Uncedaw and women sociopolitical rights


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Uncedaw and women sociopolitical rights

  1. 1. UNCEDAW AND WOMEN SOCIO-POLITICAL RIGHTS IN NIGERIA: THE SOUTH-SOUTH EXPERIENCE (1999- 2010) BY OGBAJI, UDOCHUKWU A.O CHAPTER ONE INTRODUCTION1.1 Background to the Study Globally, there has been transformation about the role of women in the society.Women all over the world suffer from and are faced with many, peculiar and complexproblems. Many of these problems revolve around their rights within their differentsocieties. This situation is largely as a result of and exacerbated by, the existence ofseveral discriminatory practices against them. These problems manifest in very differentforms in various societies with extensive implications. Notwithstanding the seemingdifferences in the manifestations and dimensions of the problem, there exist substantiallysomewhat similarities cross-culturally. Antrobus (1991 as cited in Charles-Granville2010, 1) corroborates this position when she explains thus: Although we are divided by race, class, culture and geography, our hope lies in our commonalities. All women’s unremunerated household work is exploited we all have conflicts in our multiple roles, our sexuality is exploited by men, media and the economy, we struggle for survival and dignity, and rich or poor we are vulnerable to violence. We share our “otherness” our exclusion from decision-making at all levels. Nigeria is indeed no exception in all of these. The lives of a great bulk of Nigerianwomen are regulated and influenced by the different customary sub-systems that exist inthe country. Of grave concern includes but not limited to matters in the domain ofownership of property, marriage and divorce, custodianship of children, inheritance,harmful traditional practices which are largely governed by customary laws in the 1
  2. 2. country. There are also statutes, as supporting components of the legal system covering awide range of subjects which discriminate against women in matters of employment,taxation, access to credit and appropriate technology, health care, opportunities forwomen to participate in the decision-making arena and in politics. According to theeditorial comment of Women‘s Rights Monitor (1995, 16), the rights, privileges andopportunities governed by customary laws and statutes are largely inaccessible to womenin real terms. It is pertinent to note that the struggle for the rights of women is a positiveone which recognizes the quality of women‘s contribution in every aspect of thecommunity. In pre-colonial Nigeria, many women gained socio-political and economicprominence either through achievement or as reward as they became more involved intrade. Opportunity existed for women to take leadership roles in politics, religion, socialand economic life. Awe (1992, 61) cited examples of women leaders of that era likeQueen Amina of Zauzzau, Idia of Benin, Moremi of Ife, Kambasa of Bonny, to mention afew. Some Feminists like Jaggar (1983) Young (1989) and Richards (1982) argue thatbecause of the degree of discrimination and disadvantage women face, true equality forwomen must involve a temporary measure of ‗affirmative action‘ whereby-women areappointed or promoted in advance of equally qualified men, or even of reversediscrimination‘ whereby women are appointed before more qualified men. Recent effortsto document the real situation of women world-wide have produced some alarmingstatistics on the economic and social gaps between women and men. According to theLeague of Democratic Women Publication (1999, 31), women constitute the largerproportion of the 68% of the population that is illiterate in Nigeria. Procedures have been evolved at the International, Regional and Domestic levelsas a concrete expression of the concern to bring men and women to an equal footing tothe full protection of individual welfare which is what human rights discourse is allabout. The dominant feature of these standards has been the effort to promote equalitybetween different groups in the enjoyment of human rights and the articulation of thenorm that no particular group should be accorded less favourable treatment than theother. This is one of the basic tenets of the United Nations Charter (1945), which lists 2
  3. 3. among the purposes of the United Nations the promotion and encouragement of respectfor human rights and fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex,language or religion. These norms can also be found in such international documents as the UniversalDeclaration of Human Rights, (United Nations General Assembly, 1948), theInternational Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (often referred to as theEconomic Rights Covenant) and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights(United Nations General Assembly, 1966) (often referred to as the Political Covenant).The same normative standard is expressed in regional documents such as the AfricanCharter on Human and People‘s Rights and can be found at the National level in the 1999Constitution of Nigeria (Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999). This informed women‘s rights advocates to conclude that nothing short of a ―Billof Rights for Women‘ was needed if women are to achieve true equality in all spheres oflife. The bill came in 1979 in the form of the Convention on the Elimination of All Formsof Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). CEDAW, otherwise known as theWomen‘s Convention is the most comprehensive and prominent international legalinstrument to date dealing with the rights of women, spanning a wide range of issuesdirectly relating to women‘s role and status. UNCEDAW is in essence an internationalbill of rights for women providing the basis for ensuring the equality of women in thosecountries that have ratified it. Okagbue (1996 as cited in Charles Granville 2010, 5) sees the UNCEDAW as aframework for women‘s participation in the development process which spells outinternationally accepted principles and standards for achieving equality between womenand men. The Convention has been ratified by 184 States as at August 11, 2006 (UNDivision for Advancement of Women, 2006). Nigeria being a state party to the convention has so far submitted 5 Reports toCEDAW since its ratification in 1985. Nigeria submitted its Initial Report in 1986. The2nd and 3rd Reports were combined and submitted in 1998 at its 19th Session (CEDAW1998, 9), while the 4th and 5th Reports were submitted to the Committee at its 30thSession in 2004. The 6th Periodic Report was submitted to the Committee at its 41stSession on Thursday, 3rd July 2008 with schedule and summary records encoded 3
  4. 4. CEDAW/C/SR.836 and CEDAW/C/SR.837(Charles Granville 2010, 6) also seehttp://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/cedaw/cedaws41.htm. The Reports were sentthrough the Federal Ministry of Women Affairs and Youth Development. Nigeria‘sPeriodic Reports 1 to 5 are indeed salutary in two ways: one, prompt submission of theReports is an important index of compliance with the statutory requirements of theconvention. It is based on the Periodic Reports that the United Nations and theInternational Community at large assess progress made by governments in protecting andpromoting women‘s rights, thereby translating to the elimination of all forms ofdiscrimination against women. Two, the Reports are presented in a manner that suggestsprogressive good-will towards the Convention by the government, Non-governmentalOrganizations and women to the effect that much has been achieved. Prompt submission of Country Reports per se and the notation of progressivegood-will towards women do not clearly show in practical terms, a qualitativeenhancement in the rights of women in Nigeria, their roles in the development process aswell as the total elimination of discrimination against women. For instance, the languageused in the 4th and 5th Periodic Reports state that in compliance to Article I of CEDAW,the Constitution of Nigeria (FRN, 1999:Article 1) confers equality on all citizens ofNigeria irrespective of ethnic group, place of origin, sex, religion or political opinion.Article (1) of CEDAW defines the term ―discrimination Against Women‖ as: Any distinction, exclusion or restriction made on the basis of sex which has the effect or purpose of impairing or nullifying the recognition, enjoyment or exercise by women irrespective of their marital status on a basis of equality of men and women, rights and fundamental freedoms in the political., economic, social, cultural, civil or any other field.Article (2) requires governments to eliminate discrimination against women andenunciates government‘s obligation to promote equality and ensure full development andadvancement of women through constitutional, legal and other appropriate means. The1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in Section 42 confers equality on allcitizens of Nigeria (FRN, 1999:23-24). It states thus: 4
  5. 5. (1) A citizen of Nigeria of a particular community, ethnic group, place of origin, sex, religion or political opinion, shall not by reason only that he is such a person — (a) be subjected either expressly by, or in the practical application of, any law in force in Nigeria or any such executive or administrative action of the government to disabilities or restrictions to which citizens of Nigeria of other communities, ethnic groups, places of origin, sex, religious or political opinions are not made subject to; or (b) be accorded either expressly by, or in the practical application of, any law in force in Nigeria or any such executive or administrative action, any privilege or advantage that is not accorded to citizens of Nigeria of other communities, ethnic groups, places of oil gin, sex, religious or political opinions. (2) No citizen of Nigeria shall be subjected to any disability or deprivation merely by reason of the circumstances of his birth. The policy thrust of the National Policy on Women (NPW) supports Nigeriajoining other countries to adopt the UN CEDAW, affirms the alleviation of the numerousconstraints on women‘s full integration into its development process. The policy whichwas adopted by the Nigerian government in the year 2000 has been highly commended asgovernment‘s major way of redirecting public policies to promote gender equality.Unfortunately, it does not define ―discrimination against women‖ which is a grievousomission. On Article 4 which concerns Rural Women, it is reported that successivegovernments have taken measures and instituted policies to enhance the living standardsof women in rural areas through The Better Life for Rural Women Programme(BLRWP), The Family Support Programme (FSP), The Family Economic AdvancementProgramme (FEAP) amongst many others. In reality, the above mentioned measures areyet to benefit the rural Women as little improvement is seen in this area owing to lack ofcommitment. Studies have shown for instance, that these programmes are not usuallyimplemented in the rural communities but in the urban cities. 5
