FEMINISTIC ACTIVITIES IN NIGERIA AND THE ROLE OF WOMEN IN THE SOCIETY

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FEMINISTIC ACTIVITIES IN NIGERIA AND THE ROLE OF WOMEN IN THE SOCIETY

ABSTRACT

The history of mankind is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations on the part of man toward woman, having in direct object the establishment of an absolute tyranny over her” Thus begins the Declaration of Sentiment which was adopted by the First Women Rights Convention, Seneca Falls N.Y, July 19 1848. This long essay seeks to examine the history and evolution of feminism as a movement by women aimed at establishing equal rights and legal protection for women. In doing this, the waves of  Feminism would be discussed i.e. the three waves of the history of feminism as espoused by feminist scholars. These waves are classified based on the theme of the campaigns and the period in which they reigned. The different sub movements of feminism will also be examined. Thus Radical feminism, Liberal Feminism, Marxist Feminism and Womanism would be extensively discussed. . This work would look emphatically at Feminism in Nigeria. Its history, how far women have come so far in the fight for equality and the challenges faced by Nigerian women in asserting their rights in the society, family and workplace would be analyzed.  Notable feminists in Nigerian history, their activism and its impact on women right development and present day women and feminist organisations would be appraised. This work would critically examine the state of the Nigerian woman today and make recommendations for the advancement of women rights and Feminism in Nigeria.

 

FEMINISTIC ACTIVITIES IN NIGERIA AND THE ROLE OF WOMEN IN THE SOCIETY

 

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

1.1 BACKGROUND OF STUDY

The history of the world from the woman’s point of view is one filled with the relegation of women to the background while men played active roles and got their names stamped all over the history books. Women have historically been denied access to equal economic, social and political privileges and opportunities and as a result are under-represented in the political, economic and social spheres of history. It is based on this that women all over the world began to raise their voices against patriarchy and inequality.

Over time, women all over the world have struggled continuously with varied forms and levels of discrimination and misogyny. These struggles vary with the geographical location and indeed the time of each struggle. The recognition of historical and global discrimination against women prompted the United Nations Organization (UNO) to declare 1975-1985 as “Decade for Women”. This declaration was to raise global awareness on status of women and to mobilize the world community to eliminate discrimination against women so that women may attain equal economic, social, political and legal status with their male counterparts[1] .

This study is based on the evolution of the fight for women rights and the cause that is ‘Feminism’. In a world comprising of two sexes with one perpetually deemed to be weaker, lower or inferior, the struggle for equality and relevance is a fascinating one that has no doubt yielded impressive results which form the background of this study.

 

1.2 PURPOSE AND OBJECTIVES OF STUDY

The purpose of this study is to properly analyze and spread more light on a concept which has been sorely misinterpreted and largely ignored by educational bodies. Most people don’t understand what feminism stands for, and they don’t realize how important it is. Feminists are seen as man-hating radicals by a society which is largely ignorant of the ideals of feminism and the struggle feminists over time had to go through to achieve the level of equality women of today enjoy.  This study aims to appraise the feminist movement, starting at the very beginning and exploring the growth and progress achieved in the fight for women rights. The study also aims at placing a more thorough look at the history of the feminist movement in Nigeria and the present state of the Nigerian woman thereby gauging the effects of the activism of Nigerian feminists on the present day Nigerian woman. The objective being that at the end of this study, an analysis of what more needs to be done to move us further toward the goal of ultimate equality and a somewhat accurate prediction of what the future holds for women in the globe and in Nigeria especially can be made.

     

1.3 RESEARCH QUESTIONS

In the course of this study, certain questions would be addressed in order to properly evaluate the topic at hand. The questions in focus are;

  • What marked the beginning of the feminist and women’s rights movement?
  • How has the struggle for women rights changed over time?
  • Is there one form of Feminism in our diverse world?
  • What are the differences between western feminism and the feminist movement in Africa and Nigeria especially??
  • How has Feminism affected the Nigerian society?
  • Have the goals of Feminism been achieved?
  • What is the future of Feminism and the Women Rights movement?

