Women & Discrimination (Nigeria)-Part 1
The 20th century had experienced extra-ordinary discoveries and a general uplift of material well being throughout the world. Yet at the beginning of the 21″ century, African women in general and Nigerian women in particular are submerged in extreme poverty, are still victims of all kinds of abuse, discrimination, lack of education and exploitation. They are still largely illiterate are still victims of ill-health, underdevelopment, injustice and violence. This is as a result of patriarchy system that had started thousand years ago in several countries of the world including Nigeria. It is a system whose values, rules, standards and policies are based on the supposition that women are naturally inferior as human beings. It is based on the hierarchy of the roles that societies define for men and women. At the dawn of the 21″ century, Nigerian citizens are still living in a world dominated by the system which enshrines male power and causes violence and exclusion. Patriarchy makes the vast majority of women to be in position of cultural inferiority, social devaluation, economic marginalization and invisibility of their existence and marketing and commercialization of their bodies. These situations should change in the 21″ century. This noble goal of changing the status of the Nigerian female citizens can be achieved through Social studies education and by giving opportunities to all learners, irrespective of their sex and their target careers.” This write-up addresses the discrimination, poverty, violence and illiteracy among the Nigerian women. This write-up also suggests some recommendations that can assist in curbing discrimination and violence against Nigerian women.
Sex and Gender – Sex refers to the biological differences between men and women and is genetically determined. Gender refers to the socially determined differences between women and men, such as roles, attitudes, behaviors and values. Gender roles are learnt can vary across cultures and over time and are therefore amenable to change. Sex is therefore universal while gender is a socially defined category that can change. The concept of gender is vital because, applied to social analysis it reveals how women’s subordination (or men’s domination) is socially constructed. As such, the subordination can be changed or ended. It is not biologically predetermined nor is it fixed forever.
Culture – The distinctive patterns of ideas, beliefs, and norms, which characterize the way of life and relations of a society or groups within a society. These patterns also include customs and traditions. Culturally determined gender ideologies define rights and responsibilities and what is ‘appropriate’ behaviour for women and men. They also influence access to and control over resources, and participation in decision-making. These gender ideologies often reinforce male power and the idea of women’s inferiority, as for example customary laws that dictate that only men can own land. Culture is sometimes assumed to be natural and unchangeable; however it is fluid and historically determined.
Gender Discrimination – refers to the systematic, unfavorable treatment of individuals on the basis of their gender roles, which denies them enjoying their rights and accessing opportunities or resources.
Gender equality – denotes women having equal access to social, economic, political and cultural opportunities as men. It does not mean that women and men are the same, but rather that their similarities and differences are recognized and equally valued.
Empowerment – is about people -both women and men- taking control over their lives: setting their own agendas, gaining skills, building self-confidence, solving problems and developing self-reliance, and expressing their voice. It is both a process and an outcome. No one can empower another: only the individual can empower herself or himself to make choices or to speak out. However, some institutions can support processes that can nurture self-empowerment of relegated individuals or groups.
Gender Mainstreaming – the process of assessing the implications for women and men of any planned action, including legislation, policies and programmes, in all areas and at all levels. It is a strategy for making women’s as well as men’s concerns and experiences an integral dimension of the design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of policies and programmes in all political, economic and societal spheres so that women and men benefit equally and inequality is not perpetuated. The ultimate goal is gender equality (UN ECOSOC Definition, 1997).