  6. 6. For instance, Funds allocated to the rural people are often hijacked by the urbanelite who form Cooperative Societies as a ruse to qualify for the loans (Adewole, 2001;Africa Watch, 1991). Worse still, most of the programmes mentioned above anddiscussed in the government Report to the CEDAW Committee are not sustainable. InArticle 15 of CEDAW, Equality before the law, the Nigerian Constitution also guaranteesequality of men and women in its Chapter 14 which deals with fundamental rights. Thetruth is that despite the notion of equality as stated in the Constitution, discriminatoryabuses abound in Nigeria. Socio-cultural factors pose major obstacles to the advancement of women rights.Customs, culture, tradition and religion have continued to relegate women to an inferiorposition. Harmful traditional practices such as Widowhood Rites, Inheritance, FemaleGenital Mutilation (FGM) Early and Forced Marriage, and other practices such as SexualHarassment, Wife battery, Human Trafficking and several others work against women insociety (Charles Granville 2010, 10). Customary laws have continued to limit the rightsof women in and out of marriage as they have no land rights, right of inheritance andsuccession but are subjected to all forms of cultural violence. As recorded by theInternational Human Rights Law Group in August 2001, millions of African andNigerian women become destitute upon the death of their husbands, particularly if theyare childless, their children are female, or their sons are minor (International HumanRights Group and Women‘s Aid Collective, 2001). Also the complex interaction of the multi-tiered legal structure which functionssimultaneously with very significant informal social controls based on gender, ethnicityand religion affects the status of women. Section 55 of the Northern Penal Code ofNigeria (PC, 1963) allows for chastisement of the wife by the husband as long as it doesnot amount to the infliction of grievous injury. All of the above forms of discriminationare inimical to the achievement of the rights of women and their advancement in Nigeria.Sequel to this, this research work therefore intends to establish a link between the impactsof the UNCEDAW and women socio-political rights in Nigeria with reference to theSouth-South region.1.2 Statement of the Problem 6
  7. 7. Challenges of women rights in the face of the existing internationalconvention, the UNCEDAW, that are intended to improve the conditions of women in theNigerian society are alarming. Women‘s equal dignity and human rights as full humanbeings are enshrined in the basic National, Regional and International instruments toprotect the rights of women. Nigeria is signatory to most of these International Treaties. Itsurprises one that despite the widespread movement towards democratization in mostcountries of the world, women are largely under-represented at most levels ofgovernment especially ministerial and other executive bodies and have made littleprogress in attaining political power in legislative bodies or in achieving the 30 percentendorsed by the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC, 1995), (UN Publication,1996). According to the Nigerian Constitution chapter IV section 42, (Federal Republic ofNigeria, 1999) the basic fundamental human rights of every citizen is guaranteed. In spiteof this effort and the tenets of UNCEDAW which Nigeria ratified, little seems to havebeen achieved in Nigeria with regard to women rights. Women are still subjected totraditional, cultural practices and beliefs harmful to them, including Female GenitalMutilation (FGM), Child and Early Marriage, widowhood practices, sexual harassmentand Son Preference. Male-favoured traditions and values prevent women from owningand inheriting landed property. Akande (1979, 66) contends that Nigerian women do nothave full legal capacity in so far as they are unable to independently enter into contracts,acquire and own property, enter into legal transactions, sue or be sued‖. The Nigerianlegal system today still limits the rights of a woman in marriage under all the functionallegal systems (Statutory, Sharia and Customary Law). Scholars like Ezeilo (2002), Olufemi (1993), Ofor (1998) as well as ActivistsGroups such as Women‘s International Network (WIN), Civil Liberties Organization(CLO) argue that the ideological reinforcement for structural inequality is provided bycustoms, practices and norms within the society. Consequently, the rights as enshrined ininternational conventions especially UNCEDAW face these obstacles that are inherent insociety. It has also been argued that one of the major global constraints on the promotionof women‘s rights has been the depressed economic environment in which manydeveloping countries find themselves. Welch (1993) and Ekpenyong (1991) are of the 7
  8. 8. view that the Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP) embarked upon by manydeveloping countries have restructured their economies and compelled governments tocut back spending and significant economic contraction due to privatization ofgovernment-owned business to the detriment of women. This affects the rights of allNigerians but women are particularly worse off. Under colonial rule however, women lost a great deal of authority and theopportunity to participate in decision-making due to their exclusion from all levels ofadministration. The economic system granted men more opportunity than women formeaningful participation, a legal system was introduced wherein women lost some of thebenefits open to them in pre-colonial societies. A religious system was also imposedwhich deprived women of their pre-colonial power and authority. More males thanfemales had access to the educational system. These elements of institutionalized maledominance were in no small reason due to the exigencies of colonial administration andthe high ‗protection quotient‘ of the traditional society for females. The ColonialAdministration offered jobs to only those with some knowledge of the English language,the language of bureaucracy and governance in colonial Nigeria. The traditional societywas somewhat protective of women, preferring to keep them at home rather than havethem test the ―unknown waters‖ of western education (Charles-Granville 2010, 13). It is interesting to note that government at different times had tried to proffersome solutions to the problem of rights of women especially the socio-political andeconomic rights of women, by introducing women-friendly poverty-alleviationprogrammes like Better Life for Rural Women Programme (BLFRWP), Family SupportProgramme (FSP), Family Economic Advancement Programme (FEAP), AdultEducation Programmes and many others. The paradox has been that despite theseprogrammes, no dramatic changes have taken place to ameliorate the situation of women.This situation is very much pronounced in the communities within the South- South zoneof the Country where development has been neglected by successive governments. Theenvironment of the South-South zone has been devastated and degraded by the oilcompanies in course of their exploration and gas flaring activities that mostly affect themeans of livelihood of the people and especially that of the women in this area. 8
  9. 9. From the foregoing, the following pertinent research questions becomeimperative:(a) Does the tenets of UNCEDAW enhance access to education of women in the South-South zone of Nigeria?(b) Does the ratification of UNCEDAW improve the involvement of women in decision making in the South-South zone of Nigeria?(c) Does the tenets of UNCEDAW make any change on the people towards the traditional and entrenched patriarchal attitudes that impedes the rights of women in the South-South zone of Nigeria?1.3 Objectives of the Study The aim of this study is to examine the impact of UNCEDAW on women socio-political rights in Nigeria with reference to the South-South zone of Nigeria (1999-2010).Consequently, the specific objectives of this study are to: Examine if the tenets of UNCEDAW enhance access to education of women in the South-South zone of Nigeria. Ascertain if the ratification of UNCEDAW improve the involvement of women in decision making in the South-South zone of Nigeria. Ascertain if the tenets of UNCEDAW made any change on the people towards the traditional and entrenched patriarchal attitudes that impedes the rights of women in the South-South zone of Nigeria.1.4 Significance of the Study The goal of any research is primarily to find solution to some problems.Consequently, we hope that our study will contribute substantially in proffering solutionsto the problems of women rights as well as offer suggestions for sustainable womenadvancement in Nigeria. The policy relevance of this work is potentially relevant forNigeria policy makers. It is a promising source of information for Women Activists, themedia and women themselves in the rural and urban areas of the country. The research findings will also be of invaluable benefit towards thedevelopmental efforts in the region. Students of Gender Studies, we hope will also find 9
  10. 10. the work useful in some ways. At least, it will be very informative and even provide abasis on which other studies with bearing on the development of women can be anchored. Finally, by providing the evidence in this area of the country, the study willprovide baseline data for national, regional and international organizations concernedwith the promotion of the rights of women.1.5 Scope of the Study Geographically, this study covers the South-South geo-political zone of Nigeria(1999-2010), comprising Cross River, Akwa -Ibom, Rivers, Bayelsa, Delta and Edostates. In terms of the content, the study examined the impact of the UNCEDAW onwomen socio-political rights in Nigeria with reference to the South-South zone. This iswith regard but not limited to access to education, positions in public sphere andsubjections to discrimination and harmful traditional practices.1.6 Literature Review Rights of Women and the Laws that Promote and Protect them Since 1945, so many treaties and legal instruments have been drafted at theinternational regional as well as at national levels specifically to deal with issues ofconcern to women in a bid to advance their status in various societies of the world. Thedominant feature of these standards is the effort to promote equality between differentgroups in the enjoyment of human rights and to ensure that no particular group isaccorded less favourable treatment than the other. The principle can also be found in suchinternational documents as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR -1948),the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR-1966) and theInternational Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR-1966) whichtogether make up the International Bill of Rights. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights calls for equal rights in marriage. Itstipulates that marriage ―shall be entered into only with the free and full consent of theintending spouses‖. It also calls for equal pay for equal work and for the protection ofmotherhood (U.N. 1948). The Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rightsrecognizes the right to work, free choice of employment; fair wages, form and joinunions, social security, adequate standards of living, freedom from hunger, health andeducation. (U.N.1948). States that have ratified the Covenant acknowledge their 10
