Acting Vice-Chancellor of Ambrose Alli University (AAU), Ekpoma, Professor Cordelia Agbebaku, has advocated the enactment of specific laws that will compel governments at all levels to implement the National Gender Policy in order to ensure the protection of women’s rights and gender equality in Nigeria. She noted that the stoppage of all
forms of cultural and traditional
discrimination against women was
key to the realisation of Vision
20:2020, adding that no nation
desirous of achieving meaningful development can afford any shade of
gender imbalance in the management
of its public affairs.
She spoke at a lecture on Women’s
Rights and Gender Equality: A Case of
Universality or Culture Relativism at the 44th inaugural lecture of the
university in Ekpoma.
Agbebaku stressed the need for the
National Assembly to repeal laws that
discriminate against women such as
the laws on inheritance, divorce under customary law and others.
Lamenting poor access to training,
quality education and self-
improvement as the major reason for
women’s lack of empowerment, she
noted that if this is addressed, the country will be a better place.
According to her, women constitute
half of the population in Africa and
their under-representation in social,
political and economic spheres must
be addressed if Africa is to leverage fully on the promise and potential that
it holds, adding that about 30 per cent
of women participate in economic
activities, often in very limited ways.
Agbebaku further stated that
economic empowerment of women is an important issue and should be
taken seriously by families,
communities, organisations and
nations.
“Women must have access to training,
higher education and self- improvement in order to aspire to
higher paying jobs. It is believed that
continuous academic improvement
by women significantly determines
how far they can rise even much
more than their male counterparts,’’ she added.
“Empowering women provides more
choices for women and creates female
role models and mentors in places
where economic opportunities have
historically been limited. I have noted that the elusiveness of attaining
gender equality and protection is not
as a result of a dearth of legislation
geared towards redressing gender
inequality. Indeed, gender equality
continues to be central themes in global treaties, conventions and
declarations.
“In spite of these efforts, gender
discrimination against women still
looms large in Nigeria. By way of
recommendations to stem this tide, I wish to suggest the following: An
effective and efficient enforcement
mechanism to ensure compliance
should be provided for international,
regional and municipal laws
guaranteeing and protecting gender rights. Legislations that discriminate
against women should be expressly
repealed. e.g. laws on inheritance,
divorce under customary law etc.”
Legal awareness programmes should
be institutionalized in order to empower women with increased
knowledge of their rights under
existing laws.
Customs and practices which negate
the human rights of women should be
abolished. Thus, customary and religious laws which engender gender
inequality should be expressly
abolished by legislation.
Women’s rights should be accorded
the status of human rights as they are
universal. Therefore, specific laws must be enacted to ensure their
protection and enforcement.

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