Gender Equality has being an Important and reoccurring issue through human history, right from the moment, Adam Accused Eva of being the reason for the fall of Man, women have being struggling for significant, respect and a voice in their various society. Dickson, Alobo and Egbe, in their article “Women, Gender equality in Nigeria: A Critical Analysis of Socio-economic and Political (Gender issue)” define Gender equality as “a situation where women and men have equal conditions for realizing their full human rights and potentials; are able to contribute equally to national, political, economic, social and cultural development and benefit equally from the results.” Gender Equality, with the venerability of women in view, has been a moral burden on humanity, a deformity that has not been corrected. The United Nations Population Fund opines that Gender Equality is a human right, which has being an elusive target-“an unfulfilled promise”. The relevance of Gender Equality in “reducing Poverty, promoting Development, and solving world’s most urgent challenges” is the core of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which has the Promotion of Gender Equality as the third goals on its list, while the recently initiated Sustainable Development Goals has it as it fifth goals. However, Nigeria is one country lagging behind in the pursuit of this goal-Nigeria is ranked 118 of 134 countries in the Gender Equality index. This unfortunate fact makes it important for Nigeria to learn from a Country- Finland, scaling the height in this respect.
Gender Inequality in Nigerian
The Patriarchal Nigerian Society has made the discourse of Gender inequality, as apparent in the country, a non-conformity behavior on the part of advocates of this just course. This is evident in the dramatic rejection of a bill titled “Gender Parity and Prohibition of Violence against Women” by a Female Senator, Abiodun Olujimi, based on the excused that it negate the tradition of the people, the tenant of the Shariah and biblical Law. The Bill, according to the sponsor would seek equal right for women in marriage, education and job. However, despite the noble purpose of the bill, the bill was killed before it could breath.
It is unfortunate that women-hood in Nigeria and in Africa is trivialized to the extent that women are to be seen and not to be heard in public. The social restraint on the female folks as a result of their biological makeup, social roles and emotional structure has given us a clear view of the extent of the female Gender Stereotyping in Africa and indeed Nigeria. With the female folks accounting for about 49.9 percent of the over 180 million Nigerian Population, majority of girls and women are facing the scourge of poverty, Molestation, Forced and early marriage, injustice, gross inequality, to name a few. Nigerian Demographic and Education Survey shows that, while 70% of girls in the country have no access to education, 43 percent of men had no education; this shows the sharp contrast in the gender index of Nigerian without education. Women are exposed to all sort of violence by the male counterpart with impunity. According to the 2012 Gender Report by the UK Department for International Development (DFID), “Nigeria’s 80.2 Million women are girls have significantly worst life changes than men and also their sisters in comparable society”.
Inequality on the basis of gender is prevalent in all aspect of girls’ live. While 38% of girl below the age of 15 are out of school, one in three of all women and girls aged 15-14 have been a victim of violence, sexually, emotionally and physically. It is also dis-hearting that the cases of rape, sexual insult and assault, brutalization molestation, and domestic violence against women and girls are surging in recent time, without measures to confront this vices. The problem of trafficking and force sex slave is also an issue that have seen as no issue. The United Nations’ International Orgainsiation for Migration (IOM) Reported recently that 80% of girls conveyed to Italy are trafficked for prostitution. Forced marriage, which leads to early childbirth and the inevitable high rate in Maternal Mortality his on the rise, 80% of girls in Jegawa cannot read because they are doomed to get married at their early teenage years.
The participation of women in the Nigerian public sphere is insignificant. Women have being methodologically pushed to the background of the scheme of things in the country. Acha Chigozie kelechi on her write up “A Persceptive on Women Gender Equality In Nigeria: level Differentials and Prediction” revealed that “the percentage of female workers in some selected professions were as follows: Architects-2.4%, Quantity Surveyors -3.5%, Lawyers – 25.4%, Lecturers – 11.8%, Obstetricians and Gynecologists – 8.4% Pediatricians-33.3%, and Journalist – 15.2%.” The salary difference between Male gender and that of a female gender indicate a lot of inequality. In most organizations female are not placed on an equal salary scale with their male counterpart. Also in Nigeria, Politics has being monopolized by the men; women are faced with culturally carved, systematic obstacles that discourage their venturing into politics. The fact that 11 female out of 106 are in the Nigerian senate is a testimony to the hideous cultural conspiracy to dislodge women of leadership powers. “Nigerian women have about the worst representation of 5.9% in the national legislature when compared to most other African countries” Nigerian also has the lowest rate of female entrepreneurship in sub-Saharan Africa.
