Law News
Female gender and the law

The issue of gender and the law, particularly the place of the female gender, has lately assumed a lot of significance in public consciousness. Despite Nigeria’s ratification of virtually all international instruments on the protection of gender rights and equality, the country has failed to domesticate most of these instruments thereby slowing down women emancipation in Nigeria. Consequently, there remains gender inequality in Nigerian cultural system, gender discrimination under Nigerian customary laws, gender discrimination under the Sharia law and the entrenchment of gender inequality within the Nigerian legal system generally.

A few examples would suffice. Under section 6 of the Nigerian Criminal Code, there is the legalisation of marital rape. By virtue of section 353 and 360 of the Criminal Code, there is disparity in the punishment applicable in cases of unlawful and indecent assaults based on gender. Under section 55 of the Penal Code there is legalisation of wife chastisement by the husband. Sections 55, 56, 57 of the Labour Act make regulations that prohibit women from undertaking certain jobs in discriminatory circumstances. We may also cite regulations 121 – 127 of the Police Act, certain aspect of Taxation Law, political marginalisation of women, gender inequality in the work place amongst others.

Why empower Women?

Notwithstanding, the empowerment of women in our society is of critical significance. Indeed, we have already moved beyond the phase of empowering women. When we empower women, we are empowering the society itself through its women. We need to empower our economy by strengthening the role of women. We need to advance government services by empowering women. When women occupy leadership positions, the society is empowered. We need to launch developmental projects under the direction of women. We need women to improve our infrastructure, our health and education services, and even our military by relying heavily on women’s roles in these fields. With proper education, some of our women would not fall into the temptation of being used as suicide bombers by terrorists groups.

We need to also strengthen the role of women in other areas so that we come out tops on the continent for gender equality. I wonder how any man could manage his daily work without women.

Of course, one of the greatest contributions that women make to our nation relates to their leadership in creating strong and educated future generations that love their country, and seize challenges that could translate into building the country and strengthening the development process.

Women are the soul and spirit of any country. This is because a woman has strong feelings, a kind heart, a sharp mind, high ambitions and a refreshing perspective. Women are the fabric of our society than many people think. Can any man live without a mother or a sister? Can a house overflow with tenderness without a daughter or a wife? Can a society take any step forward without its better half? These are core realities of life. The reality is that we would never have become what we are today as a country, were it not for the contribution of our loyal, confident and ambitious sisters who are in constant pursuit of excellence and progress, armed with strong will and determination. This is true of every society.

In the words of Mohammed bin Rashid Al Makloum, in his book “Flashes of Thought”:

“There is a saying about rain: it produces abundance whenever it falls. It is our job to provide an enabling environment for women to achieve their highest potential. In other words, we must provide the soil that yields the best harvest from this rain. Our job is to provide an environment that unlocks women’s potential – one that protects their dignity and femininity, helps them create the necessary balance in their lives, and values their talents and potential. Given this environment, I am confident that women will perform nothing short of miracles.”

Moving Forward

In conclusion, we need to ensure equal access of woman and man to critical resources and eliminate all discriminating practices against women; we need to ensure women and men have equal legal and human rights. We need to inculcate human rights education into school curricular at all levels. We need to enhance the capacity of the legislature, judiciary and law enforcement to uphold gender justice and gender equality principles. There is need to ensure gender balance in public life and implement legal framework that guarantees the rights of women.

Above all, we need a change of mindset to accept the reality that we are all part of human race with rights of equal access to opportunities and the good things of life. Women must never be deprived of their humanity.

  • Shittu, a legal practitioner, wrote from Lagos

Click here to read from source.

You must be logged in to post a comment.