National efforts to establish a solid foundation to enhance the promotion and protection of
the rights of women in Nigeria can be traced back to the 1980’s. These efforts were, and
continue to be a response to what is happening at the local, regional and global levels.
The Nigerian government’s response to these efforts by women’s rights activists’ agitations
for concrete commitments to women’s issues led to the establishment of the Commission
on Women in the 1980’s. This commitment however failed to translate into constitutional
and legally binding provisions; thus the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of
Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) which the military government signed in 1985
was not domesticated. With the return to democratic rule in 1999, several efforts have
been made to incorporate the provisions of CEDAW into Nigerian law without success.
While the effort to domesticate CEDAW was on going, the African Union adopted the
Protocol to the African charter on Human and People’s Rights in 2003 and Nigeria ratified
this treaty in 2004. This optional protocol which was home grown on the continent of
Africa has been acclaimed globally as the most progressive document on women’s rights.
Civil society Organizations in Nigeria that were part of the lobby for the new treaty as
expected, began several engagements at achieving the domestication of this treaty.
Meanwhile, the Federal Executive Council in 2006 approved the National Gender Policy
(NGP). This policy states the aspiration of the Federal Government in line with the
principles of its national and international commitments. Even though the NGP has clear
commitments, it does not have a legal backing, a situation which legal experts say limits its
capacity and utility for judicial enforcement.These two instruments and policy have now been woven into the Gender and EqualOpportunities bill (GEOB). The GEOB incorporates certain aspects of CEDAW, the AfricanUnion Protocol and the National Gender Policy into a model law that achieves theaspiration of the elimination of all forms of discrimination on the basis of sex and gender inthe private and public spaces, affirms women’s rights to equal opportunities to realize their full potential and provide protection for their bodily integrity and human dignity….Please download to view bill