WOMEN’S RIGHTS IN AFRICAN CONSTITUTIONS: A DESIDERATUM OR A MERE FEMINIST UTOPIAN AGENDA?
1.1 Background of the Study
It would appear correct to say that the subject of women’s rights is one of the most contentious and seemingly nebulous aspects of human rights jurisprudence. The struggle for the recognition and enforcement of women’s rights spans through centuries and global borders; yet a lot of nations of the world still have reservations about the subject while others have not ratified some of the core Conventions. The issue of women’s rights has grown amidst thistles and thorns and a lot of international, regional, sub-regional and national instruments have been developed through the years. These instruments severally place specific obligations on State parties to take legislative and other measures to ensure that women’s rights are protected and enforced.Africa is one region of the world whose slow development has attracted a lot of concerns from the United Nations and other developed countries due to her peculiar pedigree.Although Africa may be seen as a late comer in the formation of a regional instrument for the protection of human rights, she has a reputation for having a unique Charter which addresses individual rights, people’s rights among other features that are not in other instruments and above all for having a charter that reflects African values.The need to specifically enumerate and ensure the protection of women’s rights led to the adoption of a special Protocol to the African Charter on women’s rights.A notable feature of the Women’s Protocol is that in Article 2(1)(a) parties are mandated inter alia to “include in their national constitutions and other legislative measures if not already done, the principle of equality between women and men and ensure its effective application.” There has been series of agitations from women about the need to catalogue the rights of women in Constitutions of African countries.Some African Countries have actually taken commendable steps in enumerating some women’s rights in their constitutions while others are yet to do so. The failure of some countries to articulate the rights of women in their constitutions and the heavy reservations raised by some African Countries on the rights of women actually call for a rethink on the chances of attaining the philosophy behind the rights of women in Africa.Beyond the idea of integrating the rights of women in constitutions is the question of acceptability of some of the rights to the African people and women themselves. Thus, the question of universalism of human rights and the question that some rights are culturally relative still struggle for ascendancy. Irrespective of the conceptions, theories and idiosyncrasies, one fact remains sacrosanct and widely accepted, which is, that the cries of women in Africa for their rights are quite alarming and several efforts have been made to address these issues, even though the efforts may not be commensurate with the cries. The challenges may be daunting but there are still a lot of prospects. While a lot of approaches have been adopted by the stakeholders, there is still a yawning gap between dreams of realization of women’s rights and the fulfillment. It is therefore expedient to balance the cries for women’s rights with the concerns of other stakeholders in order to arrive at a concrete set of rights that will stand the test of time.Other core stake holders, such as the African Union, National governments, religious leaders, traditional rulers and family heads need to be enlightened about agreeable core rights of women in Africa and such rights should form part of the Constitutions of African states.
1.2 Statement of Research Problem
In spite of the general Constitutional provisions on freedom from discrimination on basis of sex and gender equality, among other rights; there is a recurrent clamour, especially from women, for the need to specifically enumerate and provide for the enforcement of the rights of women in African National Constitutions. The Protocol to the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa requires state parties to include in national constitutions, make legislations and take appropriate measures for the full realization of women’s rights stated in the protocol.Regrettably, women’s rights are yet to be enumerated in Constitutions of most African Countries, neither are there specific provisions for the enforcement of these rights in the Constitutions or specific National legislations. Writings on women’s rights have not separated issues of women’s rights from the general feminist agenda; which creates reluctance from other stakeholders, to balance women’s rights with the rights and concerns of other stakeholders and to address peculiar legal and factual circumstances of the African women. The constitution is seen as the grundnorm in most African States and rights that are not enumerated in constitutions are not usually given sufficient respect.
Thus, the central statement in this thesis is that, given the peculiar problems of women in Africa, enumeration and provision for enforcement of their rights in constitutions of African States is a necessity, but it must be balanced with the concerns of other stakeholders.
1.3 Research Questions
What is the rationale behind differentiating Women’s Rights from general provisions on human rights available to everyone?
What are the obstacles to the constitutional enumeration and provision for enforcement of women’s rights in Africa?
iii.. How can the African Union, National Governments, Women organizations and other stakeholders solve the legal comatose involving women’s rights without twisting the neck of other beneficiaries of human rights?
Are women the architects or contributories of their own misfortune or complete victims of masculine idiosyncrasies and high handedness?
Do precedents of the rights of women in other world regions fit into the African women context and is it a question of wanting “to be like other nations” when they have a peculiar pedigree?
What core rights of women should be integrated in Constitutions of African Countries?
1.4 Objectives of the Study
To show the legal foundation for requiring women’s rights to be enumerated and made enforceable in constitutions of African countries.
To explain the peculiar background and identify human rights issues faced by women in Africa.
iii. To identify the factors militating against the enumeration and provision for enforcement of women rights in Constitutions of African Countries.
To strike a balance between advocating the rights of women and other beneficiaries of rights in evolving a Constitutional framework for human rights.
To recommend informed alternative strategies or approaches that can be adopted by the relevant stakeholders (African Union, legislative houses, and women organizations etc.) to ensure that the rights of women are entrenched in National Constitutions or their equivalent in African States.
1.5. Significance of the Study
The research into women rights in African constitutions serves as a one stop material for the African Union and her agencies, future researchers, law teachers, students and women who wish to find justification for integration of women’s rights in African constitutions. It provides a solid framework for comparing the experiences of women in Africa with other regions of the world. This research is cutting edge in that it seeks to create a balance between raw advocacy for women’s rights and the need to balance it with the concerns and rights of other stakeholders. The approaches to the struggle for women rights suggested in this work will attract greater results and ultimately lead to more respect for women’s rights in Africa.
