Gender Discrimination and Oppression
Culture influences the behaviors associated with being male or female, and by events around the world come up attention to gender issues (Matsumoto & Juang, 2013). Gender as we know refers to the behaviors that culture deems appropriate for men and women, while gender roles refers to the degree to which a person adopts the gender-specific behaviors ascribed by his or her culture (Matsumoto & Juang, 2013). Gender roles can be defined also as behavioral activities that associated with sexes in a social or interpersonal relationship in a particular cultural, and gender roles are orchestrated and affected by gender equality (Azuh, Egharevba, & Azuh, 2014).
Gender roles from one society to another are significantly varies. All cultures has a different ways to interpret and elaborate the biological differences between men and women into a set of social expectation about what behaviors and activities are appropriate, and what rights, resources and power which are owned to men and women process (Azuh, Egharevba, & Azuh, 2014). People may naturalize the differences between men and women, but the form of the naturalization is culturally viable (Hutson, 2007). By that circumstance, it may lead the social context to form gender discrimination or gender inequality.
Gender discrimination refers to discrimination based on a person’s gender or sex and affects girls and women more often due to they do not have the same opportunities as boys and men for education, careers, political influence and economic advancement (najc.ca, 2015). Gender discrimination also defined as the practice of granting or denying rights or privileges based on their gender (wiseGEEK.org, 2015). Discriminatory behaviors discrimination show of hostility towards some people or group of persons (Azuh, Egharevba, & Azuh, 2014), it is also an unjustified negative or harmful action toward a person solely because of his or her membership in that group (Aronson, Wilson, & Akert, 2013).
The 20th and 21th centuries are the witness of the most consistent global effort to end equalities and discrimination on the basis of differences such as ethnic origin, economic status, sex or gender, political ideology, etc. (Olatunji, 2013). In Africa, gender discrimination may be seen clearly till now. There are many factors that responsible for gender imparity as against the women today, such as; cultural practices, religion, societal norms, conventions, biological make up/ municipal laws and conventions (Abegunde, 2014). Gender discrimination in Africa, are mostly about socio-cultural factors resulting from a patriarchal socio-economic system, there are include ethnic discrimination, failing to provide equality in legal system, education, public institutions, employment, etc. (Olatunji, 2013). Discriminatory practices clearly have grave implication for the well-being and the economy (Azuh, Egharevba, & Azuh, 2014), and also their health as a human physically or psychologically. Kolawole (1998) claims that gender inequity in many African societies is a product of the manipulation culture, in which women’s internalization of values and images played by the negative images of women that derived from traditional conceptualization (Tuwor & Sossou, 2008).
By looking back at Indigenous traditions there is some historical of discriminative situations in African societies, for example, African women are kept from witnessing certain aspects of secret practices and/ rituals (Olatunji, 2013). There’s also Adegbehood in Isua-Akoko, in the practice, any family who only have female children must choose one of their female children to take the position of male in order to be perform the duties, functions, and rites that usually should have been performed by a son of the family (Olatunji, 2013). In the Hausa- and Fulani speaking cultures, the wives should stay at home while their men work of the sub-Saharan region due to allowing women to compete with men would amount to exploitation. So, if preventing women from harsh working conditions counts as abuse then expecting them to rival men should be seen as even worse abuse. But, because the role assigned to provide sustenance for their families, somehow there’s a tendency among men to exploit women (Olatunji, 2013). In Western terms, Africa has always been impoverished and thriving with conflicts; however, most of the conflict involves the discrimination and oppression of women (Hutson, 2007). In African culture polygamy is still common because if a woman cannot produce offspring then her husband may marry another woman for the sake of carrying on the family lines (Hutson, 2007). There are also statutory discrimination, under section 55 (1) (d) of the Penal Code applicable in the Northern Nigeria there is provision for corporal punishment of the wife by her husband which is a violation of her right. The section provides “Nothing is an offence which does not amount to the infliction of grievous harm upon any person and which is done by a husband for the purpose of correcting his wife, such husband and wife being subject to native law or custom in which such correction is recognized as lawful” (Abegunde, 2014).
Discrimination traditionally also can affect children such as; male children, orphans, street children, and disable children but female children especially in Nigeria are subjected and be the victim to all forms of gender discrimination such as female infanticide, sex-selective abortion, early marriages, female genital mutilation and other forms of discrimination (Ijaya, n.d.). Female infanticide is a practice of murder a young female child, often occurring as a deliberate murder or as a result of neglect and sex-selective abortion or female feticide is a murder or abortion of fetus because it is a female, that is happened due to boys are more valued than girls to preserving linage and carried family name in most societies, another reason, raising a son is a better investment because once a girls marries she becomes the property of her husband has no value to her parents (Ijaya, n.d.). Early marriage in Africa is such a common. There are reported cases of vesico-genital fistula (a condition caused by giving birth the cervix is not well developed, because the pelvic bones have had insufficient time to develop to cope with child birth) of the majority of female children whom face early marriages (Ijaya, n.d.). Another tradition that extremely disturbance a girls’ health either physically or psychologically is Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), it refers to the surgical operation carried out traditionally on the female genitalia and often called as female circumcision (Ijaya, n.d.). World Organization Health defines FGM “all procedures that involve partial or total removal of external female genitalia, or either injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons.” (who.int, 2014). FGM is practiced in the Southern and Eastern of Nigeria with the age of mutilation varies from 3rd months to 17th years old or just above the first pregnancy and it rooted in a set of beliefs, values, cultural and social behavior patterns in the society (Ijaya, n.d.). For children FGM causes psychological stress that may trigger some behavioral disturbance in children, loss of trust and confidence with their parents/ care-givers and a woman may suffer feelings of anxiety, depression, terrible pain, and frigidity and some health risks through mutilation they can develop infections such as tetanus, hepatitis, or even HIV (Ijaya, n.d.). In South Africa the huge problem is also the widespread of HIV/AIDS that has no sign of abating. For Women in South Africa HIV tests are often inaccessible, counseling is difficult to find, and the treatment is nowhere to be found (Hutson, 2007).
