For several decades, gender inequality or discrimination continues to manifest in our society in one way or the other. The gap between men and women has become so wide that women and girls are left disadvantaged in almost every aspect of life. Women and girls are being denied their fundamental human rights including access to quality education, access to health care systems, right to earn a living, freedom of speech and so forth, though many of them are ignorant of it. Despite the fact that women make up more than half of the world’s population, they are seen as secondary citizens. This is as a result of factors ranging from religious, cultural, economic and political.
The concept of the girl child is one that brings incidences of sexual abuse and other gender based violence. Women and girls have been treated in the most inhuman ways since the inception of human civilization . This is generally because they are seen as the “weaker vessel”. Women and girls face similar problems such as domestic violence, sexual abuse, early and forced marriages, genital mutilation, girl child homicide, prostitution, child labour, discrimination etc.
While it is true and important to note that women and girls from the northern part of the country are faced with more of this issues than their southern counterpart; rape and incest have become the most common type of violence against women and girls across national and geographical boundaries and it is mostly perpetrated by relatives such as fathers, uncles, husbands, teachers etc. This violent act has resulted in unwanted pregnancies, stigmatisation, forced abortions, forced sterilisation, Vesico-Vaginal Fistula (VVF), HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases.
Even in situations of armed conflict, women and girls are the most hit. They are not spared by the parties to the conflict. They are used as slaves for domestic works such as cooking and cleaning, as sex objects etc. Although, men are also recruited either voluntarily or by force by both the armed force or by the proscribed armed groups to fight at war front; women and children are the most vulnerable. To make matters worse, they are excluded from the peace processes and post conflict reconstructions.
Given their demographic strength, their continuous exclusion therefore remains a threat to achieving sustainable peace . On October, 31st, 2000, the United Nations Security Council adopted resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security. This resolution emphasizes the incorporation of women in the prevention and resolution of conflict, peace negotiations, peace-building, peace-keeping, humanitarian response and in post conflict reconstruction.
Gender mainstreaming has made the involvement of women more visible in peace process and peace-building. A female peace activist in the Philippines, Garcia said
Both men and women have the potential for peace making and the responsibility to build and keep peace. The women however seem more creative and effective in waging peace. It is the women’s emotional strength to transcend pain and suffering and their predisposition to peace that provides them with greater potential for peacemaking.
Although, Nigeria has domesticated the UNSCR 1325 through its National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security, it is important to point out that for any success to be achieved in its implementation, gender mainstreaming should not just focus on women but should also put men into consideration. This is so because until men change their perception of women as “weaker vessels”, gender equality would not be achieved.
Finally, in the words of Gwynne Dyehard who said “we human beings have taken over the planet, we must learn to share it or else we will lose it” . Therefore, men should be ready to share their world. The role of women in every aspect of human societies cannot be underestimated.
Fisho-Orideji, D. 2001. The Girl-Child: Developing the Potentials of Girl-Child; A National Challenge.
Mutunga, E. 2006. Gender and Peace Processes in Africa in S.G. Best Introduction to Peace and Conflict Studies in Africa. Eds. Ibadan: Spectrum Books Limited.
Garcia, E. 1994. Pilgrim Voices: Citizens as Peacemakers: An International Colloquium on Peacemaking. International Alert. Pg.45.
Igube, R. 2004. Gender Security and Advancement: The Case of Inequality and Iinequity. A Paper Presented at the Round Table Discourse by Higher Link Educational Programme, The British Council, Change Managers International, University of Abuja, Abuja on 8th March, 2004.
AJASA MOTUNRAYO OLAYINKA
(Member, Nigerian Youth 4 Peace Initiative)
Contact: email@example.com; +2348054151494