Revisiting Women and Gender Equality as an Important Factor in Our Contemporary Society
Suliat Diekola, Advocacy Intern, Building Blocks for Peace
In contemporary African society, women are treated unequally compared to men, they have been seen as victims of abuse, maltreatment, and helplessness. For instance, some people believe that women’s education ends up in the kitchen while some others believe that women can achieve even more than men. For the current President of Nigeria (Muhammadu Buhari) in 2016 while responding to criticism from his wife, said that ‘‘his wife belongs to his kitchen and his other room”..
It is even generally believed in some quarters that without the husband, women cannot have a source of livelihood, in other words these women are left helpless because the society believes that they have nothing positive to contribute to the world, which is false.
Gender inequality is the social phenomenon in which men and women are treated unequally. The treatment may rise from distinctions regarding Biology, Psychology, or Cultural norms prevalent in the society. Some of these distinctions are empirically grounded, while others appear to be social constructs. Different studies have shown the different experiences of gender across many domains including education, life expectancy, responsibility, interest, family life, career, and political affiliation. Women represent about half of Nigeria’s population but occupy less than 10 percent of political positions (Makama, 2013). Their exclusion from decision making processes affects women’s capacity to influence the domestication of instruments that protect their rights. The main reason that can be attributed to this is patriarchy that prevails in most Nigeria communities despite the country having acceded to international human rights treaties such as the UN Security Council Resolution 1325 that promote gender equality.
Gender inequality permeates every level of Nigeria society, including the political sphere. Gender inequality and discrimination are argued to cause and perpetuate poverty and vulnerability in society. Household and intra-household knowledge and resources are key influences in an individual’s abilities to take advantage of external livelihood opportunities or respond appropriately to threats. High education levels and social integration significantly improve the productivity of all members of the household and improve equity throughout society, this is one of the ways to provide opportunity for women in the society, but in most societies, women are not given the opportunity to education which makes them lack the opportunity to head political positions, especially in the northern part of Nigeria whereby some female children are married out even before they reach their puberty stage.
Although the world is making progress in achieving gender parity in education, a higher percentage of female students are still out-of-school than male children. Families with limited means who cannot afford the cost of education and school supplies for all their children have been alleged to prioritize education for their male children first. Some families also rely on their female children for domestic chores, childcare and in this case living less or no time for studying.
Prioritizing girls’ education provides higher return on investment in the society. An educated girl will be able to make decisions for herself and understand how important education is and, in this case, make sure her own children are educated especially the female children in order to pass the opportunity from one generation to another, this will also make them take part in political processes and have a source of income.
The United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security adopted on 31st October 2000, reaffirms the important role of women in the prevention and resolution of conflict, peace negotiations, peacebuilding, peacekeeping, humanitarian response and in post-conflict construction and stresses the importance of their equal participation and full involvement in all efforts for the maintenance and promotion of peace and security.
Resolution 1325 urges all actors to increase the participation of women and incorporate gender perspective in all United Nations peace and security efforts. It also calls on all parties to conflict to take special measures to protect women and girls from gender-based violence, particularly rape and other forms of sexual abuse, in situations of armed conflict. The resolution provides several important operational mandates, with implication for member states and the entities of the United Nations System, even though this has not been integrated in many countries, in October 2020, the international community marked the twentieth anniversary of U.N. Security Council Resolution(UNSCR) 1325 and its two decades of effort to integrate women and their perspective in peace and security, there will be a lot of positive impact on the society if the 1325 resolution is implemented and in this way we will have enough female making good impact in the society, just has We have a lot of women who have headed their country successfully and they have proved and shown how gender inequality shouldn’t be a form of bias in politics.
Some of the women who have shown good examples include Dr. Ngozi Okonjo- Iweala, Nigeria’s former finance minister and the current Director General of the World Trade Organization (WTO) ; she has also been named Forbes Africa person of the year. We also have Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, as Africa’s first democratically- elected woman president, she was known for the economic, social and political achievement of her administration and in 2011, she was awarded a Nobel peace prize for her work to empower women. Today, Sirleaf is an influential voice for expanding women’s political participation and involvement in decision- making processes. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, is also known for her non- violent struggle for the safety of women and for women’s rights to full participation in peacebuilding work. We also have Tsai Ing-wen the president of Taiwan who is well known for being pro-poor and pro-women. We also have Theresa May the prime minister of the United Kingdom, her effort has included guiding the U.K.’s exit from the European Union and tightening immigration, and many more. These women mentioned above have shown and proven the power of women in political affiliation. These are some of the reasons why women should be given the opportunity to promote peace through the political system and given opportunity in society.
In a nutshell, on the occasion of the celebration of the 2022, International Women’s Day, there is a need to look into the important factors affecting gender inequality in our society inorder to promote effective participation of both genders in all facets, especially aspects such as politics and education. In view of this, let us all say NO to gender inequality and “BREAK THE BIAS ‘’ against women in the society.
Makama G.A (2013) Patriarchy and gender inequality in Nigeria.. https://eujournal.org/index.php/esj/article/view/1161
Nigeria’s president Buhari: My wife belongs in the kitchen. https://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-37659863.amp