United Nations And The Challenges Of Promoting Gender Equality

Project and Seminar Material for International Relations

United Nations And The Challenges Of Promoting Gender Equality


Abstract


The United Nations has the responsibility to ensure that all its actions promote and protect gender equality and women‘s empowerment. UN efforts to help establish the rule of law for all on the basis of equality are essential to this end. Advancing gender equality and empowering women are widely recognized as ends in themselves as well as means to achieve the UN goals ofsustainable peace and security, humanrights protection, and sustainable economicand social development. This study was undertaken to examine the challenges of Promoting Gender Equality.


Table Of Content


Preliminary Page(s)

  • Title page i
  • Certification page ii
  • Dedication iii
  • Acknowledgement iv
  • Abstract v
  • Table of content

Chapter One

Introduction

  • 1.1 Background of the Study
  • 1.2 Statement of Research Problem
  • 1.3 Aims and Objectives of Research
  • 1.4 Significance / Justification of Study
  • 1.5 Theoretical Framework
  • 1.6 Research Methodology
  • 1.7 Method Of Data Analysis
  • 1.8 Scope and Limitation Of The Study

Chapter Two

Legal, Policy And Institutional Framework

  • 2.1 Institutional/ Laws And Treaties
  • 2.2 Regional Instruments

Chapter Three

Nigeria And Gender Issues

  • 3.1 Introduction
  • 3.2 Development of Feminism and Women Organisations
  • 3.3 Women’s Empowerment and National Integration
  • 3.4 Women’s Participation in Political Process in Nigeria

Chapter Four

Gender Equality In Nigeria

  • 4.1 Issues Of Discrimination Against Women In Nigeria
  • 4.2 Issues ofViolence and Abuses Against Women In Nigeria
  • 4.3 Some types of Violence and Abuses.

Chapter Five

United Nations’ Challenges In Promoting Gender Equality

  • 5.1 UN and Women Issues in Nigeria
  • 5.2 Challenges of the UN on Women Rights in Nigeria

Chapter Six

Conclusion

  • 6.1 Summary
  • 6.2 Conclusion
  • 6.3 Recommendation
  • References

Chapter One


Introduction

How is the relative status of women and men related to economic growth and development? In many parts of the world, women have few resources or rights and little opportunity to improve their lives. They are restricted in terms of education, ownership of property, monetary return for their work, financial opportunities, and opportunities to influence decision-making at the level of the family and society. Country by country, the lack of resources and opportunities open to women is strongly associated with society-wide poverty or lack of development. Charles Humana (1992), for example, reports that almost all of the countries ranked in the top quintile of wealth provide social and economic equality to women; none of those in the poorest quintile do.

This paper reviews the economic literature that touches the role of gender in the economy, with specific focus on issues and challenge that might be expected to be the most critical for overall development in Nigeria.

We define what gender equality means; present stylized facts about the current relative status of women and men; and touch on the methodological difficulties encountered in studying this topic. We then present the issues and analyses from studies concerning gender equality and the status of women in both the developed and the less developed worlds. There is wide range in women’s status across countries, just as there is a wide range of differences in the level of economic welfare. In some cases the research allows a look at how a country’s economic development over time is associated with changes in the role of her women.

Economic studies of this issue are found in the fields of labor economics, family economics, growth and development economics and political economics. The latter portion of this paper presents explanatory models, and reviews literature on factors that challenge or facilitate gender equality.


1.1 Background Of The Study

The issue of gender inequality in Nigeria in particular and Africa in general has been debated since the introduction of western formal education during the colonial period. Starting from the late 1950s and early 1960s when many African countries acquired their political independence, this date has taken a new dimension in local as well as international fora.

What role do women’s class and gender status play in national development: that question and many others were examined at recent seminar and meeting organized specially to address the issue of gender imbalance in access to polities and education in Nigeria. There were two major conferences in March, 1990. The Jointien conference on education for all, sponsored by several international organizations including the world Bank, UNESCO, etc, and the Mexico world congress on planning and management of educational development also organized by UNESCO.

In Africa, the sixth Regional conference sponsored by UNESCO, with the co-operation of the organization of Africa unity (O.A.U), and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, was held in July, 1991 in Dakar. The problem of uplifting the burden of women, for national development received attention at a recent seminar on women and demographic change in Dakar, Senegal in March, 1993.

The seminar was organized by the international union for the scientific study of population (IUSSP) and brought together more than 60 experts from Africa and elsewhere , from the discussions, a consensus was reached that women’s class and gender status have been neglected by both demographers and policy makers interested in population change and that the first step toward getting women’s issues of the agenda of the population and development sector is to improve understanding on how women’s position in society varies across Africa and shapes demographic outcomes. (Emezi, C.E and Ndoh, C.A 1998:181)


1.2 Statement Of Research Problem

The research examined and analyzes the effect of United Nations and the challenges of promoting gender equality in Nigeria.


