Tuesday, March 4, 2008


Gender equality, or equality between women and men, refers to the equal rights, responsibilities and opportunities of and for women and men, girls and boys. Gender equality is not an issue to be treated casually. This is a human rights issue and a precondition for sustainable people centered development.

Equality does not mean that the biological differences between women and men will become the same, but that women’s and men’s rights, responsibilities and opportunities will not depend on whether they are born male or female.The fight for gender equality is not an easy one. It’s not an easy one because the society keeps placing much emphasis on cultural and traditional barriers that have over time cheated women of their fundamental human rights.

The gender differences and relationships are socially constructed and learned through socialization process and in essence have given birth to gender roles over the years. These roles are learned behaviours in a given society, community or in a group, in which people are conditioned to perceive activities, tasks and responsibilities as male or female specific. For instance, women and girls have been given the roles of going to the kitchen, taking care of children, doing all the domestic chores while the men and boys read development books and newspapers, go to work, give money for the upkeep of the family and choose whatever sport to play at their leisure.

Women do not have economic empowerment because, they are meant to get marry and serve their husbands who in quote are the “heads of the family”. The rights to education are often denied women because they are to “end up in the kitchen” while the husbands bring all the money, socialise and make all the connections. This has always have devastating effects on women due to the lack of income for not having means of livelihood. When marriages collapse the women suffer the most. Society has down played the importance of women’s roles in Nation development for so long that it sounds strange to people that women should have equal rights with men. Equal economic participation, equal power sharing and decision making between men and women for example are strange to our society.

Despite the universal declaration of human rights as an instrument of human rights protection, which was adapted by the UN member states on December 19, 1948 to protect the rights of every human being, women’s rights and other issues that are women related and specific are not recognized and protected in practice. Also, the International Bill of Rights (IBOR), which consists of Universal of Human Rights (UDHR), International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) guarantees many rights and freedoms for all women and men. However, in reality basic rights of the vulnerable members of the society like women and children are still not fully recognized as part of human rights in practice.

Women are vulnerable in the society because they have been made to suffer economic injustice, lack of adequate policy on reproductive health, domestic violence and all other forms of discrimination.

To advocate and protect women’s human rights, instruments such as Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) was adopted in 1979 by the UN General Assembly and came to force in 1981. The instrument is specifically for the protection of Women’s Human Rights. Though ratified in Nigeria since July 13th 1985, CEDAW is still yet to be domesticated. This in itself has caused a big constraint in the implementation of CEDAW articles in Nigeria.

To be able to further the work already done by the Non-Governmental Organizations working to promote women’s human rights in achieving gender equality in Nigeria, women human rights instruments such as CEDAW needs to gain recognition because it is vital for development, protection and promotion of women’s human rights in Nigeria.

There is an important role for the youth in Nigeria to play in contributing to the achievement of gender equality in all facet of life. Women’s human rights need to become an integral part of every day life. Therefore, it becomes inevitable that the youth involvement approach would give Women’s human rights much needed awareness as the empowered youths are the agents of change and vehicle of continuity.

The youth involvement approach would serve as an awareness creation and advocacy strategy forum for Women’s human rights among Nigerian Youths at tertiary institutions and by so doing impart the larger society. This can be best achieved through the creation of CEDAW clubs in tertiary institutions with the major aims of building a culture of Women’s Human Rights activism and advocacy among Nigerian Youths and also to build gender discrimination-free culture on campus and among Nigerian youths.
in conclusion, Youth involvement in promoting and development of Women’s Human Rights in achieving gender equality is very vital and essential. The youth are the leaders of tomorrow and the bedrock of any nation therefore their involvement will further hence awareness creation on Women’s Human Rights issues which will assist in achieving gender equality in Nigeria. If more youth were involved before they become policy makers in the future, they would have been well exposed to women’s human rights issues and this would aid their sensitivity to gender issues and as such gender sensitive policies would be easy for them to make and execute.

This article was submitted byStandtall to Baobab for Women's Human Rights as a requirement for employment seeking in 2005.

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