  11. 11. responsibility to promote better living conditions for their people. The Covenant on Civiland Political Rights recognizes the right of every human person to life, liberty andsecurity of person. It prohibits the use of the death sentence on pregnant women, providesfor equality between men and women during marriage and at its dissolution and for theright to participate in public life without discrimination. It finally declares that equalitybefore the law and the principle of non-discrimination are enforceable rights (UN.1948:6-5). Through the work of the Commission on the Status of Women, a number of otherinternational treaties devoted to issues affecting specific aspects of women‘s lives wereadopted by the international community. This was in direct recognition of the failure ofhuman rights law generally to adequately deal with issues of concern to women. Theseinclude: The Convention Concerning the Employment and Occupation of Women,Convention Against Discrimination in Education, the Equal Remuneration Convention,the Slavery Conventions, the Convention on the Suppression of the Traffic in Persons andof the Exploitation of the Prostitution of others (lLO, 1958). The Convention on theNationality of Married Women, (UNESCO, 1960). The Convention on the PoliticalRights of Women, the Declaration on the Protection of Women and Children inEmergency and Armed Conflicts as well as the Convention on the Rights of MigrantWorkers and Members of their Families. In 1979, the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of DiscriminationAgainst Women (CEDAW), also known as the ‗Women Convention‘ was adopted by theGeneral Assembly. This is the most comprehensive and prominent internationalinstrument embracing the special concerns of women. The convention has been describedas an International Bill of Rights for Women and a framework for the participation ofwomen in the development process. The Women‘s Convention has moved beyond earlier human rights instrumentswhich in gender neutral terms require the equal treatment of men and women, torecognize the particular nature of discrimination against women and to demand for aredress of the situation of women. It identifies the urgent need to confront the socio-economic, cultural, political and religious causes of women‘s inequality by addressingitself to the prohibition of all forms and manifestations of discrimination against women 11
  12. 12. in the public and private spheres, calling for appropriate measures to guarantee them theexercise and enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms on the basis ofequality with men. Despite the far-reaching nature of this Convention, it has been however saddledwith reservations mostly on religious and cultural grounds, which had seriouslyweakened the conceptual framework of the Convention and has undermined its objectand purpose. According to Cook (1990, 81), most Muslim and third world countries haverefused to ratify some areas of the Convention. Others for cultural and traditional beliefshave found it very difficult to implement the Convention in their countries. Nevertheless, the Women‘s Convention remains a useful statement at principleaccepted by the international community and has made significant in-roads in addressingthe neglect of women‘s concerns in ―mainstream‖ human rights instruments. The samenormative standard is also expressed in regional documents such as the Africa Charter ofHuman and People‘s Rights (1981) and at the National level, the 1999 NigerianConstitution (FRN, 1999). The campaign for the advancement of women gathered momentum with theproclamation of 1975 as International Women‘s Year and the convening, that same yearof the first major conference on the status of women. The conference which held inMexico City, helped to mobilize women around the world, expanding the workingrelationship between the United Nations and Non-Governmental Organizations with thetheme-Equality, Development and Peace, which became the basis for the organization‘swork for women thereafter. The World Plan of Action for the implementation of theobjectives of the International Women Year (IWY) set targets and proposed action atboth national and international levels for the UN decade for women, 1976-1985(Women‘s International Information and Communication Service, 1983). A Second World conference was held in 1980 at Copenhagen. Denmark to reviewand appraise implementation of targets set in the World Plan of Action (WPA). Inaddition to the overall themes of the decade, the document focused especially onproblems of employment, education and health. The Third Conference was held inNairobi, Kenya in 1985 to review and appraise achievements over the Decade as a whole,and to draw up guidelines for the future. Delegates at Nairobi adopted the Nairobi 12
  13. 13. Forward-looking strategies (FLS) for the advancement of women to the year 2000. Anevaluation of the FLS by the UN Commission on the Status of Women revealed anincreasing world consciousness and sensitivity to issues affecting women but withimplementation problems. The everyday lives of women all over the world tend to give constant evidence ofwomen being considered as property, goods, beasts, less than human beings, to the shameof those perpetuating such inhumane practices. This situation of women was described byGeraldine Ferraro, an American Lawyer and a former candidate for the United StatesVice-Presidency thus: When women are casually beaten and killed, as though it didn’t matter, they are being denied full humanity. When little girls get less food, less medical care, less education and more work than little boys; when women can’t travel or marry or leave their homes without some man’s permission; when rights to vote, to meet, or to speak out are circumscribed; when children and property belong legally only to men; when women are denied the right to control their own bodies-how can women be fully human? (Ferraro, 1993:20). The slogan, ―Women‘s Rights are Human Rights‖ was used by women‘s groupsbefore and during the 1993 United Nations World Conference on Human Rights inVienna. The conference was a victory for women, a big leap forward in acquisition oftheir legitimate status in relation to their human rights. It affirmed women‘s rights as acentral element in the overall global human rights agenda, and stressed the importance ofconfronting the specific problem of violence against women (UN World Conference onHuman, 1993). The conference and the determined efforts of several women‘s groups inthe NGO Forum, opened wide the door between the private and public domains whichwas tightly closed before. Another landmark event in the efforts to achieve full equality for women was theFourth World Conference on Women, held in Beijing in 1995 which set a new globalagenda for achieving gender equality. It was the largest conference in the history of theUnited Nations with some 17,000 participants. The Conference unanimously adopted anew global blueprint for women‘s empowerment, spelt out in a five-year Platform forAction and a Beijing Declaration. The platform for Action affirms that women‘s humanrights are inalienable, universal, indivisible and interdependent. It put forth the principlethat rights for all must be defended and preserved (UN, 1995). It calls on governments, 13
  14. 14. organizations and individuals to promote and protect the human rights of women, throughthe full implementation of all relevant human rights instruments, especially theConvention on the Elimination of All forms of Discrimination Against Women(CEDAW). It also set to work to ensure that equality of the sexes and non-discriminationbased on gender exist both in law and in practice. The Beijing platform identified ―12critical areas‖ of action needed to empower women and to ensure their human right.These include Women and poverty, Education and training of women, Women andHealth, Violence against women and Women and armed conflict. Other areas includeWomen and the economy, Women in power and decision-making, InstitutionalMechanisms for the advancement of women and Human rights of women. Other areas areWomen and the media, Women and the environment and the girl-child. Following the Fourth World Conference on Women, the Commission on thestatus of Women (CSW) was mandated to regularly review the Platform for Action‘sCritical Areas of concern and play a catalytic role in follow-up to the Conference. The―Beijing +5‖ review, entitled ―Women 2000: Gender Equality, Development and Peacefor 21st Century‖, took place at the 23rd Special Session of the UN General Assembly on5-10 June, 2000 in New York. Governments reaffirmed their commitment to the goals ofthe Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action. In keeping to their promise,governments, NGOs at the national, regional and international levels and civil societyorganizations have continued to work towards the improvement of the rights of women.Despite the progress made; the objectives of the Convention largely remain to beachieved. This is the reason for our research, to ascertain the extent to which the goalshave been met in the South region of Nigeria. ―Women‘s Rights are Human Rights‖ was a popular slogan used by women‘sgroups both before and during the United Nation‘s World Conference on Human Rightswhich took place in Vienna Austria, June 1993. It is true that women are humans too butthe reality for women is that they are denied their humanity for so long as those rightsrecognized as ―human rights‖ are not applied equally to women worldwide. Women Activists are of the opinion that existing human rights laws often timesdo not have a gender perspective since these laws are seen to have disregarded importantand very fundamental issues peculiar to women. Writing on the rights of women, Bunch 14
  15. 15. (1991, 79) notes that from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to the more recentconvention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women(CEDAW), discrimination against women is explicitly prohibited. The reason womenstill visit on their rights is that despite the ratification of these treaties by several countrieswho are state parties to these conventions, the female half of humanity remains subject todistinctive and continuous forms of abuse, injustice and violence as well as an enormousrange of legal disabilities and discrimination simply because they are female. Thesepractices have been ignored or have not generally been viewed as violations of the humanrights and freedoms of women. Although global interest in human rights has increased since World War II andthe adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights provided the framework forinternational covenants, the struggle for women‘s rights has been recent and gainedmomentum during the last two decades. This has given rise to new organizations, newlaws and new levels of political activism on the part of women, particularly in the legalarea. Women have discovered new means and tools which they are now using to press forchange on behalf of their rights at the international and national levels. Theseinternational conventions and treaties or pacts are legally binding agreements on thecountries which provide standards of conduct for governments to fulfill (Semler, et al,1998, 106). These Conventions guarantee a wide range of rights that cover economic, social,political and cultural rights with laws that protect them. Others address specific rightssuch as convention on the nationality of married women and others. By ratifying theseconventions, state parties agree to ensure that all their citizens enjoy the human rightscovered by the conventions. Semler et al record that the major weakness in this system isthat there is no international police force to monitor human rights violations, also thereare no international courts where individuals can place a claim against government thesystem therefore relies heavily on political pressure to enforce human rights laws. Reanda (1981, 116) observed that the main international human rights organs likethe United Nations Commission on Human Rights and the International Convention onthe Civil and Political rights do not appear to specifically deal with violations of humanrights of women but rather through the CEDAW Committee. There has therefore been a 15