1.3 Aims And Objectives Of Research

The research is aimed at achieving the following objectives:

  1. To assess the factors that affects gender inequality.
  2. To examine the influence of United Nations and the challenges of promoting gender equality in Nigeria.
  3. To proffer solutions woman’s empowerment and strengthening development.

1.4 Significance / Justification Of Study

Economists have long tried to understand why some countries are poor and some rich, and why some develop and grow while others remain stagnant. As research has moved from Solow’s growth theories to endogenous growth, we are still unable to explain the huge difference in GDP per capital that exists among countries. Explanations that developed countries have greater technological

progress, a higher rate of investment and saving, better education, skill levels and infrastructure leave unanswered the question of where these differences come from (see Weil, 2005). Macroeconomics theories have influenced the World Bank and the IMF policies over the decades as these institutions attempted to help developing countries towards economic growth and development. Easterly (2001) recounts the history of attempted solutions that have repeatedly turned out to be disappointments, a situation he explains as the result of a lack of attention to the incentives that people face in their environments. The literature and its prominent authors are currently moving towards explaining the growth discrepancy between the poor and the rich nations with factors like social infrastructure (Hall and Jones, 1999), values (Guiso et al., 2002), trust (Knack and Keefer, 1997), religion (Barro, 2002;

Dollar and Gatti, 1999) or other aspects of the culture (Weil, 2005). These new explanations will increasingly require a better understanding of the roles, status and behavior of a heretofore largely ignored half of the population – women.

These new efforts sometimes involve expanding our understanding of what is meant by the concept of development itself. Most prominently, Noble-laureate Amartya Sen (1999) argues that increasing GDP by itself should not be the ultimate goal of efforts to help poor countries. Rather, what aid should hope to maximize are the freedoms associated with wealth: freedom to exchange goods and labor, freedom to make choices and influence one’s life, freedom to live longer, freedom to get an education. He suggest that restrictions on an individual’s right to own property, save, borrow, become educated, make labor contracts or to control the products of one’s own labor would qualify as disincentives to growth, while freedom to exercise these activities would be associated with economic growth. Given that roughly half of the population of any country is female, it is reasonable to postulate that a society’s failure to provide such freedoms or resources to them would be reflected in failures at the macroeconomics level as well.

Although the literature exploring such a relationship between the freedoms accorded women and development is still small, interest in this area is growing. Those in grass root development work generally acknowledge the importance of the status of women in development, believing that these restrictions on freedoms are directly counterproductive for development. The United Nations Millennium Development Goals, for example, include gender issues among the top priorities. United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and the World Bank have also done extensive research on gender and development.

Generally speaking, however, much of the work in economics has little theoretical interest in women’s welfare per se. Standard economic theories such as those in public choice or welfare economics do not focus on individual characteristics; the individual actor in welfare economics could equally well be a world citizen, a country national, a man or a woman. However, empirical work requires that gender be controlled for, as women’s behavior differs from that of men to such an extent that a single explanatory model is not applicable. An example of this will be seen in the empirical growth studies by Robert Barro.

Those writing in the feminist economics tradition challenge the general invisibility of gender in economic studies and urge that it be considered in order to avoid further biased results (Ferber and Nelson 2003). Emphasizing efficiency at the cost of equity, economists shy away from interpersonal utility comparisons. Yet, if the welfare of women is important, we need to identify the separate constraints on women in order to assess how lifting them affects economic choice and development.

We need to be aware of cultural issues such as gender restrictions (on both sexes), and changes in them, when analyzing the effect of gender-related issues on development. Blank and Reimers (2003) point out that the standard economic method of focusing on choices under given tastes and constraints tends to simply accept the status quo concerning cultural issues as permanent and unchanging. This raises concern given the large changes in gender roles over the past hundred years.

Psychology, sociology, and anthropology give insights on how such tastes and desires are formed.

However, the economists tend to be relatively uninformed on the results of other social sciences. Some of the newer fields in economics, such as behavioral economics, take these challenges more seriously. Another example of rising awareness of the need to consider changing social norms and culture is a recent book on economic growth by David Weil (2005), which places considerable emphasis on culture and values.


1.5 Theoretical Framework

Gender equality (and women’s empowerment) has become one of the central themes in global treaties, covenants and declarations principally due to the understanding that it is a catalyst to clear-cut development strategies which is targeted at poverty reduction, improved living standards, good governance and profitably productive investments that are critical to the creation of an enlarged capacity that provide men and women equal opportunity and unrestrained access to decision-making and policy implementation institutions and processes.