1.6 Scope of the Study
This work focuses on Women’s rights. Not just rights of women all over the world, it addresses women’s rights from the African context. The study however takes off from the point that women’s rights are of global concern before narrowing down to African States. The study draws lessons from other regions of the world with the aim of either drawing useful inspiration to make changes in Africa or showing that some of those templates do not fit into the African mould. Being mindful of the fact that Africa is a vast continent with huge diversities in terms of religion, culture, colonial history among others; the study randomly selects some countries to address the issues at stake. The study acknowledges that there may be general national statutes or policies on women’s rights but it goes further to show that they are not sufficient. The study emphasizes the issues, challenges and prospects of integrating women’s rights in constitutions of African countries. This study also scrutinizes some of the rights canvassed by women in Africa to find the justification or otherwise of including such rights in the Constitutions of African states. Consequently, the work will advocate that some rights which are merely cosmetic or have damning or negative consequences may not be proper in the Constitution while some core rights that are proven to give true essence to womanhood must be inserted.
1.7. Methodology of the Research
This research is library based. The writer will rely on primary sources by assembling key international, regional and national instruments and judicial decisions dealing with women’s rights and will proceed to randomly explore provisions of constitutions of African states on women’s rights. The research also employs narrative methods especially in tracing the history and development of women’s rights. A comparative study of provisions of selected non-African constitutions will be examined to see how women’s rights are addressed .The work shall make an analysis of reports of international, regional and national bodies in order to explain the problems. A combination of the above methods will bring to fore the real issues involved in this work than relying on a single method, for example a mere narrative method on problems faced by women will not provide indices to sway society from preconceived notions on women’s rights but some empirical and verifiable data works better.
This thesis is divided into five chapters comprising an Introduction, Literature Review, two chapters on the main body and the final chapter embodies the Conclusion. Under the introduction, the meaning and debate on the issue of ‘women’s rights’ is addressed. The researcher will trace the evolution of women’s rights at the global level and also unveil the regional peculiarities in this regard. An exegesis of the effect of the issues of universalism and cultural relativism as it relates to women’s rights is also examined. The issues of inter–relationship between international obligations and domestic enforcement are also addressed. The chapter also sets the stage for appreciating constitutionally guaranteed rights as opposed to ordinary rights. Chapter two examines existing African and Non-Africa literature on the subject. It brings to fore the fact that most literatures on the subject of women’s rights concentrate on the failure to insert clear provisions, respect and enforce women’s rights. The approaches in existing literatures are largely that of mudslinging and seeming exaggeration of the failure on the part of governments and the men folk. This thesis therefore ,departs from those conceptions and rather seeks to ‘hear the other side,’ by examining why these rights are not incorporated and to discover ways of putting across the necessity for the comprehensive integration and provision for enforcement of these rights in constitutions in a way that balances the competing interests of women and other stakeholders.
Chapter three focuses on the legal instruments that regulate women’s rights in Africa. Global, Regional, Sub-Regional and selected National instruments are carefully examined in order to appreciate the current legal foundation. The Chapter contains much emphasis on the Protocol to the African Charter on the Rights of women which is the core instrument on women’s rights in Africa. The Chapter reviews the core rights provided for in the Protocol and the mechanisms for implementing the rights. Criticisms of the protocol are highlighted and suggestions are made on how to give life to the Protocol. The Chapter goes further to examine the issue of balancing women’s rights with the concerns and rights of other stakeholders like men and children. In examining the rights of other stake holders, the chapter examines the practical challenges of treating women’s rights in isolation.
Chapter four examines the types and sources of the problems affecting the realization of women’s rights in Africa. Beyond the diagnosis of the problems the chapter goes further to articulate the prospects of realizing these rights. To do justice to this chapter some legislations, reports, decisions of courts and other measures that promote or retard the growth of women’s rights are also examined. The chapter further examines peculiar interpretations given to women’s rights in African international and national courts and the roles played by classified institutions and organizations in the development of women’s rights. Chapter five consists of the summary of the thesis, conclusion and core recommendations for ultimate action.
1.9 Definition of Key Terms
The title of this thesis contains core terms that are worthy of definition and the definitions given hereunder will serve as a guide in appreciating the context in which they are used throughout the thesis.
1.9.1 Women’s Rights
More often than not writers on women’s rights just proceed with discussions on the evolution of women’s rights movements or the kind of rights accruable to women without pausing to give a precise meaning of the phrase ‘women’s rights’.Women’s rights have been defined as, ‘The rights claimed for women, equal to those of men, with respect to suffrage, property, the professional fields etc.’This definition appears to beg the question. The Phrase women’s rights is a juxtaposition of two words, to wit- women and rights. For there to be a comprehensive appreciation of women’s rights one must give answers to the following questions: what does the word ‘women’s’ connote and what are ‘rights’?
The word women’s is the possessive form of the plural of ‘woman’.The word woman derives from the Old English Wif-man, Wif meaning “female” and man meaning “human being.”A more accurate meaning attached to the word woman which shows the distinction from the younger females is “[a]n adult female person.”A creative definition of the word women is “The feminine component of human species, who apart from serving as a vehicle for nurturing human life, is also a producer, a consumer and an equally endowed agent for fostering a wholesome political, social and economic development in society.”On the other hand, rights connote moral or legal entitlements to have or obtain something or to act in a certain way.The word has been defined inter alia as ‘something that is due to a person by just claim, legal guarantee, or moral principle’ .