  16. 16. gettoization of questions relating to women. Charlesworth (1994) also notes that thestructure for supporting women‘s human rights instruments are more fragile than themainstream human rights instruments which do not address specific rights, she arguesthat international instruments dealing with women have weaker implementation,obligations and procedures and the institutions to draft and monitor them are under-resourced and their roles often circumscribed compared to other human rights bodies.Although CEDAW‘s separate concepts of women‘s rights were recast in a global womenrights perspective, supervisory machinery was set up with terms of reference similar tothose of existing human rights organs. Wright (1989, 38) in her work observed that the language of human rights isresolutely and utterly rude. The rights which are guaranteed are the Rights of Man‖ or―mankind.‖ This is because at the time the ―Bill of Rights‖ was drafted into theconstitution of France, United States of America and Britain for example, women werespecifically excluded from most market oriented economics and all political institutions.The claimed gender neutrality of modern international instruments disguises thisbackground and distracts attention from the marginalization and exclusion of womenthrough the period when modern political and economic rights were being defined. Someof the reasons for the non-inclusion of issues affecting women on the ―mainstream‖human rights are summarized by Wright thus: The historical construction of modern human rights from norms and institutions were designed by men to serve men’s interests. The cultural construction of women’s reproductive role and continuance of this role within the family. The division of rights into discrete categories and definitions such as civil, political, economic, social, cultural and people’s rights do not reflect the reality of women’s lives. At the regional level, the problem persists, for instance in the African Charter onHuman and People‘s Rights, Welch (1984, 22) observes that although the charter makesreference to the elimination of discrimination based on sex and specific reference to theelimination of discrimination against women, Article 7 goes on to provide for theprotection of morals and traditional values recognized by the community apparentlyoverlooking the fact that some of these traditional values embody practices that areoppressive to women and impose severe limitation on the rights that women are supposed 16
  17. 17. to enjoy. He further states that the African Charter gives little direct attention to womenas a group although its makers were clearly aware of CEDAW and other majorinternational human rights documents. According to him, some observers have arguedthat the African Charter conveys a potentially ambiguous message in its attempt torecognize both deep-seated African values which include differentiation of roles andrights based on gender and the emerging global values among which non-discriminationon the basis of sex features prominently. At the National level, the Nigerian Constitution guarantees the human rights of itscitizens including women, but Chukwuma (1998, 95) observes that there exist somedeep-rooted socio-cultural norms that greatly impede the emancipation of women. Thesemanifest in various obnoxious practices against women denying them their fundamentalhuman rights in every sphere of life and human Endeavour. For African women, humanrights been highly controversial, the reason is the inter-linkage between culture andhuman rights. From the viewpoint of Cultural Relativists which strongly oppose the idea :universality of human rights, some African leaders and politicians (male) have denouncedas ―un-African‖ the norms of women‘s human rights as have been internationallyestablished claiming that phenomena such as authority and equality for women are aliento African culture (Jensen and Poulsen 1993, 77). They claim that the notion of human rights is incompatible with the very essenceof African culture, the conflict being between the individualism of human rights and thecrucial importance of collectivism in African culture. Others are especially skeptical anddismiss the issue as unimportant. The reason is that these are deeply embedded in ourculture that women cannot and are not expected to stand up for their right. This has madeit obviously difficult for most African and Third World countries to adequately protectthe rights of women within these cultures. Howard (1983) posits that these Africanleaders and politicians hide under the guise of culture to subjugate women in theircountries. Women‘s human rights are most explicitly laid down in International Conventionsespecially in CEDAW which has been ratified by most of these countries. Because itcontains some highly controversial articles especially Article 5, many countries havesubmitted reservations or have refused to take action on the requirements. 17
  18. 18. Rao (1995, 41) has attacked the position of the Cultural Relativists who deny thelegitimacy and relevance of human rights to African women. To her, cultures are not butdynamic and are not neutral or unitary wholes. She notes that owing to the dynamicnature of culture, traditional rights and support for women and family in most societiesare changing and so individuals apply different interpretations and strategies dependingon the interests and relative power. Some scholars see human rights as the universallyavailable moral vernacular that validates the claims of women and children against theoppression they experience in patriarchal societies (Ignatief, 1998, 68). Referring toAmnesty International‘s efforts to promote women‘s human rights, Roach (1993, 51)affirms the need to integrate women‘s issues of concern into the mainstream humanrights mechanism of the United Nations. The aim is to ensure that women‘s voices andtheir experience and re-interpretation of women‘s human rights will be done by womenthemselves to eliminate discrimination based on sex from the human rights agenda. Thisis because women by virtue of their humanity share a fundamental ontological existence;hence their rights should be recognized as human rights and treated as such. It is also noted that despite the far-reaching nature of the UNCEDAW, it issaddled with reservations mostly on religious and cultural grounds which had seriouslyweakened the convention‘s conceptual framework and has undermined its object andpurpose. According to Cook (1990, 12), most Muslim and Third World Countries haverefused to ratify some areas of the convention. Others for cultural and traditional beliefshave found it very difficult to implement the convention in their countries. At the regional level, Welch (1993, 80) in his study attempted to draw acomparison protection of the human rights of women under two major treaties at theregional and international levels, The African Charter and People‘s Rights and theWomen Convention. Questioning the effectiveness of these agreements in amelioratingthe obstacles confronting women in Africa, he regrets that despite the lofty goals ofinternational conferences and conventions held in various parts of the world (Copenhagen1980, Nairobi 1985) etc. There is still a wide gap between the lofty ideals and the realityof daily life especially in most societies south of the Sahara. Although the charter makesreference to the elimination of discrimination against women, Article 7 goes on toprovide for the protection of morals and traditional values recognized by the community 18
  19. 19. apparently overlooking the fact that some of these traditional values embody practicesthat are oppressive to women and impose severe limitations on the rights that women aresupposed to enjoy. He opines however that the weaknesses of these international regimes should notlead us to overlook their potential significance as one of having means of reducing thesexual inequalities that characterized Africa and the rest of the world. He observed thatwomen in Africa especially those in the rural areas suffer most owing to cultural barrierswhich interact with low levels of economic development. As a result, their conditions oflife have not improved despite the attention provided through the global treaties. He addsthat since the adoption of UNCEDAW and the African charter on Human and People‘sRights, there has been a serious decline in the living standards of women in most of theAfrican States. This is due to the prevailing poverty which marks more than threequarters & residents in Sub-Saharan Africa. Pointing out the strengths and weaknesses ofthe treaties, whereas the women‘s convention precisely tackles the issue of concern towomen, the African Charter gives little attention to women as a group although itsdrafters were aware of CEDAW and other major international human rights documents.Under both treaties, the responsibility for enforcement rests with the ratifying states.Power is therefore exercised by governments and not the treaties, the supervisory bodies,which is a major weakness for both regimes. Welch is of the opinion that despite theselimitations, progress in achieving women‘s rights in Africa, though slow, can be seen inthe application of the Women‘s Convention and the African Charter on Human andPeople s Rights. Another scholarly work relating to our concern is that of Mayer (1995). On theissue of women‘s human rights, Mayer notes that there are two basic positions thatpeople tow i.e. the Universalist and the Cultural relativist. The universalist positionentails that ――all members of the human family‖‖ share the same inalienable rights,meaning that the international community has the right to judge, by reference tointernational standards, the ways states treat their own citizens and that states mustreform their constitutions and laws where necessary to conform with international norms.According to them all women are entitled to the rights set forth in international covenants 19
  20. 20. and conventions such as the 1966 international covenant on civil and political rights andCEDAW of 1981. Cultural Relativists on the other hand argue that members of one society arewrong in condemning the practices of societies with different traditions. Where Westerncriticism of the treatment of women of the Middle East are concerned, cultural relativistsobject to universalist approaches on the ground that they use criteria that are ostensiblyinternational but actually reflect the Western values linked to cultural imperialism. Mayertries to assess one aspect of the implication of the cultural relativist arguments: appeals towhat might be called ――Islamic particularism‖ to justify the demand of civil and politicalrights to Middle Eastern Muslim women. She explains that Middle Eastern governments‘insistence that cultural particularism requires the international community to toleratethose governments discrimination against women constitutes a misguided application ofcultural relativism. On the status of the Muslim women, cultural relativists argue that the reasons fortolerating deviations from international norms are particularly strong because thesediscriminatory features of Middle Eastern laws are directly traceable to religiousprecepts. The Sharia or lslamic law being of divine origin they claim, enjoys automaticand unquestioning obedience from its adherents; accordingly demanding respect forhuman rights could be seen as disrespect for divine law and would attract sanctions.Middle Eastern governments have made deliberate attempts at stifling dissenting womenin countries like Iran, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt (Charles-Granville 2010, 47). Depending on the country involved, women are compelled to wear concealinggarments in public, excluded from studying certain subjects, deprived of voting rights andare not even allowed to drive cars amongst many other restrictions. Consequently, manyMuslim countries i.e. Bangladesh, Libya, Tunisia have invoked ‗Islam‖ to justify theserestrictive laws as the reason for making their treaty reservations. Mayer notes that itwould obviously be hard to justify the intention of such discriminatory laws if theprinciples of CEDAW are applied. She showed dissatisfaction with the UN stand on thenon-compliance to the tenets of CEDAW by these Muslim states who are tolerated andare still treated as parties to a convention whose substantive provisions they hadprofessed their unwillingness to abide by. She laments that of all the human rights 20
