Senators Reject Gender And Equal Opportunity Law Because Islam Condemns It
The bill has been postponed until lawmakers have had more time to study it.
By Omotayo Olutekunbi
On Wednesday, December 15, 2021, a bill for gender equality and equal opportunity in the Senate was withdrawn amid religious objections from a number of senators.
Senator Biodun Olujimi (Ekiti South – PDP), who led debate on the bill in plenary, said it would apply Section 42 of the constitution, which prohibits discrimination against women.
The bill’s proponent said that it would ensure that everyone had equal opportunity and that they would be able to exercise their human rights and basic freedoms.
“The bill, when enacted, will also encourage women to aspire and attain their full potentials considering the fact that there are real and nuanced forms of discrimination against women limiting their (career) entry and growth,” she said.
Senator Stella Oduah (Anambra North – APC), who supports the bill, urged legislators to pass it in the interest of all the women in their life who would be affected.
Senators Gyang Istifanus Dung (Plateau North – PDP), Eyakenyi Akon Etim (Akwa Ibom South – PDP), Ovie Omo-Agege (Delta Central – APC), Ajibola Bashiru (Osun Central – APC), James Manager (Delta South – PDP), and Remi Tinubu (Lagos Central – APC) all backed the bill
Senator Yusuf Abubakar Yusuf (Taraba Central – APC), on the other hand, claims that the northern region’s socio-cultural practices, which are based on the Islamic religion, prevent men and women from being treated equally.
“I will not support the passage of this until the word ‘equal’ is removed. If we now have debate on the gender opportunities bill, fine. But when you bring equality into it, it infringes into the practice of Islamic religion,” he said.
Senator Aliyu Wammako (APC, Sokoto North) backed Yusuf’s viewpoint, noting that although equity was OK, equality was not.
Their complaints sparked a nearly hour-long debate, with Senate President Ahmad Lawan (Yobe North – APC) recommending that the bill be changed to address the issues.
Senator Olujimi proposed renaming the law ‘gender equity bill’ rather than ‘gender and equal chances bill,’ which is disrespectful to those who oppose it.
She said that the law had previously been put to the test by Islamic clerics, who approved of the wording.
Senator Yusuf expressed his dissatisfaction with the bill and requested that it be tabled until a draft has been examined by parliamentarians so that they may make a better informed choice.
Senator Abdullahi Adamu (APC, Nasarawa North) also stated that it would be an injustice if the lawmakers’ concerns were not adequately addressed before the bill progressed to the next stage.
He said, “It will pay us greater dividend that we seek some advise. Let’s have some little room for our neighbours. What’s the hurry?”
Senators Bala Ibn N’Allah (Kebbi South – APC) and Yahaya Abdullahi (Kebbi North – APC) have also requested more consultations before voting on the bill.
Senator Olujimi decided to withdraw the bill owing to resistance, with the intention of reintroducing it at a later date.
Lawan encouraged her to make certain that the issues voiced are addressed in the revised draft that would be sent to all senators for review.
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