With the above background in mind, women’s rights, for the purpose of this work, connotes the sum total of all legal entitlements or justifiable demands and claims made by female human beings as being exclusively due to them, whether such claims have been formally recognized in specific legal codes or not.The list of claims or entitlements that can be classified as women’s rights is not in a watertight compartment. Indeed, issues that were not regarded as women’s rights some decades ago now form part of the core rights of women and have been inserted in major world treaties and some national constitutions.One can therefore safely say that women’s rights have a dynamic meaning in terms of specific subjects or issues it comprises of since the issues keep evolving. Thomas captured this point to the nicety when she said:
What is striking about the growing women’s human rights movement is its resistance to polarization and, therefore, its dynamism. Both within and between the essays collected here, there is constant movement from the particular experiences of women to commonalities and affinities that arise from those experiences. The particular and the general constantly interrogate and inform one another. The goal is a politics of difference that has already begun to give rise to rejuvenated conception of universality as the foundation for human rights at local, national, regional, and international levels, a rejuvenation from which the entire human rights movement stands to benefit.
The term “Constitutions” is the plural form of the word Constitution. The word Constitution conveys several meanings but it is used in this work from the legal perspective. According to Harper:
A constitution, whether for a powerful nation or for a local garden club, is a set of rules, a supreme or paramount law that outlines how the organization will operate .In terms of a nation, the constitution sets forth political principles, establishes power and authority, and defines responsibilities. The Constitution proscribes the general principles for what a government can and cannot do. Specific laws enacted by the government, also called statutory law, spell out the details. For example, the US Constitution gives the government the authority to collect taxes, but leaves it to the government to decide who and what will be taxed and how much.
Flowing from the above, a Constitution apart from setting the Political framework and responsibilities of government; usually integrates the fundamental rights and in some cases the duties of the people.The key factor to note is that a constitution is regarded, especially in democracies, by the people bound thereby as “the foundational, fundamental, basic or underlying rule that is of such importance to the organization or people as the very substance of their existence, the condition for their intra relationship and the compass that must be followed in the daily administration of the organization or government.” This work deals with the Constitution as it affects nations as against clubs or related organizations. Nwabueze posits that “A Constitution is a mode of organizing a state and its government; it is in other words, a body of fundamental principles according to which a state is organized.”Harper goes further to state that, “[t]he United States Constitution is a master document, the paramount or overriding set of laws laying out the foundation of American democracy and the rule of law.” Thus it has been further defined as the “Fundamental and entrenched rules governing the conduct of an organization or nation state, and establishing its concept, character and structure. It is usually a short document, general in nature and embodying the aspirations and values of its writers and subjects.”In the sense presented above, the constitution does not generally provide so much details but it prescribes the fundamental principles while other laws can be used to set out the details of the principles. This point was carefully clarified as follows:
A ‘Constitution’ is primarily a declaration of the principles of the fundamental law. Its main provisions are usually commands to the legislature to enact laws to carry out the purposes of the framers of the Constitution, or mere restrictions upon the power of the legislature to pass laws yet it is entirely within the power of those who establish and adopt it to make any of its provisions self –executing.
In fact the initial Constitution of the United States of America was so terse that it was published in full in the newspapers for all the Americans to be able to read.
The summary of the above is that the Constitution is the law that stands above all other laws in the land and all other laws are inferior to it. In the Nigerian Case of Nabiu v Kano State the Supreme Court stated as follows:“…The present constitution has been proclaimed the supreme law of the land: that it is a written, organic instrument meant to serve not only the present generation, but also several generations yet unborn…it, of necessity claims superiority to and over and above any other…”
In law the word Constitution can be understood in two broad ways. In the broad sense it refers to the basic laws which may be rooted in the customs, usages, judicial decisions among others; while in the second sense it refers to the instrument of document that embodies the law. In the earlier sense, a constitution may be deemed to be in existence even though it may not be produced as a single document while in the second sense it technically suggests the existence of a document or a set of documents in this regard. This is why it is often said that a Constitution may be written or unwritten.A Constitution basically reflects the norms, values and aspirations of the people to be bound by it. Indeed any Constitution that is alien to the norms, values and aspirations of the people will lose its efficacy.A good constitution must be home grown, in other words it must be autochthonous. As Professor Tobi said: “A Constitution is said to be autochthonous if it derives its force and validity from its own native authority….In other words, an autochthonous Constitution must be home grown in the sense that it is homemade and not a product of imperialism or colonialism.”In a sense therefore the Constitution serves as a good index of the values of the people. Thus the Constitution has been used as an instrument to reflect changes in core values of the people. As Stated by Balkin and Siegel, Siegel observed that, “the Constitution once permitted a wide variety of forms of artistic censorship; it once treated women as men’s servants, and gays as criminals. It does no longer. All these changes came about because people believed in their Constitution and in the importance of continually examining our practices in the light of our principles….The Constitution as it is applied in practice will inevitably change, responding to altered circumstances and conditions. This is not a defect; it is a feature of our Constitutional tradition. It is how each generation makes the Constitution its own.”
The word is a Latin noun which means ‘something that is needed or wanted.’ It could also be seen as ‘something desired as essential.’ Another interesting definition is the one which sees it as ‘something considered necessary or highly desirable’. It also means ‘something desired as a necessity’ and has synonyms such as ‘essential, necessary, requisite, necessity, requirement’and sine qua non.