  21. 21. treaties, CEDAW has the greatest number reservations from countries that have refusedto comply with its norms (Charles-Granville 2010, 48). Other non Muslim countries, for example Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Cyprus,Thailand, and Jamaica etc., also register reservations that undermine the treaty. This maybe because the governmental actors in international fora consist of, for the most part,men. Mayer also castigates some countries in the West like United States and SovietUnion who also have anti-feminist policies. She concludes that claims from diverse statesand regions who state that the conventions interfere with their right to culture have thesame consequence of denying women equal rights. Where such reasons are condonedMayer opines that these actions are nothing more than disguises for the universality ofmale determination to cling to power and privilege. The work of Charlesworth (1993) focuses on the current international humanrights structure whose norms and laws in her opinion create obstacles to the advancementof women. She points out that this is so because most of the international law makinginstitutions are often dominated by men, thereby the international human rights laws aredeveloped to reflect the experiences of men rather than that of women. Examining theinternational legal structure, she observes that at the international levels, the extant powerstructures are overwhelmingly dominated by men. Very few governments have women insignificant positions of power and even where they are, the numbers are extremely small.This trend manifests in the UN secretariat, international organizations and specializedagencies despite the terms of Article 8 of the UN charter. Charlesworth however notesthat whereas women are grossly under-represented in the UN human rights bodies i.e.one woman (out of 18 members) on the Committee on The Elimination of Racialdiscrimination two women (out of 18 members) on the Economic, Social and CulturalRights Committee, three women (out of 18 members) on the Human Rights Committee,in the Committee on the Elimination of All forms of Discrimination Against Women, allthe members are women. She laments the situation where men dominate all the majorinstitutions of the international legal order. Issues of concern to men are therefore seen as general human concerns andwomen‘s concerns in contrast are regarded as a distinct and limited category.Charlesworth opines that unless women‘s experiences contribute‘ directly to the 21
  22. 22. mainstream international legal order, beginning with women‘s equal representation in thelaw making fora, international human rights law will lose its claims to universalapplicability and should therefore be characterized as international men‘s rights law. Shefurther observes that many international human rights principles are inherently biasedagainst women as these international human rights laws like the national legal systemsoperate primarily in the public sphere traditionally associated with men. While the privatesphere traditionally associated with women is regarded as being outside the scope of bothnational laws and international human rights laws. She points out that the most pervasiveharm against women tends to be perpetrated in the private realm, within the family. Shealso noted that male human rights principles are drawn from each of the so-calledgeneration of rights where the North typically gives prominence to the first generation ofCivil and Political rights while the South emphasizes the importance of the second andthird generations of rights i.e. the Economic, Social, Cultural and Group rights. Onestriking common feature of these three generations of rights is that they exclude theexperiences of women. Recognizing that most UN work relating to the advancement of women iscentered on the Commission on the Status of Women and CEDAW and that both haveprovided a valuable focus for women‘s interests in the international system. She pointsout ironically that the creation of a specialized branch of women‘s human rights law hasalso allowed its marginalization. She advocates that to make the international legalsystem effective, women‘s voices and experiences should be included in the definition ofthe human rights norms. Above all the UN should ensure that women‘s experiences areincorporated into mainstream international law. In her assessment of the implementation of these conventions in differentcountries, Robinson (1998, 113) asserts that although human rights Conventions relevantto the needs and concerns of women have been fought and won, yet the problem ofimplementation still remains. She observes that although the experiences of women differfrom one country to another, that for a vast majority of women, there is still a huge gapbetween their human rights entitlements and their actual enjoyment of these rights in theireveryday lives. 22
  23. 23. This is widely portrayed by Semler et al (1998, 89) in their record of HumanRights violation by different countries of the world. They state that women make-up halfthe world‘s population but account for only 5 to 10 percent of political leadershippositions worldwide. Women contribute up to 70 percent of their local and nationaleconomies yet receive less than one-tenth of the world‘s income and two-thirds of theworld‘s 960 million illiterates are women. Regardless of the giant strides made by womenin the workplace, women are discriminated against and receive less pay, less protectedand promoted less than men and are made to work under poor working conditions. This isdiscovered to be the case especially for women factory workers in Bangladesh, Mexico,Morocco, Vietnam Indonesia etc, Semler et al concludes. According to a United Nations report (1995) there is no country in the worldwhere women‘s average earnings are equal to that of men. Even in countries that reporton non-agricultural wages for men and women, the average wage for women is about 75percent that of men. Only in four countries (Tanzania, Australia, Vietnam, Sri-Lanka) dowomen earn 90 percent of men‘s wages. The report shows that the proportion is less than60 percent in China, South Korea, Japan, Bangladesh and Russia. In many societies of the world, under the law marriage is supposed to be a jointand equal partnership but violence in and outside the home has reached an epidemicproportion. In countries where the laws protect women‘s rights in marriage, customsoften dictate otherwise. Again, Semler et al (op. cit.) note that in Bangladesh, 72 percentof girls between 15 and 19 are married compared with only 7.4 percent of boys. InNigeria, nearly 25 percent of girls marry before the age of 13. From the literature we reviewed, Several works have been done on issues ofconcern to women and Scholars as well as various governments have expressed concernabout the plight of women. These works cover issues such as Rights of Women; WomenEmpowerment and Reproductive Health; Women and environment, Nigerian Women inPolitics, Women and Poverty Alleviation; Women in Nigerian History and several others.The recognition and extensiveness of these issues show that the issue of the rights ofwomen is indeed a serious one. However, not much seems to have been done on theimpact of the UNCEDAW, which Nigeria is a signatory to, on the socio-political rights ofwomen in the South-South Zone of the country. The thrust of this study is therefore 23
  24. 24. tailored towards this aspect. It was clear that Socio-cultural factors pose major obstaclesto the advancement of women socio-political rights. Customs, culture, tradition andreligion have continued to relegate women to an inferior position. Harmful traditionalpractices such as Widowhood Rites, Inheritance, Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) Earlyand Forced Marriage, and other practices such as Sexual Harassment, Wife battery,Human Trafficking and several others work against women in society. Customary lawshave also continued to limit the rights of women. We observed that most of ourrespondents are ignorant of the existence of international instruments like theUNCEDAW that has been put in place for the protection of the rights of women. Thisculminates into not knowing their rights as humans. It was surprising to us that evensome lawmakers in the Houses of Assembly of the states visited were unaware of theexistence of the UNCEDAW. This is the gap this research thesis seeks to close.1.7 Research Hypotheses (a) The tenets of UNCEDAW made a significant impact on women access to education in the South-South zone of Nigeria. (b) The ratification of UNCEDAW does not improve the involvement of women in decision making in the South-South zone of Nigeria. (c) The tenets of UNCEDAW do not make any significant change on the people towards the traditional and entrenched patriarchal attitudes that impedes the rights of women in the South-South zone of Nigeria.1.8 Theoretical Framework There are various strands of Feminist Thought with different approaches toliberate women but we will discuss three major strands of Feminism, namely RadicalFeminism, Socialist Feminism and Liberal Feminism, and thereafter justify our choice forthe study.1.8.1 Radical Feminism Radical feminists in Western society assert that their society is a patriarchy inwhich men are the primary oppressors of women. Radical feminists seek to abolishpatriarchy. Radical feminism posits the theory that, due to patriarchy, women have cometo be viewed as the "other" to the male norm and as such have been systematicallyoppressed and marginalized. They also believe that the way to deal with patriarchy and 24