Women and their family live in Nigerian also show cases the disparity between the rights entitled to the women and the men. The influence of women on the family and the society prompted the Secretary General of the United Nations, Ban ki Moon to say that “when we empower women, we empower communities, nations and the entire human family”. The Nigerian Ambassador to the United Nations, Joy Ogwu U. went further to say this concerning Gender Equality, “The progress of women means… the progress of the world” despite this obvious truth, the female folks in the country have to be empowered to be the catalyst of change that they ought to be-Since the female folks in the country account for 65-70% of the work force in the sector that contribute the largest of the country’s resources-Agriculture, apart from Crude Oil. The DIFD Reports also agree that “Women are Nigerian’s hidden resource”
The social roles for the female gender have always subjugated the girls and the women in the society, it is a popular conception that the place of a woman is in the kitchen: she is given birth to, to please her Husband and father; she is not expected to have an opinion of her own. This social restraint has hampered the ambition of every female in the society; she can’t dare to dream. Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche Literarily Capture this sad scenario thus: “we spend too much time teaching our girls to worry about what boys think of them. But the reverse is not the case… we teach our girls to shrink themselves, to make themselves smaller, we say to girls, you can have ambition. But not too much… otherwise, you will threaten the men.” Culture as always being the excuse for so much ills perpetuated again the girls and the woman. Female Circumcision for example, a traditional practice allegedly meant to curb promiscuity in a girl child is still being practiced in most Nigerian society today, unabated.
Critics of Gender equality advocacy in Nigeria, have stated that the basic human right in Nigerian has given the women and girls to manifest and take their place in the society, and that there is no law preventing them from living above the limitations and stereotype of the society, but the fact is that Education, the resources, social capacity and other important tools for their emancipation from these social problems have been deprived of most women in the country. Apart from the factor of culture, Gender inequality is caused by ignorance, lack of education, religious perception and other. These have also been the major reason why the Gender and Equal opportunity Bill of 2011 has not been revisited since it was set aside. To tap the resources imbedded in the female population in the country is an immediate need to give every women the power to dream and to determine the type of live she wises for herself. Finland can teach us not only the tips needed to turn Nigerian gender inequality status around, but to also modify the benefits of doing so.
LESSONS FROM FINLAND’S GENDER INDEX
Finland’s gender policies have projected to all that country is Liberal enough to see all gender as an important part of the society. Just like most European countries, Finland has shed the patriarchal weight that has bedeviled humanity since inception. Finland is known to be the first country to grant women Voting Rights in 1906, and the following year, 19 women and 181 men were elected to the unicameral parliament: since then, the participation of women in Politics have being increasing. Of the MPs elected in the 2003 parliamentary election 37.5 percent were women. The First Female Prime Minister In the world was appointed 2003 while the first Finland’s first female President, Tarja Halonen, was re-elected for the second term in 2006. Also 37% of the council members in the 2004 local election were women. The World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report listed Finland among the first top three as a result of the massive involvement of women in Polities.
Discrimination based on gender, gender based violence, and social gender restriction in Finland is the lowest in the world. Women are given the freedom to dream and to aspire for different ambitions. The achievement of Finland in the area of Gender equality started from the acknowledgement of the important of the female folks, Also Education is a vital tool employed by the Finnish to kill inequality. Equality is one of the principal of education in Finland. The Girl Child is not left to the cold hand of illiteracy. Also, Education can be a social leveler in Nigerian
Finland encourages the participation of women in politics with the creation of a vibrate women wing of various Political parties. This women political pressure group with in these parties further advocated for gender equality in other sphere of live, thereby increasing the influence of women in Public domain. To guarantee all gender a place in Public service, the policy of a statutory 40-60 per cent quota requirement is put in place. The Finland’s Government also has strong laws to protect genders, especially the female sex in private organization. Private Organisation and government agencies are to draw out plans to ensure that all gender in the organisation are treated equally in term of remuneration and promotion. Laws against violence and stereotyping are being enforced. Every citizen are entitled to Human dignity and rights which are jealously protected by existing laws and authorities in Finland. There is no doubt that if these actions are replicated in Nigeria, in No time, women would begin to take their place in Nigerian Politics.
In conclusion, Nigerian Leaders needs to understand that stability and poverty reduction, economic development can only be possible when every citizen is carried along. The government should encourage women involvement in decision making by appointment more female to strategic position. Education for the girl child should be seen as a priority, since it is true that when we educate a male child, we educated just one person, but if we educate a girl, we educate a nation.