Kaduna: Critical stakeholders revisit Gender Equal Opportunities Bill, delete conflicting sections

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From Sola Ojo, Kaduna

Critical stakeholders including the representatives of the Kaduna State House of Assembly, Ministries of Justice and Human Services and Social Development, civil society groups, media and people with disability have met in Kaduna and brainstormed toward a smooth passage of the Gender Equal Opportunities (GEO) Bill which has been around in Kaduna State for a few years.

GEO bill is a piece of legislation that seeks to domesticate the convention on the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women in Kaduna State.

The Women’s Rights Advancement and Protection Alternative (WRAPA), under her “Legal and Social Empowerment Program on Women’s Rights” project being implemented in Kaduna and Plateau States, supported by Africa Women Development Fund (AWDF) organised the one-day meeting at a hotel in Kaduna.

Project Coordinator, WRAPA, Kaduna State, Barr Bukola Ajao told newsmen in an interview that the meeting was key, having to do with the implementation of the modern laws which include Violence Against Persons Prohibition law (2018), GESI and Child Protection and Welfare law.

“Are there structures in place to make these laws implementable? Are their budget for the implementing MDAs to work with? That is why we have the representatives of the Kaduna State House of Assembly and other stakeholders on the ground to look into all these.

“So we are looking at Gender Equal Opportunity Bill which is in Kaduna and Plateau states. In Kaduna State, we have the VAPP law while the GEO has been signed into law in Platea state. Again, the VAPP law is still undergoing the legal process in Plateau State while GEO bill is also undergoing the legal process in Kaduna State.

“It is therefore important for us in Kaduna to look at what happened in the GEO bill. We have been able to go through the sections in the bill to see whether some of them are already existing in VAPP law.

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“For instance, when we talk of family matters, we already have it in the Child Protection and Welfare law in Kaduna State. So, we will delete those sections that have been captured in the existing modern laws in Kaduna state.

“To this end, we have been able to brainstorm on GEO bill and we have set up a committee to cross-check with relevant laws and come up with a clean copy so we can use it to advocate critical stakeholders for its passage and implementation in Kaduna state”, she explained.

Earlier, a key facilitator at the meeting and a Permanent Commissioner, Kaduna State Peace Commission, Barr Rebecca Sako-John, noted that the GEO bill would be of great importance if passed into the law in the state.

“If this bill is passed into law, it will be of great essence to the growth and development of Kaduna state because it will promote gender equity that will enable people to have access to and participate in governance.

“The GEO law will be like a legal framework for the smooth implementation of Gender Equity and Social Inclusion (GESI) policy. It will give legal backing to investigate, reward, punish and monitor what is in GESI policy.

“So, the GEO bill will be like domestication of all forms of discrimination against women. We have looked at it today and discovered that some of the provisions therein could be done away with because they have been captured in the other existing laws”, she said.

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