The word can be seen from different perspectives. It is an adjective meaning ‘Advocating social, political, legal, and economic rights for women equal to those of men.’ In its noun form it is used to describe an advocate of such rights. The term has also been defined in its noun form as ‘a person who believes in and supports feminism’A scholar rightly observed that “[t]he intent of the concept of feminism in its reconceptualised form necessarily connotes, actualization of human rights notion, but with the rights of women in focus.”It has been said that the term ‘feminism’ originated in France but was not widely used until the 1890’s.
For the purpose of this work the term is used loosely to cover both perspectives referred to above, but it is not used in the very technical form which makes reference to a particular association or group.A broad view of feminists is well captured by Adeleye-Fayemi when she said as follows:
…we still need a feminist analysis of the world in which we live. We need continually to go back and sharpen our feminist analytical tools. The feminists of all persuasions is a political and ideological space. This space is made up of many individuals, organizations ,associations and entities that constitute the feminist movement; it is made up of our friendships, networks, bonds, organizations and our individual and collective feminist energies .It is a space for feminists and to claim and to use.
This is an adjectival form of the word ‘Utopia. It has been said that ‘if you describe a plan or idea as utopian, you are criticizing it because it is unrealistic and shows a belief that things can be improved much more than is possible.’Utopia is a place of ideal perfection especially in laws, government and social conditions. The first known use of the word has been traced to 1516.The word was coined in Greek by Sir Thomas More. The word is also said to be “more of a philosophical concept than a practical place…It is commonly defined as a political concept, that is strived towards but never really achieved…more of an inspirational concept than practical, something to aim for(perfection)that is not realistically attainable in real world.”
1.10 Evolution of Women’s Rights Globally
It is difficult to trace with certainty the origin of the clamour for women’s rights. This is possibly because of the multi-faceted nature of women’s rights, the varying stages of development of women’s rights and poor records of the demands for women’s rights in some parts of the world.One thing that is clear is that the struggle for women’s rights “evolved from women organizing on local, national, regional and international levels around issues that affect their daily lives”. To this writer, one of the oldest records of the clamour for rights of women arose about 6000 years ago. This had to do with the demand by the “Daughters of Zelophedad” for female inheritance of landed property and the right to protect the property of their deceased father in the ancient Israel. Another informed, notable and historic record of the clamour for women’s rights is said to have occurred the year 1790 in the United States of America, when Abigail Adams, wife of the second President of United States of America wrote to her husband about the need for the respect and protection of the rights of women in the young American nation. She wrote as follows:
Remember the ladies and be more generous and favourable to them than your ancestors. Do not put such unlimited power into the hands of the husbands. Remember all men would be tyrants if they could…if particular attention is not paid to the ladies, we are determined to foment a rebellion and will not hold ourselves bound by any law in which we have no voice or representation.”
Although there may have been in existence pockets of agitations for rights of women at various levels, the history of formalized public agitation for the rights of women has been traced to the year 1848.According to Harper.
Many point to the start of the women’s movement as the two-day women’s rights convention held in Seneca Falls, New York, in July 1848 organized by Lucretia Mott and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, the convention concluded with a Declaration of Sentiments that objected to the unfair treatment of women politically, culturally and economically .It was the first large scale public demand for women to have the vote.
The above mentioned Seneca Falls Convention generated a lot of concerns and sparked off series of activities at the individual and group level as women became more conscious of their rights.Series of advocacy and litigations were commenced by women to enforce their rights and they secured judicial protection.The women in America proceeded to get the blessing of the Legislature which ultimately led to the Nineteenth Amendment of the constitution.
The campaign for women’s rights also developed through the formation of associations or advocacy groups. Among these were National Women Suffrage Association in 1969; National American Women Suffrage Association, 1890; National association of Coloured Women, 1896; National Women’s Trade Union League for Improved Wages and Working Conditions, 1903 among others.What may be gleaned from the above is that the records of the clamour and championship of women’s rights tilt more towards America. However, the Aba Women’s Riot that took place in Nigeria, Africa in 1929 was one of the most notable demonstrations of the fact that male domination, even in a place such as Africa, was becoming most intolerable to women around the world. The riot was a fallout of direct taxation introduced in Nigeria, here one of the officers eventually assaulted a woman in the cause of trying to forcefully execute his functions. The women gathered in thousands and demanded among others for the removal of the man from his office, which they got and also secured his conviction for the assault.
The pockets of agitation for the recognition and protection of Women’s Rights as seen today can be said to have assumed international recognition in the wake of the 20th Century. The formation of the League of Nationswhich was the first global common platform for examining issues affecting the nations of the world can actually be seen as the foundation for the global appreciation of the need to look into the rights of women. As Gasioukwu put it,
The Covenant on the League of Nations represented an important step towards equality of men and women. In 1937, the League appointed an expert committee to undertake a comprehensive study on the legal status of women, the work of which was unfortunately interrupted by the outbreak of the Second World War.
The efforts made under the League of Nations were reinforced when the United Nations Charter came into existence in 1945.The views of Poe, Wendel-blunt and Ho are worth noting:
International efforts to guarantee women’s rights began, for most intents and purposes, with the passage of the UN Charter in 1945. In Article 55(C) of that Charter, it is stated that the “United Nations shall promote….Universal respect for, and observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms for all without distinction
as to race, sex, language, or religion.” Countries acceptance of this document is a condition for gaining membership into the United Nations. Thus, it is a document that provides a sound base, establishing the rights of women on an equal footing with men.