  25. 25. oppression of all kinds is to address the underlying causes of these problems throughrevolution. This theory is based on women‘s own experiences and sees no need tocompromise with existing political perspectives. Radical Feminists see the oppression ofWomen as the most fundamental and universal form of domination and aims tounderstand and end patriarchy (rule of men). The torch bearers of this theory in the late1970s includes: Andrea Dworkin, Phyllis Chesler, Monique Wittig, Mary Daly, JillJohnston, and Robin Morgan. Millet (1973) argues that in all known societies, that relationship between the sexeshas been based on power, and that they are therefore political. This power takes the formof male domination over women in all areas of life, including the most intimate, and isinstitutionalized through the social structures of family (marriage, motherhood, love andsexual intercourse) and religion. Firestone (1970) in her work expressed the mostprofound insight of Radical feminism when she said that distinction based on genderstructures are present virtually in every aspect of our lives and indeed are so pervasivethat ordinarily they go quite unrecognized. Radical feminists believe that womenoppression will no longer exist, not because its biological determinants are overcome, butonly when the structures that maintain this oppression are terminated by a FeministRevolution. For this revolution to take place, a new society has to be constructed that willfree women from childbearing; and other sexual obligations. They want to create alternative structures in all areas of life - Family, ReligionWomen-Run Business and Healthcare. They believe this will enable women, in the shortrun to develop their skills to fight their oppressors. In the absence of their oppressors‗men‘, this tantamount to some form of gender-based organizational separatism. Even though many Feminists agree that men as a group oppress women in allareas of life, majority of Feminists reject organizational separatism as a way of life. Thenotion of separatism has attracted considerable amount of male hostility in manycountries. The ideas of Radical Feminism are also said to be descriptive rather thananalytic and are unable to explain the origin of male power and therefore unable toprovide adequate strategy for ending it. Some see it as based on a false idea of ―man asthe enemy‖ that leads logically only to separatism that has less appeal to many women. 25
  26. 26. 1.8.2 Socialist Feminism Socialist feminism is a branch of feminism that focuses upon both the public andprivate spheres of a womans life and argues that liberation can only be achieved byworking to end both the economic and cultural sources of womens oppression. Socialistfeminism is a two-pronged theory that broadens Marxist feminisms argument for the roleof capitalism in the oppression of women and radical feminisms theory of the role ofgender and the patriarchy. Socialist feminists reject radical feminism‘s main claim thatpatriarchy the only or primary source of oppression of women. Rather, socialist feministsassert that women are unable to be free due to their financial dependence on males insociety. Women are subjects to the male rulers in capitalism due to an uneven balance inwealth. They see economic dependence as the driving force of women‘s subjugation tomen. Further, socialist feminists see women‘s liberation as a necessary part of largerquest for social, economic and political justice. Socialist feminism draws upon manyconcepts found in Marxism; such as a historical materialist point of view, which meansthat they relate their ideas to the material and historical conditions of people‘s lives.Socialist feminists thus consider how the sexism and gendered division of labor of eachhistorical era is determined by the economic system of the time. Those conditions arelargely expressed through capitalist and patriarchal relations. The exponent of socialist feminism was the Chicago Womens Liberation Union intheir publication "Socialist Feminism, in 1972: A Strategy for the Womens Movement,"which is believed to be the first to use the term "socialist feminism," in publication. It hasits roots in Marxist Political and Economic Thought and its basic tenet is that the classsystem in society is essentially responsible for the oppression of women (Mitchell, 1971).Historically, women did not occupy an inferior place in the society until when theprimitive-communal society broke down into classes and the introduction of privateproperty and the family. The function of the woman, since then has been essentially thatof breeding children while being the private possession of her husband. Socialists say thatin the Capitalist Economy, women suffer double oppression, in the work place, as anexploited worker, and in the family as a subordinated person with little status. Theybelieve that a socialist revolution is required to end women oppression, implying that the 26
  27. 27. very structures that nourish oppression such as private property and class division mustcompletely be abolished. Women must continue to fight not only for free and equal entry into theproductive sector of the society, but for the socialization of housework, that houseworkmust not remain the responsibility of the women alone. Women should struggle for equalpay for work, equal opportunity in education and employment, free abortion on demand,and free community-controlled child-care centers. They also believe in practicingalternatives in their lives through communal living, egalitarian marriages, all-womenhouseholds and the rest (Rubin, 1975) etc. Thus, women must sustain their struggle forliberation alongside men who suffer equal forms of oppression like them. Finally,Socialist Feminists expect their society to be politically and economically democraticwhere the means of production would be collectively owned, output of production will beequitably distributed. Sex and race will no longer play any role in the determination of anindividual‘s status in society and the oppression of the bourgeois family will cease toexist. Although Socialist Feminism makes an explicit commitment to the abolition ofboth class and gender it does not say how the abolition can be achieved outside aSocialist framework. Furthermore, with the collapse of the former Union of SovietSocialist Republics (USSR) there is no guaranteed route to the overthrow of maledominance and Capitalism.1.8.3 Liberal Feminism The theoretical framework that we have adopted in this study is Liberal Feminism.Mary Wollstonecraft is a founding mother of feminism in her most famous work, AVindication of the Rights of Woman (1792). Some of the torchbearers of liberal feminismwere Betty Friedan, Gloria Steinem, Harriet Tubman, John Stuart Mill, Harriet Taylorand Eleanor Roosevelt. Liberal Feminism is a syncretism of two major ideas: Liberalismand Feminism. The basic tenets of Liberal feminism are equality, justice, freedom andliberty. These values are not fundamentally different from the values of Liberalism;rather Liberal Feminism goes a step further to use a pro-active approach. The pro-activeapproach of Liberal Feminism ensures that these values of Liberalism are actuallyenthroned and defended in contemporary society regardless of sex and within both thepublic and private spheres. 27
  28. 28. Liberalism generically prefers to judge the extent of social justice from theperspective of the individual rather than the society. This is largely determined by theextent of freedom allowed the individual in order to demonstrate his particular virtuesand capabilities. Liberalism in general terms believes in and makes for a good society.Bryson (1972) asserts that Liberalism sees a good society as one which promotes thebasic values of individual dignity, equality, autonomy and self-fulfillment. It accepts theideal of creating a society which maximizes the individual autonomy and in which allindividuals have an equal opportunity to pursue their own interests as they perceive them.It recognizes the worth and dignity of every individual, justice and liberty which areupheld by the associated legal system and ascribes rights to persons on the basis of theircapacity to reason. Earlier Political theorists like Voltaire, Montesquieu, Hume, Kant,Hegel and Rousseau among others doubted that women were fully rational (Rendal,1985; Schapiro, 1978). They saw women as essentially creatures of emotion and passionthat have an important role to play as wives and mothers but biologically unsuited for thepublic sphere. Others examined the relationship in the family and to some extent fell back onarguments of social convenience and men‘s superior strength to justify the continuedsubordination of women. While they saw men as independent and rational individualscapable of perceiving and pursuing their own self-interest, men were seen as weakcreatures, unable to reason, and must be bound tightly to the family and therefore had nopolitical rights. In real terms, liberal rationality condones discrimination by reason. Thisis a serious shortcoming because man is a social being and is made up not only by theintellectual aspects of his being, but also important are his physical, emotional andspiritual aspects. Moreover, the ingredients for reasoning are socially determined andwomen already sequestrated to the domestic sphere cannot be expected to displayreasoning prowess in the public sphere. Consequently, liberalism in its generic form isincapable of supporting our analytical lasers especially as it pertains to this research onwomen discrimination and empowerment. Feminism on its part is commonly used to refer to all ideas which seek grounds nomatter how, to end women‘s subordination. Early Feminists seriously challenged theliberal ideas on reason as a preserve for men. They tried to prove that women were as 28
  29. 29. capable of reason as men. Wollstonecraft (1672) in Korsmeyer (1973) in ―A Vindicationof the Rights of Women‖ argued forcefully that women had the potential for fullrationality and so were as capable as men of complete moral responsibility. The fact thatwomen did not always realize this potentiality was due to the fact that they were deprivedof education and confined to the domestic sphere. In his, ―On the Subjection of Women‖,Mill (1970) emphasized the same point that if women‘s intellectual attainment wereinferior to those of men, the most likely explanation was that women had been affordedless opportunity to develop their minds. Liberalism per se treats women as part and parcel of citizens of a particularcountry and there is no special attention to the unique rights of women, in other words,sex is not a significant factor in liberal theory. However, it is a fact that in the largersociety there is not one block of citizens, there are certain forms of discrimination basedon religion, race and sex amongst others. Consequently, Liberal Feminists arguepointedly for the recognition of the status, rights and privileges of women who by thevery fact of their gender are exposed to inherent discriminatory practices in the society. The over-bearing index in this matter is that women are confined to the privatesphere. In this private sphere, they are looked upon as accessories to men in the publicsphere. Thus they are not exposed to the cross currents of leadership, education,employment, entrepreneurship and even religion. This non-exposure of women to thepublic sphere is looked upon superficially as being protective of women-the weaker sex.But under the guise of this protectionism, is a total disregard of the rights and feelings ofwomen as an important segment of society. This has placed women in disadvantage whenseeking for any position of relevance in the public sphere. Consequently there is a cleartilt in the balance on the scale of rights, privileges, hopes and aspirations in favour ofmen. Observing this disadvantage women are immersed in, Liberal Feminists adopt aproactive approach to ensure that the liberal principles are actually enthroned anddefended in contemporary society regardless of sex and within both the public andprivate spheres. Despite the availability of a liberal legal system and its entrenchment ofliberal values in National Constitutions, Liberal Feminists like Jagger argue thatprovisions by law do not automatically confer on women equal status with men. They 29