 

1.4 METHODOLOGY

My research methodology is basically narrative which is mainly library derived because the work is theoretical. It is based on primary sources of information e.g. International Conventions, Constitutional provisions, legislations and judicial decisions, and secondary sources of information such as text books, research reports, journals, seminar papers and articles which would all be referenced.

 

          1.6 DEFINITION OF TERMS

  • WOMENS RIGHTS

Women’s rights are the rights and entitlements claimed for women and girls of many societies worldwide, and formed the basis to the women’s rights movement in the nineteenth century and feministmovement during the 20th century.[2] Some of these rights include but are not restricted to ; the right to vote, the right to hold public office, the right to equal wage pay, the right to bodily integrity, the right to education etc. While some of these rights have been institutionalised and legitimised in some parts of the world, others have been ignored and cause a major strain on the lives of the affected women. Women’s Rights even when institutionalised have suffered violations through culture and traditional sentiment which result in acts such as

  • Violence in the home; Mostly referred to as domestic violence, this is the violent or aggressive behaviour within the home, typically involving the violent abuse of a spouse or partner.
  • Sexual harassment at school and work: Sexual harassment describes unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favours, or other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature.
  • Rape and defilement: Rape is a type of sexual assault usually involving sexual intercourse or other forms of sexual penetration perpetrated against a person without that person’s consent
  • Female Genital Mutilation (FGM): This is the practice, traditional in some cultures, of partially or totally removing the external genitalia of girls and young women for non-medical reasons.
  • Forced childhood marriages: This is the appalling practice of forcing female children into marriage which exposes them to both sexual and domestic violence from a very young age.

 FEMINISM

The term feminism can be used to describe a political, cultural or economic movement aimed at establishing equal rights and legal protection for women. The Cambridge online dictionary[3] defines it as; “the belief that women should be allowed the same rights,power, and opportunities as men and be treated in the same way, or the set of activitiesintended to achieve this state. Basically the term ‘feminism’ can be used both as a belief and as a movement. As a belief it posits the equality of the sexes economically, politically and socially and as a movement it advocates for the establishments of those beliefs. A person who believes and advocates for these beliefs is called a

‘feminist’. The word ‘feminist’ isn’t restricted to women alone. A feminist is a man or a woman

who says, yes, there’s a problem with gender as it is today and we must fix it, we must do better. All of us, women and men, must do better.

 DISCRIMINATION

In Baker v. California Land Title Co[4] , the word discrimination has been defined as “the effect of statute or established practice which confers particular privileges on a class arbitrarily selected from a large number of persons, all of whom stand in the same relation to the privileges, or a class arbitrarily selected from a large number of persons, all of whom stand in the same relation to the privileges granted and between whom and those not favoured no reasonable distinction can be found. The United Nations stance on discrimination includes the statement: “Discriminatory behaviours take many forms, but they all involve some form of exclusion or rejection.”  Discrimination occurs when a particular class of people are treated differently in an inferior manner than the rest of the people.

 

1.7 SCOPE AND CHAPTER OUTLAY

 The scope of this study covers the women’s rights movement from its inception to its present state with further emphasis placed on Nigeria.  The present introductory chapter reveals the background of study, the methodology, definition of terms and basically a description of the study. Chapter 2 of this work examines the history of Feminism itself and then the various theories which have inspired feminist action and arguments. Chapter 3 focuses on Nigeria. The historical overview of the Nigerian woman would be outlined and after that the present state of the Nigerian woman in light of discriminatory laws and practices would be closely examined. The fourth chapter would look at the contributions of feminists and feminist organisations to women development in Nigeria. This work would be concluded in the fifth chapter with recommendations on the way forward for Nigerian women in the struggle for equality.

[1] International Journal of Economics, Commerce and Management United Kingdom Vol. III, Issue 7, July 2015  Page 752  http://ijecm.co.uk/ ISSN 2348 0386

GENDER DISCRIMINATION AND FEMINISM IN NIGERIA

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Women%27s_rights

[3] Cambridge online Dictionary.

[4] (9th Circuit 1974) 507 F.2d 895

FEMINISTIC ACTIVITIES IN NIGERIA AND THE ROLE OF WOMEN IN THE SOCIETY

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