People in Gombe State are advocating for the speedy passage of the Gender and Equal Opportunities for All Bill into law, which will eliminate all forms discrimination against persons because of their gender and give them the equal opportunity to put in their best for the development of the state.
The process for the passage of the bill has been on since March 2016, when the gender committee was constituted by the UN Women in Gombe State, through the European Union funded programme, Promoting Women’s Engagement in Peace and Security in Northern Nigeria.
The committee, which was divided into sub-committees, reviewed the bill, taking into consideration the cultural and religious settings of the people, has now sent it to the relevant executive offices for their input before it is sent to the State House of Assembly.
Consequently, Gombe residents who spoke with journalists are calling for the speedy passage of the gender bill, to ensure the involvement of women in decision making and in the development of the state.
According to UN Women, violence against women and girls is rooted in gender-based discrimination and social norms and gender stereotypes that perpetuate such violence.
Such discriminations are made manifest in school enrolment, employment, inheritance and leadership, among others.
Also, various researches show that women take the brunt during violent conflicts and are not involved in decision making to prevent or resolve such crisis.
However, the UN Women believes that because of the devastating effect violence has on women, efforts have mainly focused on responses and services for survivors, but that the best way to end violence against women and girls is to prevent it from happening in the first place by addressing its root and structural causes.
It says that can be achieved with the involvement all.
That is why, through the European Union funded programme, Promoting Women’s Engagement in Peace and Security in Northern Nigeria, in collaboration with Search for Common Ground, the UN Women has been piloting the process for the involvement of women in decision making.
This process has gone far through the drafting of the gender bill, which seeks to ensure that all persons are not discriminated upon because of their gender and are given the same opportunity to thrive.
In Gombe State the draft is now at the executive level, where relevant ministries are making inputs before finally sending it to the State House of Assembly for its passage and signing into law.
“The bill will more or less empower women to have a clear right as regards what their rights and responsibilities are as citizens. So it will be clearly spelt out, unlike now that is just based on the normal human rights that are based in the constitution. This one will be more specific. So, when rights are clearer and more specific, it becomes easier for people to affirm and demand for it” Mr Bachama Yusuf a resident said.
Another resident, Mrs Esther Gibson said “Yes, I have a little knowledge about it. Yes, we are made to understand that it is good for women to have equal rights with the men, because the women have been left behind in everything. And when the women have equal rights with the men, they will be able to move things forward”.
Also speaking, Mr Yahaya Atiku added that “Well, I know about the bill for gender and equal opportunity for all persons in Gombe and we’ve been following and advocating for it to scale through. I don’t know at which stage it is now, but the last time I heard about it was at the first reading. So, we are doing everything we can, making alliances with other stakeholders for this bill to pass through. Because when it passes through, we are going to have equal allocation and resources to women in the state level. Which is of inert importance to us.”
Although some of the members of the public who are not well enlightened about the bill are kicking against its passage, the Media Sub-Committee of the Gender and Equal Opportunity for All Bill Committee assured the public that the bill will not in any way give women powers to claim equality with men.
The group said this during their activity workplan meeting, when they compared notes on the views of the public, which mostly believe the bill will give women undue advantage over the men.
They said in a statement that bill, when passed into law would eliminate all forms of discriminations based on someone’s gender and give them an equal level playing ground to contribute their quota in developing the state.
Consequently, those who are well enlightened on the provisions of the bill, are urging the ministries and departments concerned to speed-up the process by inserting in their contribution for onward passage to the legislature.
In the meantime, some members of the Gombe State House of Assembly, who spoke with journalists in Gombe, have pledged their support for the bill, when it eventually reaches the house.