  30. 30. believe that there exists a lot of discrimination against women which are not mandated bythe legal system but are rather informed or based on custom. This starts from the nursery,where male and female infants are perceived and handled differently, and continues in theeducational system, where boys are encouraged to train for prestigious or well-payingoccupations while girls are channeled into preparing for the lower-paying occupations.The above conditions cause women to be relegated to specific kinds of work that aremenial and degrading. Women also suffer discrimination in obtaining credit to buy ahouse or to start a business. They may have more difficulty than men in rentingaccommodation. Liberal Feminists view all these sorts of discrimination as unjust because theydeprive women of equal opportunities for pursuing their own self-interest as they defineit. Consequently, women are paid so little that they figure disproportionately among thepoor and poverty makes it difficult for them to exercise their formal legal right. Since―the worth of liberty is less for poor people,‘ (Rawls, 1971: 204). Liberal Feministscomplain that poverty makes most women unequal to most men. Mill also supports thisview, stating that ‗the power of earning is essential to the dignity of a woman, if she hasindependent property‖ Betty Friedan (1974: 370) adds: For women to have full identity and freedom, they must have economic independence.... Equality and human dignity are not possible for women if they are not able to earn…only economic independence can free a woman to marry for love, not for status or financial support, or to leave a loveless, intolerable, humiliating marriage, or to eat, dress, rest and move if she plans to marry.Consequently, Liberal Feminists are inspired to identify their rights, discriminatorypractices and actively seek ways to regain those where they are lost, hold the rights, enjoythem, defend them and equally ensure a future of equal rights (Awe, 1992). They are to combat discrimination against women and occasion womenempowerment through the instrumentality of ―affirmative action or reversediscrimination‖. This to them, will no doubt enable women to catch up with men (Gross,1977; Cohen, Nagel and Scanlon, 1976). 30
  31. 31. This is a problem however because men would naturally resist efforts by womento achieve political equality. But this problem is surmountable for we have seen manyconcessions made to women in Europe, United States and even in some parts of Africawhere reforms in family, employment and educational provisions as well as for suffragehave gradually been met even though the citadels of power are jealously guarded by men(Lovenduski, 1986; Iweriebo 1992). The United Nations has been at the forefront of theseachievements for women the world over. In sum, the ultimate goal of Liberal Feminism is to incorporate women fully intothe mainstream of contemporary society. They seek to eliminate sex-biaseddiscrimination in all areas of life and to guarantee women equal opportunities with mento define and pursue their interests. These are also the tenets of CEDAW, to ultimatelypromote issues of concern to women. The values of Liberal Feminism being in line withthe ideals of CEDAW bring women into focus through legal reforms to ensure equalopportunities for women. CEDAW is against laws that subordinate women in variouscountries. The Convention therefore prohibits discrimination against women and arguesfor women‘s eligibility and equal opportunity in employment, credit, training, andeducation amongst others. The foregoing is clearly why liberal feminism has been chosenas our theoretical framework in this work. Liberal Feminism it is, that is capable ofconstructively using the high points of Liberalism and Feminism, yet transcending thelimitations of both in analysis and social action to eliminate discrimination againstwomen and of necessity engenders women empowerment.1.9 Research Methodology This deal with the methods employed in our study and highlights our researchdesign, samples, research tools, data collection techniques and the method of dataanalysis discussed below.Research Design The research design used for this study is survey design. This design was used soas to capture the entire domain of the study.Area of Study The South-South zone, our focus of study comprises of the states of Akwa-Ibom,Bayelsa, Cross River, Delta, Edo and Rivers. These states came under one umbrella in 31
  32. 32. 1994 at the end of constitutional conference set up by late Sani Abacha government todiscuss among other issues; the annulment of the June 12 presidential elections whichwas said to have been won by the late M.K.O Abiola, marginalization of minority groups,revenue allocations, power sharing procedure for the restoration of positions and politicalappointments in the country (Ndoh, 1977). The area was chosen for the reason ofconvenience in terms of time and finance at the disposal of the researcher. The South-South zone is geographically located in the Niger Delta region ofNigeria. The Niger Delta, the Delta of the Niger River is described as one of the world‘slargest wetlands and Africa‘s largest delta covering over 70,000 square kilometers withnearly three quarters of the region covered by water and has the third largest worldmangrove forest (World Bank Report, 1995). The ethnic groups in the region include theItshekiri, Ilaje, Urhobo, Isoko, Ibibio, Annang, Efik, Ijaw, Ogoni, Ekpeye, Ikwerre etc(Alagoa, 1972). The primary occupations of the people are fishing, farming, trading saltmaking, canoe carving etc. According to Willinks Commission Report (1957), the region lies within the Igbo,plateau and Cross River valley, a geographical entity which covers the present Akwa-Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross River, Delta, Edo and Rivers States, also known as the core NigerDelta said to cover the former British Colonial divisions of Ahoada, Brass, Degema,Opobo,Ogoni, Western Ijaw and Warri (Okaba, 2005). The widespread view in thecountry however equates the Niger Delta region to the South-South geopolitical zonemade up of six States. By adopting the NDDC Act of 2001, the area has recently beenexpanded to include all oil producing States in Nigeria such as Abia, Imo and Ondo.Population of Study The target population of the study is made up of the 6,700 officials of governmentand non-governmental organizations involved in women rights issues in the six states thatmake up the zone. The government and non-governmental organizations include theMinistry of Women Affairs (MWA), Ministry of Sports, Youth and Culture (MSYC),Ministry of Social Development and Tourism (MSDT), Ministry of Health, Ministry ofJustice, Market Women Organizations (MWOs), Community Based WomenOrganizations (CBWOs), International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA), NigeriaAssociation Of Women Journalists (NAWOJ), and Women In Nigeria (WIN). 32
  33. 33. We however, need to strike a balance between the need to cover as many officialsas possible and the danger inherent in abandoning the central problems we set out toinvestigate. As Ibeanu (1992) in Agu (2008) noted, this could be a problem to a study ofthis nature. There is always the danger of derailing from the population of study if thepopulation is quite large. To guard against this, we decided to select and administerquestionnaire on 10 percent of the entire population. This is in line with the assertions ofBall and Gall in (Uzoagulu, 1999 cited in Biereenu-Nnabugwu, 2006), that for populationup to 1000, 5000 and 10,000; 20%, 10% and 5% respectively as the requisite sample sizecould be employed. Since the total workforce of the government and non-governmentalorganizations is 6,700 translated quantitatively, are 670 officials. The 670 officialstherefore constitute the sample population size.Sample and Sampling techniques To generate manageable data as well as make meaningful deductions, it isimperative to use a sample of the population. According to Biereenu-Nnabugwu, the ideaand need for sample hinges on the realization that the population is large and that it ispossible to make choice from an array of possibilities. The study adopted the multi-stage sampling method which involves sampling insuccessive stages such that at each stage selection is made using any of the knownprobability sampling methods (Biereenu-Nnabugwu, 2006). This was done to help ussave time and cost. In the first stage, the study adopted the stratified sampling techniqueto get respondents from the ranks and files of the ten government and non-governmentalorganizations involved in women rights issues in the six states that make up the zone.This was to ensure a fair representation of all shades of opinion and interests in the zone.This could have been lost to the chance factor (Obasi, 1999). In using the stratifiedsampling technique, the study further adopted the disproportional stratified samplingtechnique in the sense that the numerical strength of the cadres/ranks was not consideredin the representation into the sample (Biereenu-Nnabugwu, 2006). Thus, in thedistribution, the ten ministries and organizations that make up the government and non-governmental organizations got sixty-seven (67) respectively. Probability sampling, nomatter the demerits, involves a good degree of judgmental decisions in the final analysisunlike in the non-probability sampling where the likelihood or assurance or every 33
  34. 34. member of the target population being included in the sample is not known (Obasi,2000).Sources of Data Collection There were two major sources of data in this study. They are the primary and thesecondary. The primary sources are those which the researcher generated directly throughinvestigation and survey (i.e. instrument administration and interviews), while secondarysources are essentially print and electronic in nature. They include websites, officialreports, books, journals, magazines, newspapers, conference papers and unpublishedresearch materials, as well as both published and unpublished secondary data oforganizations and institutions with bearing on the study.Instruments for Data Collection Data for the research work were collected using structured questionnaire and oralinterview. The additional use of oral interview is to elicit information from illiteraterespondents especially women in rural areas. Consequently, questions were couched around the above areas that actually gavemeaning to women‘s socio-political rights, giving a 10-item structured questionnaire anda 10-item interview schedule. The respondents were requested to either tick on: StronglyAgree (SA), Agree (A), Disagree (D), Strongly Disagree (SD), for each statement andeach respondent was expected to respond with a tick ( ) to each of the statement.Documentary instrument, in-depth interview, and participant observation were alsoinstruments used for data collection.Validity of the instrument Both instruments were properly validated by the research supervisor and otherexperts in the Department of Political Science of Anambra State University, IgbariamCampus. The comments and observations made by these experts were used to improve onthe instrument to ensure their validity.Reliability of the instrument The reliability of our instruments was assured by our consistency in our questionand interview models. In this exercise, the purpose was to know if the questionnairewould be reliable after measuring with an object at different periods of time and receiving 34
