaccine has been at the forefront of promoting gender equality as well as empowering women in Nigeria. Though the day has passed, we must not forget the need to provide girls and young women with equal access to education, healthcare, employment and representation in political and economic, and decision-making processes, capable of fuelling sustainable economies and benefiting the society at large.
Also in attendance are adolescent girls and young women, women living with disabilities, young women from rural communities, youth-focused organizations and individuals who are passionate about gender equality.