Women rights in Africa
One of the 17 goals included in the sustainable development goals propounded by the UN is “Gender equality”. It still remains one of the most pressing global concerns even with the fact that there are laws against the discrimination of women.
In Africa, Women are seen as the lesser or lower specie of human beings and therefore are treated with degradation. They are not encouraged to participate in special decision making offices and hold political positions in Africa especially in Nigeria.
With these can we then say that women are really accorded their rights?
Taking Nigeria as a case study and looking at the political state of the country; according to Center for Democracy and Development (CDD),as at 2017,1534 elective positions were available at national and state levels,women only occupied about 86 while men had 1,449 even though women constituted 49 percent of Nigeria’s population according to the National Population Commission(NPC). Out of 469 legislators in the Nations assembly, the senate has 109 and house of representative as 360. Leadership Newspaper findings revealed that only 29( 7 from senate and 22 from the house of representative) are female legislators constituting only about 6.2 percent of the total number of legislators. On the other hand, male legislators constitute about 93.8 percent.
At the state Houses of Assembly, there are about 51 women out of 900 members representing a total of 5.2 percent.
One reason of the female subjugation is the fact that the society has sold mindset to the female folks. The society had made the women resolve to being weaker vessels and thus they have been discouraged as regards being involved in activities especially important governmental roles unlike their male counterparts. Nigeria’s 80.2 million women and girls have significantly worse life chances than men.
In Nigeria, 60- 79 percent of the rural work force are men but men are five times more likely to own a land. In Nigeria, there are male dominated jobs that women are not encourage to do. They are not encouraged to pursue careers in fields like engineering, medicine and military.
The women who venture into these fields are seen as less capable compared to their male counterparts. Also, there are still some laws in Africa that discriminate against women like; child marriage, female genital mutilation which is a form of gender based violence. With all these findings and statistics, how can we enforce and propagate Gender equality and Women rights in Africa?
Firstly, the government has a role in making commitments to address challenges holding women and girls down. It should ensure implementation of the gender policy and allow women to constitute at least 35 percent of governmental appointments and increase it to 50 percent by 2030.
Also,the government should abrogate all laws that discriminate women rights and are repugnant to justice like child marriage and Female Genital Mutilation.
There should be increase in women’s access to control and benefit from basic assets such as land. Women constitute a larger proportion of rural work force but hardly own lands.
Also, adequate support should be given to women candidates during election and appointment as this will encourage more women to participate more in politics.
Furthermore, the society should stop gender stereotyping of women as objects of pleasure. This can be done by socializing boys and girls in such a way as to prevent gender stereotypes and produce the new man and woman with the new progressive conception of masculinity and feminity.
Finally,consciousness raising among men has to go hand in hand with women’s mobilization. The achievement of gender equality is not the sole responsibility of women groups. Both men, and everyone belonging to the African society must also be engaged in championing equality and women’s empowerment. It is not a favour done to women,but a benefit to the society at large.