  35. 35. the same or similar result. In testing the reliability of the instruments, we employed test-retest technique to determine the reliability of the research instruments. Thus the constructed questionnaire was distributed to a group of ten peopledifferent from the pilot sample group of the sample group of the main study but whichhas the same characteristics with the pilot sample group and the main sample group of thestudy. The researcher then gave each individual element number from one to ten toenable her to identify them. Moreover, the instruments administered to the respondentswere also numbered one to ten. Later, the researcher collected the questionnaire scoredby the respondents. After three days of collection of the scored questionnaire, theresearcher shared the same instrument to the same group as she did in the first place bynumbering the questionnaire one to ten. Thus, number one respondent received the copyof questionnaire marked one. This was done accordingly until number ten respondentwas given number ten copy of the questionnaire. Questionnaire was collected for the second time from the respondents. Theresearcher then compared the first scored questionnaire collected with the second scoredquestionnaire on each of the sample respondent one after the other. This comparison wasrepeated until all the ten-paired instruments were exhausted. On the completion, theresearcher discovered that the responses for the two sets of questionnaire given out have ahigh consistency correlation of 0.72. Therefore, the reliability of the questionnaire had a0.72 Cronbach‘s alpha coefficient. According to Nunnally (1978) a questionnaire with aCronbach alpha coefficient of at least 0.72 should be accepted. Therefore the internalconsistency of the questionnaire used in this study was reliable. We ensured reliability of the instruments by ensuring that the questions we posedin both questionnaire and personal interview are in simple, good, precise andunderstandable form to the respondents. We further ensured reliability through the use of internal consistency methodwhereby cross-checking questions are built into the questionnaire and oral interview. Wealso cross-checked our information against many sources to ensure that facts and figurescollected from various sources earlier stated shall not only be accurate and authentic butwould remain same if the collection is repeated again and again.Methods of Data Analysis 35
  36. 36. Data obtained through observation and interviews were used for the analysis usingsimple percentages. CHAPTER TWOPREAMBLE This chapter gives the documentary analysis of our research question one whichseeks to know if the tenets of UNCEDAW enhance access to education of women in theSouth-South zone of Nigeria.2.1 Access to Education of Women in the South-South Zone of Nigeria Education is a human right and an essential tool for achieving the goals ofequality, development and peace. Kabeer (1999, 19) describes education as an agent ofempowerment. Many scholars believe that it enhances both the economic and socialstatus of women as well as their ability to make positive decisions affecting their livesand those of their families in several ways. Writing about women and education in the Nigerian Context, scholars such asIjere (1991), Uchendu (1993) and Anikpo (1998) observed that women‘s education havefaced several setbacks right from the inception of formal education. According toUchendu, this was a result of the Colonial Government‘s concept of women which wasquite different from normal Nigerian women‘s way of life. This concept had thementality that emphasized women‘s seclusion from public life. The system overprotectedwomen and their capabilities, which made them completely subservient to their husbandsand limited their opportunities. Uchendu notes that this colonial heritage forbade Britishwomen from participating in certain fields of study thereby preventing their publicaffairs. He states further that the idea emanated from the medieval period in Europewhich was supported by the British education setup which trained women only fordomestic services confining them to the home. 36
  37. 37. However, this system was extended to the colonies including the Nigerianeducational system. Consequently, many women were denied education during thisperiod. Those who had the opportunity to be educated, were limited to areas that will givethem the domestic skills to make them better wives and mothers; also to acquire skills forTeaching and Nursing Professions. It is believed that this loss of power was frequentlyassociated with diminished access to land and labour power. At the same time, femalechildren were discriminated against, preference was given to the males who became animportant source of colonial labour supply and were producers of Nigeria‘s cash crops.While the males were trained for jobs in the Industry, Commerce and Civil Service,women were trained for domesticity. Thus the foundations of educational inequalitybetween males and females were laid in Nigeria. This was depicted by Kathleen Staudtthus: Most African women consistently lagged behind in education and thus failed to acquire the skills needed to participate in the modern economy. When they received training, it usually emphasized domestic skills and preparation to become “better wives and mothers”, few women became qualified for wage labour and even fewer for professional positions. Employed women usually performed low- paying, unskilled jobs connected to the domestic areas. Thus as these regulations took force, the status and potential prosperity of men and women increasingly diverged”(Stuadt, 1984: 6, 9). Other factors that militated against the education of the female child at this timeaccording to Alele-Williams (1986) include the socio-cultural beliefs that women whobroke the mould and stepped beyond their traditional domain were seen as women ofeasy virtue. The notion that the educated woman could not make a good wife and homekeeper, which will discourage suitors for the female child, made most parents reluctant inallowing the female child to aspire for higher education. Owing to some changes insociety, this trend was reversed. Educated men now seek equally educated women as lifepartners and are now seen as assets. In recent times, educated men marry educatedwomen who are gainfully employed so as to help cater for the needs of the family.According to Ogundipe (1976), the advent of all boys/all girls‘ schools in the 1960shelped to increase the number of educated females in Nigeria. This trend has continued to 37
  38. 38. the point that in many states, especially those of the former East-Central State of Nigeria,the enrolment of female children in Primary schools has increased to the point ofoutstripping those of the males as observed by the Education Ministries of these states.According to Nwosu (1998), the reason for this trend include the ―larger-than-life‘premium placed on money in the value system of the country, unemployment of, or poorprospects for the educated, poor conditions of service of the few who are employed, thehigh significance commerce has assumed in. a dependent economy and the emergence ofwrong role models in the society. Education therefore has become irrelevant to wealthacquisition. The state of affairs can be attributed to the changes in the value system ofmost people in this part of the country since after the Nigerian Civil War. Although women‘s access to education globally has increased since the Women‘sDecade (1975-1985); UNDP 1995 report indicates of the 960million adults in the world.who cannot read, two-thirds are women. Seventy percent (70%) of the 130miIlonchildren who are not enrolled in school are girls and that the dropout rates are over threetimes greater for girls than boys. The report also shows that in the event of a financialcrisis in the family, the girl child is usually the first to be forced out of school. According to (Ashword 1981; Nwosu 1998), there are some factors if lacking,hamper women‘s empowerment. They are of the opinion that the education and trainingopportunities for women in Nigeria do not automatically improve the position of womenin society or guarantee their equal participation in development because actualempowerment depends on the social order as provided under the auspices of the State.This means that the historical origin of the state must be understood in order to appreciatethe social order and the prospects for women in that order. Thus the state and itsInstitutions which act as mechanism of domination are not different from the men whoare the property owners and ruling class. Therefore the struggle for domination amongthe propertied class leaves no opening for women. It is also clear that inequality in education is a constraint on women‘s progress inboth rural and urban areas. Generally, women who are educated improve their statuswithin the family, community and the nation. As recorded by Gupta (1987) studies inNorthern India as well as elsewhere in the world show that education enhances women‘sautonomy and increases their effectiveness even in their traditional roles which are 38
  39. 39. assigned to them in their homes. In support of the above stance, (Kinder-Vatter, 1979)also recognized that in recent decades, non-formal education has been recommended as aprocess that is capable of bringing social changes, especially redistribution of power andreversal of gender equity. Since most rural women do not have access to formaleducation, non-formal education can be used to extend relevant education to a largepopulation of women to enable them improve their life condition.2.2 Results from Interviews and Documentary EvidenceEducation and Women Right from the Colonial days, attendance in schools was the preserve of boys.Only later were girls permitted to attend and that initial advantage has given the males anundeniable position of leadership in decision-making and governance. In the Third Worldmany more boys than girls are enrolled in schools in spite of government‘s effort in thelast two decades to improve the situation. Nigeria was rated as one of the nine countrieswith the highest number of illiterate population in the world. Women constitute the largerpercentage of the illiterate community. The National Demographic and Health Surveystated that 40% of Nigerians have never attended school. Article 10 of CEDAW invites state parties to take all appropriate measures toeliminate discrimination against women in order to ensure their equal rights with men inthe field of education. Although there are no clear legal measures to ensure equal accessto education for men and women, Section 18 of the 1999 constitution provides for equaleducational opportunities at all levels for every citizen. It provides for the free,compulsory and universal primary education free secondary education, free universityeducation and free adult literacy programmes. The constitutional provision shows thatbasic education is non-discriminatory but has no justifiable backing for any male orfemale that is denied. In line with the constitution and to encourage the girl child‘s education, somestates in the North, for example, Borno, Gombe, Kano and Bauchi have passed laws onretention of girls in school and prohibition of withdrawal of the girl child from school formarriage. The National Policy on Women provides that women require basic education toenjoy the full benefits of contemporary living and to contribute meaningfully to the 39