In 1946 the United Nations, recognized the need to specifically examine the status of women since this was gradually becoming a global concern. Thus, the Commission on the Status of Women was established as other Commissions of ECOSOC.The adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948 was like the big Cap that crowned the global protection of the rights of women.
Sequel to the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights several other specific instruments and actions developed to give the rights of women a more secure footing globally. Some of these subsequent deeds are the Equal Remuneration Convention,1951 which was directed at ensuring equal remuneration for men and women for equal work;Discrimination(Employment and Occupation)Convention,1958which forbade all distinctions impairing employment opportunities inter alia on grounds of sex. International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, 1966; The International Covenant on Economic and Socio Cultural Rights, 1966. The United Nations General Assembly demonstrated a radical commitment to women’s rights when it passed Resolution 3010(XVVII) of 18th December, 1972 proclaiming 1975 as the International Women’s Year. The series of actions culminated in the Convention on Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women(CEDAW),1979.The global recognition of women’s rights has led to series of other international conferences on women’s rights where concrete resolutions and plans of action have taken place at the international plane.
1.11 Women’s Rights and Regional Peculiarities
The globalization of the rights of women had an impact on the regions of the world. The issues and problems affecting women vary from one region of the world to another and in some regions the degree or effect of the problems is much more than that of others. For example the following observations were made in relation to a study on women’s rights:
Although the study indicates that a substantial deficit in women’s rights persists in every country of the Gulf region and is reflected in practically every facet of their societies, its findings also include the notable progress achieved over the last five years, particularly in terms of economic and political rights. The Gulf region, and the Middle East as a whole, is not the only region of the world where women experience inequality. In Asia, Africa, Latin America, Europe, and North America, women continue to face discrimination and significant barriers to the full realization of their rights. It is in the Gulf, however, that the gap between the rights of men and those of women has been most clear and substantial. The Gulf countries were the worst performers in nearly all subject areas examined in the 2005 Freedom House study Women’s Rights in the Middle East and North Africa: Citizenship and Justice, scoring particularly poorly in the categories analyzing legal rights and protection from discrimination, political rights, as well as women’s personal status and autonomy.
Although, this research is on Africa, it is pertinent to examine peculiar developments on women’s rights in selected regions of the world before addressing the peculiarities in Africa.
1.11.1 Women’s rights in Europe
The historical and contemporary foundation of women’s rights in Europe is quite intriguing. It can be said, as will be seen below, to have evolved through pockets of individual agitations, writings, debates, formation of groups, national judicial decisions, legislations and regional instrumentation. Europe is indeed a highly enlightened region of the world and it comprises of notable countries some which are major world powers. Thus, the development of Women’s rights also had its relativity and peculiarity in the diverse Countries. As far back as the 14th century a debate had arisen in France over “The Problem of Women.” The debate focused largely on their nature and proper role in society.At the centre of the debate was a legendary French writer Christine De Pisan who has been rated as the first European female to make a living as a Writer. In her books, which were widely read and other public presentations, she argued profusely that a woman’s role in society is not just limited to bearing children and doing house related work, but that women should be allowed to work, have good education and serve in the military among others.The debate is said to have continued in diverse ways throughout Europe for several centuries with the effect of raising widespread awakening on issues of women’s rights.In a place like Russia the initial clamour for recognition and protection of women’s rights on different issues culminated in the Ban on segregation of sexes in 1718, ban of forced marriages,1722;introduction of primary and high schools for women in 1786. Indeed a lot of work was done by the revolutionary leadership of Peter the Great to enhance the rights of women in Russia, this among others resulted in four women ascending the Russian throne between 1725 and 1796. In respect of Germany it has been said that:
For centuries, a woman’s role in German society was summed up and circumscribed by the three “K” words: Kinder (children), Kirche (church), and Küche (kitchen). Throughout the twentieth century, however, women have gradually won victories in their quest for equal rights. In 1919 they received the right to vote. Profound changes also were wrought by World War II. During the war, women assumed positions traditionally held by men. After the war, the so-called Trümmerfrauen (women of the rubble) tended the wounded, buried the dead, salvaged belongings, and began the arduous task of rebuilding war-torn Germany by simply clearing away the rubble.
The clamour for Women’s rights in European countries yielded a lot of results in the 19th Century and 20th century. For example in 1869 Britain granted unmarried women the right to vote at local elections; in 1881 Scottish women had right to vote in local elections; in 1893 New Zealand granted equal voting rights to women, in 1894 the United Kingdom expanded voting rights to married women in local elections; in 1895 south Australian women were given voting rights; in 1906 Finland granted female suffrage; in 1908 women in Denmark got local voting rights; in 1913 Norway adopted full women suffrage; in 1917 women in Netherlands were granted rights to stand for elections and in 1925 Italy granted voting rights to women. Outside the developments in the field of civil and political rights, the 20th Century also recorded huge developments in other categories of human rights in European countries.