Essentially too, African countries have demonstrated some measure of concern about human development problems by initiating specific developmental goals and strategies and accepting the critical role of gender equality or parity in the developmental process. The African Charter on Human and People’s Rights (ACHPR) adopted in 1981; the Women Right Protocol of 2003; the ECOWAS Protocol on Democracy and Good Governance and the New Partnership for African Development (NEPAD) adopted in 2001 are some of the initiatives that are linked with the Millennium Development Goals and at the same time, a testimony to commendable response in the African continent.

Historically, women have comparatively been subjected to marginalization, oppression and injustice both in public and private life. Although the Millennium Declaration underscored the importance of eliminating all forms and shades of discrimination, exploitation, social harassment and gender bias as well as all situations that encourage the infringement of the rights of women through government policies and decisions, traditional and customary practices, cultural prejudices and religious extremism, a lot more commitment and a pragmatic approach that will translate into concrete actions are desirable around the globe, particularly in Africa. Parity between boys and girls in primary school enrolment has, for instance, been achieved in most regions of the world, except sub-Saharan Africa and Southern Asia. Gender disparity in tertiary education is also still tilted in favour of men in Africa and women access to paid employment that is secured in the light of income and social importance is still very low when juxtaposed with that of men in all sectors including agriculture. However, women’s access to political decision-making, especially in terms of their share of seats in the parliament has gradually and steadily increased globally.

Today, it is instructive to note that due to the realization of the gap created by the marginalization and social injustice against women and the missing link in the developmental agenda by the limited access to existing opportunities in virtually all sectors of the socio-political and economic setting, women are gradually coming into public fore. A plausible explanation for this trend and development is the thinking that one of the indicators of the progress and development of any nation is the position of women in that society (Akpoveta, 2008:191; Thompson and Hickey 2012). It therefore follows that women are seen to represent a tool for positive change, an end that depends on the level of access to the opportunity for actualizing their potentials and talents.


1.6 Research Methodology

The research adopted the secondary source of data. These include textbooks, Journals, Magazines, Academic papers, internet and other scholarly materials on the problem of study. This information was obtained from the University main library and other libraries outside the University.


1.7 Method Of Data Analysis

The mode of data analysis was qualitative which is largely descriptive and analytical. Descriptive analysis is an interpretative analysis based on data collection. As regards data analysis, a combination of simple descriptive – analytical and deductive methods was mainly employed. Inferences were drawn from writings and commentaries of other scholars. The method however was premised on the realist theory.

Data were largely sourced through secondary source including textbook, journals, magazines, academic papers, internet and other scholarly materials on the problem of study.


1.8 Scope And Limitation Of The Study

The research covered United Nations and the challenges of promoting gender equality in Nigeria. Principally, the study encountered two constraints; they include the paucity of literate and problems of data collection. The obvious dearth of scholarly wirings on the subject matter imposed certain limitations on the conduct of this study.

These impediments notwithstanding, we are able to make do with what were readily available and accessible, and we ensured optimal systematization of analyse for the interest of objectivity. Thus the work was accomplished within the best possible standards.


Chapter Six


Conclusion

6.1 Summary

The issue of gender equality is paramount to Nigeria as a third world country due tothefact that women are seen as a weaker vessel and being deprived of certain rights. This called for the attention of the United Nations and its efforts in curbing the menace of gender equality. The work went on to discuss on the various violence and abuses that are faced which includes domestic violence; this is violence within the home. It is carried out mostly by male members of the family i.e. the husband and his relatives, against women and children. These acts include marital rape, beating, verbal abuse; incest; FGM (female genital mutilation); forced marriage and child marriage; femicide; not being allowed their rights (women) (e.g. to choose a husband, or to choose the number of children they wish to have); denial of food even during pregnancy as culture forbids it. Emotional and Psychological Abuse are acts of violence that is not necessarily physical. They are acts that cannot normally be seen. These include all forms of cruelty, e.g. denigrating a woman by treating her as if she were a child, by ignoring her, by refusing to give her any affection or sexual satisfaction.Sexual Harassment is an act of violence that usually takes place in the workplace. It may also be in a public or private place – the streets, at parties, in schools. It happens to domestic workers, office workers etc. Rape is defined as any form of sexual intercourse without free mutual consent between those involved. Sexual intercourse that involves force, threat, blackmail, deceit or coercion in which women are always at the receiving end. There is one thing that is universal which is acts of violence against women! Muslim, Christian and Animist men are into this privately, even within the household, aswell as publicly. The UN as an international organization is faced with various challenges such as the lack of Nigerian women to proper and sound education, lack of sensitization by Nigeria government on issues relating to women as well as the indoctrination of cultural beliefs. An example of external challenges mainly governmental policies and laws towards women on the other hand. Gender is a fundamental element of conflict and of peace .Gender analysis has helped in playing important role in understanding successful peace building which helps to illuminate and contributes to knowledge and skills in maintaining peace rather than violence or conflicts. Each of the global conferences recognized the powerful role of women in sustainable development as well as protecting the environment; the human rights of women as an inalienable, integral and indivisible part of universal human rights; as well as the violence against women as an intolerable violation of human rights. The UN Women supports UN Member States as they set global standards for achieving gender equality, and works with governments and civil society to design laws, policies and programmes United Nations programme which began on January 1, 1976, the goal of which was meant for the promotion of equal rights and opportunities for women around the world brought into existence policies and programmes to curb as well as eradicate the gender inequality issues in Nigeria and as well as other countries.


