THE BEIJING CONFERENCE AND ITS INFLUENCE ON GENDER EQUALITY
Gender equality is one of the major problem that is affecting people in the society, it affect everybody in one way of the other. The study identified the level of gender equality in Makurdi local government Area, Benue State. The objective of the study is to explain the causes of gender equality in Makurdi. To explain the roles and status of women in Makurdi local government area, Benue State. To determine or explain how gender equality hinder or affect the Social economic and political development of people in Makurdi. Data was collected from one source which is the primary through the use of questionnaire: Sample from the research is one hundred and twenty (120) people, which was gotten through random technique. Table 10 from the findings indicates that the status and roles of women in Makurdi local government Area of Benue State have considerately change after the Beijing conference, it shows that as much as 95(79.1%) respondents agreed that formal education for women in Benue State have increased over the years and teenage marriage declined. The study recommends that, there should exist a mutual relationship and inter-networking projects between local women groups, N.G.O’S and government agencies so that more women can be involved in the efforts towards achieving women empowerment.
1.1 Background to the study
The history of women equality in Nigeria can be traced to pre-colonial, colonial and post colonial to the present dispensation, globally, the struggle of gender equality occurred for over a long period of time by leading countries such as the United States of America, France and Britain (ojiakolor and Nwachukwu, 1998). Early efforts were made at the 4th world conference on women held in Beijing, china, between 4th _15th September, 1995 in order to adopt a women’s right charter which would allow women to compete favorably with their male counterparts and ensure global gender equality.
Despites the provision in the constitution of the federal republic of Nigeria which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex, religion, ethnic group and state, it has been duly observed that the male folk in Nigeria have continued to treat women as inferior and subordinate. Women have been grossly marginalized in organizations and public offices where leadership positions are reserved only for men, in most societies, the place of women no matter how educated they are believed to be, the kitchen. Toye olori, (2005).
Going by statistics in Benue state, Angya (2003) holds that women have continued to be underrepresented in higher post in the civil service, judiciary executive and legislative arms of the government at the detriment of woman, although they have immensely contributed towards the nations socioeconomic development at least, women have remained the unheard voice, disempowered by un even distribution in the allocation of power, wealth and status. Women in Makurdi area of Benue state have been stratified, manipulated, relegated and marginalized against the back drop of a century were they represent a potent force in agricultural and economic production and also constituting an unprecedented percentage of global population.
There are various disparities in the socio existence of people due to the differences based on their sexes and fair balance which would ensure that one sex has no advantage over the other is what is implied here to mean gender equality, it is against this background that this research work aims at assessing the impact of the fourth world conference and women held in 1995, Beijing, china, the declaration and the adoption of the plat form for action on the status with particular reference to Makurdi local government area of Benue state.
1.2 Statement of the problem
Gender inequality has remained a serious problem in all societies world over. The debate on women equality has attracted vast attention in many countries recently, the united state of America, various demonstration and protests over rights against discrimination and violence against women have become salient in the country’s history. In Makurdi Benue state, the situation is not quite different, it more appalling. Over the years, Benue state have experienced a tremendous occurrence of gender equality given the fact that women have contributed significantly to the general development of their various societies yet their effort are not recognized. This is more evident in rural communities were women are actively involved in the cultivation of food and cash crops to boost the economy of family and state, but their effort in this direction are often not appreciated and they lack the right to decide in the allocation of the resources they produce.
Women in Makurdi local government area of Benue state have always played five key roles which include that of mother’s agricultural producers, sex providers, house wives and community organizers, but despite their increasing population and crucial roles in the development process, the division of roles between males and females assigns the subordinate position to females. This is usually prescribed by the dominant culture where by customary practices are biased against women and only serve to further oppress and subjugate, them.