In 1958 women were allowed to become priests in Sweden. In 1970 the United Kingdom Parliament passed the Equal Pay Act.The main aim of the Act was to try to eradicate discrimination in working conditions and the pay gap between men and women.A major milestone on women’s rights took place in the United Kingdom with the Passage of the Sex Discrimination Act of 1975(SDA’75). SDA’75 prohibited sex discrimination against individuals in the areas of employment, education and the provision of goods, facilities or services as well as in the disposal or management of premises. The Act addressed all forms of direct and indirect forms of discrimination against women and men. The Act went further to protect persons from the pressure to discriminate. The Equal Opportunities Commission was also established under the Act to give effect to the purposes in the Act.Indeed the right to employment has developed significantly in Europe. A notable milestone among others is the fact that in 1997 the European Union made two significant legal advancements in this regard. The first was through the Treaty of Amsterdam.As it was noted, ‘One of the effects of the Amsterdam Treaty is that equal opportunities for women and men are now considered one of the fundamental aims of the Union. In the Treaty the Member States lay down that gender equality issues will be taken into account in all of the Union’s doings, or in other words that the Union will adopt what is known as the mainstreaming strategy.’The second was the adoption of guidelines to include equal opportunities as the fourth pillar of employment policy along with employability, entrepreneurship and adaptability.The Employment guidelines among others required that:
Member States should translate their desire to promote equality of opportunity into increased employment rates for women. They should also pay attention to the imbalance in representation of women or men in certain economic sectors and occupations…attempt to reduce the gap in unemployment between women and men by actively supporting increased employment of women and will act to reverse the under-representation of women in certain economic sectors and occupations and their over-representation in others….There must be an adequate provision of good quality care for children and other dependants in order to support women’s and men’s entry and continued participation in the labour market.
Another critical aspect in the development of women’s rights in Europe is reproductive rights. Reproductive rights can be seen as the sub-set of human rights that cover issues such as reproduction and reproductive health. They generally include the right to legal or safe abortion, the right to birth control, the right to access quality reproductive healthcare, and the right to education and access in order to make reproductive choices free from coercion, discrimination, and violence. The may also include the right to receive education about contraception and sexually transmitted infections, and freedom from coerced sterilization, abortion, and contraception, and protection from gender-based practices such as female genital cutting (FGC) and male genital mutilation (MGM).The struggle for the recognition and protection of women’s reproductive rights in Europe has gone through a lot of evolutionary processes.The European parliament on February 1,
 The Beijing Declaration of 1995 stated inter alia that, “…that the human rights of women and of the girl child are an inalienable, integral and indivisible part of universal human rights.” See UN Women, “The United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women,” available at<http//www.un.org/ womenwatch/daw/Beijing/platform/declar.htm> accessed 3 February 2012. There are clear areas where there is unanimity about rights which are peculiar to women, the violation of which has been held to be contrary to natural justice. For example female genital mutilation has been condemned as violating women’s right to human dignity and such acts are seen as crimes. See P. Chesler, “Female Genital Mutilation in the West: A Creeping Crime against Humanity” available at http://www.breitbart.com/national-security/2014/11/19/female-genital-mutilation-in-the-west/ accessed 11 December 2014. In other instances even women themselves see the clamour for recognition of some women issues as Human rights as being irresponsible or reprehensible. See J. Hurley, Women’s Rights (Greenhaven Press, USA 2002) p.152 where it was stated among others ,that the Women’s Liberation Movement is a major cause of divorce and other societal problems and that some demand by women are incompatible with the demands of marriage and motherhood.
 As at date the United States of America has not ratified the Convention on Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), which was adopted since 1979 while some countries expressed reservations in respect of several rights in CEDAW. See L. Lowen, “Why won’t the U.S. Ratify CEDAW,” available
athttp://womensissues.about.com/od/feminismequalrights/a/CEDAWUS.htm,accessed February 3, 2013; See also D. Thalif, “Gender: UN. Women’s Treaty weakened by slew of reservations” Available at
accessed3 February 2013.
 International efforts to guarantee women’s rights began, for most intents and purposes, with the passage of the United Nations Charter in 1945(Hereafter called UN Charter). Article 55(C) of that Charter provides for equal protection of rights. In 1946 the United Nations (UN) recognized the need to specifically examine the status of women since this was gradually becoming a global concern. Thus, the Commission on the Status of Women was established as other Commissions of ECOSOC. The adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) in 1948 was like the big Cap that crowned the global protection of the rights of women. Sequel to the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights several other specific instruments and actions developed to give the rights of women a more secure footing globally.
 It has been stated that Africa is one of the Continents that did not have a good history of recognition of natural rights as part of their legal framework before the advent of modern human rights regime. See J. Donelly, Universal Human rights in theory and practice (Cornel University Press, USA 2003) pp.78-79. Some scholars hold the view that women in Africa suffer more than women in other parts of the world. See for example K. Ebeku, “New Hope for African Women: Overview of Africa’s Protocol on Women’s Right,” available athttp://www.njas.helsinki.fi/pdf-files/vol13num3/ebeku.pdf accessed February 8, 2013.
 The European Convention on Human Rights was in 1950, American Convention on Human rights, 1969 while the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights was in 1981.See — “The Major Regional Human Rights Instruments and the Mechanisms for their Implementation” available athttp://www.ohchr.org/Documents/Publications/training9chapter3en.pdf accessed February 3, 2013.
 The Preamble to the African Charter On Human and people’s Rights ,Adopted in Nairobi in June 1981(Hereafter called “African Charter”) states in part as follows: “Taking into consideration the virtues of their historical tradition and the values of African Civilization which should inspire and characterize their reflection on the concept of human and people’s rights.”