6.2 Conclusion

The issue of gender equality is a problem that Nigeria as a third world country coupled with various beliefs, traditions and so on, is facing. The struggle for women liberalization was not peculiar to Nigeria alone. It was there at some time or the other in other parts of Africa and even Asia or Europe or America. At some time, it was as if the understanding that women were inferior to men gained currency and it was only after the passage of time with some women breaking new grounds in various fields of endeavour and even sometimes, doing better than men in education, science, politics, etc. When the opportunity arises, men began to acknowledge them and they themselves began to gain some self-esteem and become assertive. Today, women are not only voting but they are getting elected as councilors, chairmen and deputies of local government area councils, legislators at the state and federal assemblies, as well as deputy governors in Nigeria. In some countries of the world, women have become elected Governors and even Presidents or Prime Ministers. It may be considered as a token, at present, but a long road has been travelled and there is still much more distance to cover. And it is good that we appreciate the enormity of efforts women have been making in this regard in order to realize some truths. The truth of history is that no one just gives you your place in society by simple fiat. The fact is that you have to demand it and keep demanding it and insist on your own grounds until you get it. A lot of efforts would go into it as well as resources. Sometimes, lives are even lost in such struggle. Power is never conceded on a platter of gold. You struggle and tussle for power. If you want peace, work for justice. Sometimes, if you want peace, you have to prepare to endure a lot of trouble. This was the fact in climes like America of yore where there was discrimination on account of race. This was the fact with regards to the era of slave trade. This was the fact in colonial times when Africa and some countries of Asia hungered for independence. Even the fall of apartheid in South Africa did not come without a lot of struggle. This is also the fact today with regards to gender issues in Nigeria. Women, in tandem with men of goodwill, must keep up the struggle for a Nigeria where everyone is respected and treated with equity and fairness. Equally important is the fact that women rather than expecting men to concede quotas to them or be paternalistic with regards to issues that concern them, they should go inwards to see how they can mobilize themselves for functional education, empowerment and advocacy. More than that, they should eschew being the architects of their own downfall in working against themselves. They can rally round to support one another for elective or appointive positions but they must also be protagonists of issues that directly affect them as well as endangered species of humanity like children, including the unborn, also unemployed youths, the handicapped, and the aged. All these become necessary because women, by nature, are virtuous and care givers. Women’s ability to courageously harness the human capital resource in the undisputed large numbers of women and specifically, gender activists and male gender champions provides them with space and resident technical support to organize and sustain momentum for accession to political leadership.

Work towards barriers that hinder women‘s political participation such as patriarchy, violence, money, cultural barriers, and religious barrier. It has been shown that wherever women are empowered, there is acceleration of development. Countries that are on top of the human development index (the Scandinavian countries) are those that give premium to women issues. There is therefore the need for gender sensitive laws, budget and empowerment of women through training, economic empowerment, political support and affirmative action. Some of the UN activities include the following; increasing women’s leadership and participation; ending violence against women; engaging women in all aspects of peace and security processes and so on. Finally, there is the need to end violence, prosecute perpetrators, review the federal character principle to include gender equity. Women should participate in politics to make a difference.


6.3 Recommendations

There should be proper increment in women‘s leadership and participation in every sector both at the public and private sectors in terms of political roles and so on. All efforts should be made in a bid to put a stop to all forms of violence against women such as placing watchdogs in officers ,as well as in the environment and people involved should be ready to speak out. The introduction of peace by the UN Secretary-General Boutros BoutrosGhali in an agenda for peace, engaging women in all aspects of peace and security processes helps in the promotion of positive peace due to the fact that there is no single country that is free from violence against women which affects women globally.

There should be appropriate implementation of programmes that target the eradication of violence against women and girls including effective recourse to gender justice as a matter of urgency. To a good degree, there should be increase in the budget allocation of the Federal Ministry of Women Affairs to effectively finance its gender equality programme. There should also be an institutionalization of gender through gender mainstreaming strategies in all the federal ministries and at all levels of governance. The employment of more medical personnel to both the urban and rural areas to encourage and sensitize women on measures to be taken to reduce maternal and child mortality in Nigeria. Finally, there should be immediate moves towards the domestication of CEDAW.


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