Women also negatively affected in several ways include deprivation of the women of equality education and decent training, poor healthcare, underage marriage, limited access to productive resources and political power (Azuh, Egharevba, & Azuh, 2014). In the 1930s, women began to move to urban areas in search of work, but the laws and regulations made it very difficult so women struggled to enter the work force (Hutson, 2007). Women also are still untrained and excluded from the job market, women who are employed only find employment with the lowest paying wages and since they are only can get certain jobs, they are forced to accept whatever conditions that given to them in order to keep the jobs (Hutson, 2007).
The difficulties of women to find a job are affected by the lack of their voice in political actions. Women’s participation in politics life has been very minimal. Several prejudices and socio-cultural practices have inhibited and undermined women’s contribution to national development through politics (Abegunde, 2014). A major problem of women participation in politics is that they have an important role and responsibility in their family such as bearing children, cooking, and taking care of routine needs of the family. Another problem hindering women in politics life is the organizational structure of most political parties, and also by the problem of political violence thuggery and intimidation (Abegunde, 2014). Women also have the low level of education and their exclusion from wage earning economic activities is another factor that has contributed to their low level in participation in politics and economy (Abegunde, 2014).
According to UNICEF (2002), there are 120 million children around the world who never got to school. Whereas, basis education for all is a human right and social development issue that is fundamental to gender equality and women’s empowerment in all societies. According to global report (UNESCO, 2004), gender equality in education remains a distant prospect in 54 countries including 16 countries in sub-Sahara Africa. Lassabille and Gomez (1990) asserts that in 2000 approximately 125 million children were expected to be in primary school in sub-Saharan Africa, but 12% of these children never enrolled in school (Tuwor & Sossou, 2008). It is obviously seen that girls are most often the ones that not enroll in school due to socio-cultural reasons and this situation happened because gender imparity and discrimination, which takes its root in patriarchy which originates in the family and in society (Tuwor & Sossou, 2008).
Many Nigerian parents tend to enroll boys in school instead of girls and/ they keep their daughter due to the misinterpretation of the tenets of Islamic religion. Numerous religious tenets are shows up harsh and discriminatory, especially against women and are therefore contrary of human rights norms (Abegunde, 2014). In Ghana and Togo, Trokosi which is the traditional religious may be the obstacle to girls’ education. Northern Nigeria reveals the strict observance of the Islamic custom of Purdah, refers to the seclusion of women from the sight of mend and interaction with strangers inside and outside the home, it generally applies to married women and girls who have reached puberty which disturbance the access of a female in education (Tuwor & Sossou, 2008). The other reason why African female children failed to complete their formal education is because they have always worked multiple times and roles inside and outside their homes (Tuwor & Sossou, 2008).
There are some difficulties challenge facing many African countries today, the problem is such as negotiating successful transitions from histories tainted variously by colonialism, racial segregation, oppression, and conflicts to a truly democratic dispensation (Olatunji, 2013). In oppression and gender discrimination in Africa is deeply rooted in the culture and traditions of the multi-cultural communities, as well as the compliance of women themselves. So, somehow most of women accept their subservience and don’t feel sense of discrimination or oppression (Hutson, 2007). Society mattered more to African people rather than did the individual aspirations (Hutson, 2007).
Education in Ghana has undergone policy reforms over a period of time such as in 1966 and 1974. However, the 2000 population and housing census in Ghana indicates that there are 54.3% of female aged 15 years old and over have never been to school despite efforts being made to increase girls’ education in the country (Tuwor & Sossou, 2008). Formal education in Togo started The German Missionaries in 1887. However, in 1924, the colonial French government introduced a new educational policy. And by that, in terms of female education, separate schools were established for them and the policy behind separate schools for girls was to afford them a little education along the lines of that given in the primary schools with emphasis on sewing, washing, ironing, and personal hygiene (Bunche in Tuwor & Sossou, 2008).
According to the UNDP Human Development Report (2014) figures for all nations, there is greater disparity in African men and women status and potential for development such as most women still lack access to education, employment and income-generating opportunities, information, and parliamentary representations (Azuh, Egharevba, & Azuh, 2014). National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) on 2008, observed that despite significant global increases in enrolment ratios in education, women’s education status is lower than men’s enrolment in Nigeria (Azuh, Egharevba, & Azuh, 2014). In northern Nigeria, 55% of girls aged between 15 and 19 years were pregnant or were mothers already. In Togo, the legal age of marriage is 17 years for girls and 21 years for boys, bur about 27% of girls between the ages of 15 and 19 years have been forced into early marriage (Monekosso on Tuwor & Sossou, 2008), In Ghana, indicate that 3404 teenagers between the ages of 10 and 19 years were pregnant between 2003 and 2004 (Ghana News Agency in Tuwor & Sossou, 2008). Female infanticide and feticide are predominantly practiced in Nigeria. In the Southern and Eastern of Nigeria also practiced Female Genital Mutilation (Ijaya, n.d.).
Based on facts it cannot be denied that gender discrimination in Africa is very visible and shows a huge disadvantages to women rights.
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