 See The Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa, Adopted in Maputo in July 2003(Hereafter called “Women’s Protocol”). The women’s Protocol expressed a lot of concerns in its preamble about the continuous deprivation of the rights of women in Africa in spite of the existence of many international instruments and the need to ensure the full promotion and realization of the rights of women.
 E.g. M. Robinson, “Securing Women’s Rights through the Constitution”, Keynote address at the Zimbabwe High Level Dialogue on Women’s Empowerment in the Political and Economic Arena April 26, 2010. Available at http://www.realizingrights.org/pdf/Securing_Womens_Rights_in_the_Constitution-Zimbabwe.pdf accessed February 8, 2013
 The Constitution of Kenya of 2010 consists of a lot of Articles which protect the rights of women. Example, Articles 26 and 27. See also the Constitution of Rwanda adopted in 2003 and the impressive array of rights given to women. See generally, E. Powley, “Rwanda: Women Hold up Half the Parliament” Available at http://www.idea.int/publications/wip2/upload/Rwanda.pdf accessed February 8, 2013 where the writers examine Constitutional provisions in Rwanda that enhance Women’s rights.
 Commenting on Article 16 of CEDAW which deals with bundles of rights in respect of marriage, it has been observed that, “Acceptance of the Universality of international norms is a particularly significant issue with respect to Article 16. A large proportion of the reservations to the Convention pertain to this Article, the general rationale being that it conflicts with personal status laws, which states parties will not readily challenge or alter. “See M. A. Freeman, “The Human rights of Women in Family: Issues and Recommendations for implementation of the Women’s Convention” in J. Peters and A. Wolper (eds), Women’s Rights, Human Rights (Routledge, New York 1995) 158.
 Some rights that have been canvassed for women are still the subject of debate .For example the Right to decide whether to have children and if so the number and spacing of such children (See Article 14 of Women’s Protocol) is generally not seen as one which should be the exclusive preserve of a woman. The right to Abort a pregnancy is still a thorny issue which is not only seen as sacrilegious in some African communities but as a right which can only be exercised in concert with the woman’s husband. The gay rights, widowhood rights among others. See generally, J. Donelly, Universal Human rights in theory and practice (Cornel University Press, USA 2003), pp.89-103 where the writer makes an extensive discussion of the theory of Universalism and Cultural Relativism.
 The ordeal suffered by women in the area of customary and religious practices which inhibit their rights is alarming. Practices such as female genital mutilation, refusal of females to own property or inherit their late father’s property, forced marriages, child marriage among others have formed the basis of criticisms and litigation. See for example the case of Mojekwu v Mojekwu (1997) 7 NWLR (Pt.512) p.283; Suberu v Sumonu (1957) 2 FSC 31; Dow v AG Botswana (1991) LRC (Const.) 574, Ephraim v Patory&Anor(1990) LRC (Const.) 757.
 The efforts have been multifaceted ,they range from Judicial decisions from African Courts, Resolutions and efforts of the African Union and her agencies, Campaigns by Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) to mention a few. For instance the African Union has established a Court to address cases on Human Rights. See Protocol to the African Charter on the African Human Rights Court (Human Rights Court), adopted in June 1998. A Resolution to integrate the African Human Rights and the African Court of justice was adopted by the African Union (AU) in July 2004. See S. B. Keetharuth, “Major African legal instruments” available at www.kas.de/…/Human_Rights_in_Africa/7_Keetharuth.pdf (Accessed February 12, 2013). The Court apart from making room for enforcement of human rights makes provision for adequate gender representation in the election of Judges. See Article 14 (3) of the Protocol to the African Charter on African Court on Human and Peoples Rights, 2004.
 The gradual implementation of some of the resolutions of the African union on Women’s rights as evidenced in the representation of Women as half of the Judges of the African Court; the election of Women into Core positions in National Governments like in Liberia where a Woman was elected as President for the first time, the increasing boldness of National Courts to declare some violations of the rights of women are all indicative of the fact that there are prospects.
 S. Rowbotham, A Century of Women, The History of Women in Britain and United States (Penguin Group, New York 1997) at p.575 admitted that there are divergent perspectives on handling Women’s rights but advocated at p.580 a ‘balance between individual and social rights’ as a good guide to resolving the issue.
 For women’s rights to have the desired impact all the stakeholders must put their hands on deck towards ensuring that a proper legal framework is not only developed for the women but that it has comprehensive mechanisms for implementation in the Constitutions of African states.
 For example, Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (Amended in 2011), Section 42 provides generally for the right to freedom from discrimination on grounds of sex, Section 222 (a) requires Political parties to be open to every citizen irrespective of sex as a condition to functioning in Nigeria. No specific provision is made in the said constitution for women’s rights simplicita. See B. Mabandla, “Women in South Africa and the Constitution Making Process”, in Julie Peters and A. Wolper (eds), Women’s Rights: Human Rights (Routledge, New York 1995) 67-71 where the struggle by the women of South Africa for the recognition of some rights of women in the South African Constitution is discussed.
 Women’s Protocol (n7) Articles 2 (1) (a) and 26.
 See for example the Nigerian case of Abacha v Fawehinmi(2000) 6NWLR (Pt.660) 228 where there were concerns about the Rights in African Charter on Human and People’s Right (which was domesticated as a Nigerian legislation) and the enforcement of such rights since they are not listed among the fundamental rights in the Constitution of Nigeria.
 For example the Constitutive act of the African Union is signed by 53 State Parties and it entered into force in May 2001, some of the Countries are Francophone some are Anglophone. See Centre for Human rights & University of Peace, Compendium of Key Human Rights Documents of the African Union (Pretoria University Law Press, South Africa 2005) 38&262.