This undermining their individual self esteem, rural communities in Benue state have approved practices such as preference for the male child, degrading widowhood rites, physical abuse, molestation and sexual abuse etc. even in urban centre’s and civilized circles, the stereotyped, gender roles condition women into accepting social debasements and over playing their felinity by accepting the position of the weaker sex, and this over emphasizing the dainty nature of their sex.
In other words, the question on the lips of many is what changes has the world conference on women held in 1995 in Beijing, china brought to Makurdi local government area of Benue state are exposed has not really changed for the better compared to what it used to be during the pre-colonial era , therefore the negligence of women as a main gender classification in Makurdi local government area of Benue state and how the Beijing conference have influenced their status gave rise to the study of this research project.
1.3 Research Question
The following research questions will guide this study
a. What are the causes of gender equality in Makurdi local government area of Benue state?
b. What are the roles and status of women in Makurdi local government area of Benue state?
c. How does gender inequality hinder or affect the social economic and political development of Benue state.
d. To what extent do the Beijing declaration and the platform for action affect gender equality in Makurdi local government area of Benue state?
e. How can discrimination against women and all forms of gender based violence be curbed. Makurdi local government area of Benue state.
f. How can women be empowered in Benue state.
1.4 Objective of the study
Based on the research questions, the objectives of the study can be concisely summarized as follows
a) To explain the causes of gender equality in Makurdi local government area of Benue state.
b) To explain the roles and status of women in Makurdi local
Government Area, Benue state?
c) To determine or explain how gender equality hinders or affects the social economic and political development of people in Makurdi local government area of Benue state?
d) To determine the extent Beijing declaration and the platform for action affect gender equality in Makurdi local government area of Benue state?
e) To ascertain how discrimination against women and all forms of gender based violence can be curbed in Makurdi local government area of Benue state?
f) To examined ways of empowering women in Makurdi local
Government Area, Benue state?
1.5 Significance of the study
The study of gender equality is a very sensitive barometer of social problems and an indicator that sheds light on many important social problems, and the level of development a society has attained.
In Makurdi local government area of Benue state, the process of the establishment of gender equality is going ahead in an inseparable unity with society’s economic political and cultural process.
This study is significant because it will highlight the role of gender equality in societal development, similarly, it is hope that the findings and recommendations of this study will help many Non- governmental organization (NGO), and international organizations in devising and planning appropriate ways towards women empowerment and it will also influence policy makers to better status of women in Nigeria.
Finally, this research is hoped to serve as a source of information to various authorities that could help for further research project would also serve as a reference point for the other researchers interested in gender related issues.
1.6 Definition of terms
Gender refers to those characteristics of men and women that are socially and culturally defined, that is the different behaviours, roles, expectations and responsibilities all men and women learn in the context of their own societies (American Health organization, 1997).
The united nations (1986) defined women as the feminine components of the human species who apart from serving as a vehicle of nurturing human life also sere agents for fostering a whole some political, social and economic development in any society, women are different from male counterparts, which reflects the genetic and biological make up of the sexes.
According to the united nations economic and social council (1997;2), gender mainstreaming is the process of assessing the implications for women and men of planned action, including, legislation, policy and programming in all and at all levels.
Gender or women inequality is defined by article one of the united nations convention on the elimination of all forms of violence and discrimination against women as any distinction, exclusion or restriction made on the basis of sex which has the effects or purpose of impairing the recognition, enjoyment or exercise by women irrespective of their marital status, on a basis of equality of men and women, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economical, social, cultural, civil or any other field.
According to sand brook (1993), women empowerment can be defined as a process which involves the transformation of the economic, social, psychological, political and legal circumstances of women.
Women empowerment also refers to the dismantling of the cultural norms and traditional practices that devalue, disempowered and disposes women, the process must also necessarily include the expansion of women’s access to educational opportunities, facilities for skill acquisition and positions of authority (Win, 2005)
These are over simplified but strongly ideas about the characteristics of males and females.
(Barsow 1986), they help maintain gender roles by shaping ideas about gender equality to which men and women are naturally suited (Barbara lioyd 1985).