The Empowerment of Women And Girls In Sub-Saharan Africa: Evidence Of Gender Equality
For a decade now, the central problem surrounding gender inequality and the rights of females in Sub-Saharan Africa has been a major cause of concern for local and international communities. It is not news that the rights of women and girls are heavily violated in certain parts of Sub-Saharan Africa and their engagement is limited towards development. During the last UN summit on Sustainable Development Goals in New York, World leaders emphasised on the need for them to tackle topical issues pertaining to gender inequality and the promotion of empowering women and girls. Though it is widely defined that gender-based equality refers to a situation where the two genders, both men and women have equal conditions for realizing their full human rights and potentials, and also allowed to contribute equally to national, political, economic, social and cultural development so as to benefit from the results, even though these contributions are sluggishly accepted and adopted in Sub-Saharan Africa. In addition, to tackle this issue from one angle, it will be important for states to underline the causes of discrimination, as well as to identify and remove them in order to give men and women equal opportunities. Nigeria, Niger, Cameroon, Ghana, and other countries situated around the Sub-Saharan African region have done a great deal to review the rights of women and girls in their societies, as well as seeking a new path to follow.
The United Nations, in collaboration with the Federal Republic of Nigeria, have merged their efforts to rid societies of all forms of discrimination, especially gender-based discrimination, which greatly contributes to the reduction of the empowerment of women and girls.
“If there is no equality, equity and freedom, there is no empowerment for women and girls.”
In countries like Nigeria, political openings are negligible for women, with little political involvement. Meanwhile, economically, women constitute the majority of the peasant labour force in the agricultural sector, while most of the others occupy the bottom of the occupational ladder and continue to be channelled into service and domestic occupations (Donnel, 2003).
In most part of the Sub-Saharan African countries, gender inequality and discrimination are promoted and extended by the cultural and traditional systems, especially through the continuous enforcement of customary and sharia laws, which have been put in place in Nigeria. In line with the above evidence, gender discrimination practices include female genital mutilation, forced or child marriage, wife/girl child disinheritance, wife inheritance, as well as payment and refund of bride price. These ills totally and negatively impact and slow down the pace of women’s’ emancipation. In partial debate, the issues surrounding gender equality and women’s empowerment cut across political, social, and economic issues.
Having witnessed the devastating consequences of gender discrimination on women and girls, it is extremely important to combat and end all forms of violation on the female being by urgently reviewing gender discriminatory acts, capitalizing on the economic empowerment of women, compulsory girl-child education, and the enforcement of laws against the trafficking of young girls as domestic servants and prostitutes.
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