The Nigerian Women’s Trust Fund is concerned about the recent postponement of the scheduled public hearing on the Gender and Equal Opportunity (GEO) Bill on Monday 19th February, 2018. The GEO Bill provides a legal framework for girls and boys, men and women to live full and free of gender-based discrimination.

Aside the fact that this is the second time the Public Hearing has been scheduled to hold without success, it also portrays the degree of importance the hallowed chambers place on the Bill. This is a very loud and clear message from parliament to Nigerians that closing the equality gap between men and women, boys and girls is not a priority.

The GEO Bill has faced strong opposition in recent times largely due to a lack of understanding of the proposed bill, its provisions and what it hopes to achieve for all Nigerians especially as it relates to achieving Goal 5 of the Sustainable Development Goals to which Nigeria is committed.

The Bill was previously scheduled for hearing in by the Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters in December 2016 but after hours of waiting, committee members failed to form a quorum and the hearing was postponed indefinitely.

Over the last few months, representatives of civil society organisations and women groups – under the Affirmative Action Initiative for Women (NCAA), paid several visits to committee members, staged advocacy visits to other parliamentarians, launched media strategies on social media, print, radio and television including a strong letter to the Senate President on the importance of the Bill to influence its passage.

Unfortunately, the Bill has not been given a chance in the court of public opinion.  The group hereby calls on men and women of good will to prevail on the National Assembly to move forward with the consideration of the Bill and give men and women a chance in sustainable development.

As we approach the 2018 International Women’s Day celebrations all over the world, will Nigeria join other men and women of goodwill to celebrate equal opportunities?

We remain watchful, patient and hopeful. That being said, Women will Remember!

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