Nigeria: Senate Rejects Landmark Bill on Violence against Women and Gender Equality

In March, a majority of the Nigerian Senate voted against a comprehensive bill on gender equality and violence against women in Nigeria. Among other things, the bill would have raised the legal marriage age for girls to eighteen, promoted gender quality in employment, education and political life, and prohibited all forms of violence against women, including domestic and sexual violence. The bill also targeted widespread discrimination and violence against widows in Nigeria by, for example, guaranteeing widows an equitable share in their husband’s estate and protecting widows' rights to custody of their children. 

The bill directly incorporates provisions from the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), ratified by Nigeria in 1995, and the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa, ratified by Nigeria in 1994. Several lawmakers cited religious and cultural reasons to oppose the bill. Human rights advocates in Nigeria have widely criticized the Senate’s failure to approve the legislation, considered necessary for women to acheive true equality in Nigerian society.


Compiled from: Kazeem, Yomi, Nigerian lawmakers voted down a women equality bill citing the Bible and Sharia law, Quartz Africa (March 15, 2016); Nigeria anger after Gender and Equal Opportunity Bill rejected, BBC News (March 16, 2016); Payton, Matt, Nigerian Senate votes down gender equality bill due to 'religious beliefs'The Independent (March 17, 2016).