 The preamble to Women’s Protocol raised serious concerns to the effect that, “despite the ratification of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights and other international human rights instruments by the majority of state parties, and their solemn commitment to eliminate all forms of discrimination and harmful practices against women, women in Africa still continue to be victims of discrimination and harmful practices.” This forms a springboard for further inquiry as to the sufficiency of existing instruments, the nature of approaches adopted, the quality of the rights themselves and possibly the need to use an instrument like national constitutions to address the issues.
 See for example, J. Morsink “Women’s Rights in the Universal Declaration,” Available @ http://english.konferenz-nuernberg08.de/Morsink_Women’s%20Rights%20in%20the%20Universal%20Declaration.pdf (Accessed December 27, 2012); E. Stamatopoulou, ‘Women’s Rights and the United Nations’ in Peters, J. and Wolper, A. (eds), Women’s Rights, Human Rights (New York, Routledge 1995) 36-48; E.C. Dubois, Woman Suffrage and Women’s Rights (New York university Press: New York ,1998) 38; S. G. McMillen, Seneca Falls and the Origins of the Women’s Rights Movement (Oxford University Press, New York 2008)
 –“women’s rights” Available at http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/women’s%20rights?s=t accessed December 27, 2012.
 E. Jewel and F. Abate (eds), The New Oxford American Dictionary, (2ndedn Oxford University Press, New York 2005) 1932
 R. Henderickson, the Facts on file Encyclopedia of Word and Phrase Origins (Facts On File, New York 1997) 725
26 Girls are females but in the strict sense a woman is used for older females. See –“woman” available at http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/woman?s=t accessed December 27, 2012.
 J. Ogwu, “Women in Development: Options and Dilemmas in Human Rights equation” in C. O. Akpambo (ed) Perspectives on Human Rights, Federal Ministry of Justice Law Review Series (Federal Ministry of Justice, Lagos 1992) 143.
 E. Jewel and F. Abate (n 24) 1458.
 B. Garner,Blacks Law dictionary (9thedn West Publishers, USA 2009) 1436.
 This writer is adopting a liberal approach here because for one to restrict women’s rights to what is in existing statute, books or customary laws is to give a blind eye to the legal dynamism that is currently experienced in many countries and advocated by the women. Any successful advocacy of ‘perceived’ rights of women can become entrenched in the statute books. The key point is whether the demands have over time become accepted by the women, even in particular societies as what they should be legally entitled to. For example the Origin of the right to vote which started as complaints, writings, campaigns, litigations and ultimately legislations : S. G. McMillen, Seneca Falls and the Origins of the Women’s Rights Movement (Oxford University Press, New York 2008) 104-148.
 See for example Article 26 of the Constitution of Ghana, 1992 which has provision for paid maternity leave for working mothers and the right to training and promotion for women.
 D. Q. Thomas, ‘Conclusion’ In J. Peters and A. Wolper, (eds), Women’s Rights, Human rights (Routledge, New York 1995) 357.
 T. Harper, The Complete Idiots Guide to the U.S. Constitution (Alpha Books, USA 2007) p.2.
 For example the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 as amended in 2011 contains fundamental rights in Chapter IV and Duties of Citizens in Chapter III.
 A. Akpabio, “Legitimate Wishes of Nigerians: Key to Constitutional Autochthony” (LL.M Dissertation, University of Uyo 2003) 2.
 B. Nwabueze, The Presidential Constitution of Nigeria (C.Hurst& Company, London 1982)7
Harper (n 33) 2.
 — “Constitution,” available at http://www.businessdictionary.com/definition/constitution.html (Accessed February 16, 2013).
 West Publishing Co., Words and Phrases Permanent Edition (West Publishing Co., USA 1964) p.449.
 –“The Constitution of the United States”, available at (Accessed February 18, 2013)
 (1980) 8-11S.C.130 at 148-149
West Publishing Co. Words and Phrases (Permanent edn West Publishing Co., USA 1964) 448.
 Harper (n 33) 2-3.
 B. Nwabueze, “Conference of Ethnic Nationalities” The Comet (Nigeria 11 July, 2001) 31
 N. Tobi, “The Legitimacy of Constitutional Change in the Context of the 1999 Constitution”, in I A., A .Guobadia and Adekunle O. Nigeria: Issues in the 1999 Constitution (NIALS, Lagos 2000) p.29
 J. M. Balkin and R. B. Siegel (eds), The Constitution in 2020 (Oxford University Press, New York 2009) p.3.
 A. S .Hornby, Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary of Current English (6thedn, Oxford university Press, New York 2000) p.315.
 –“ Desideratum” available at http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/desideratum accessed March 2, 2013
— “Desideratum” available at http://www.answers.com/topic/desideratum accessed March 2, 2013.
 –“ Desideratum” available at http://www.thefreedictionary.com/desideratum accessed March 2, 2013
 — “ Desideratum” available at http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/desideratum accessed March 2, 2013
 — “ Feminist” available at http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/feminist accessed March 2, 2013
Ibid. See also Hornby (n 48) 1430.
 — “Feminist” available at http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=feminist accessed March 2, 2013
 D. Peters, “Feminism and the institution of Polygamy: A Forward-Looking Approach,” in I.A. Ayua (ed), Nigerian Current Legal Problems 4 & 5 (1996-98) NIALS, 98.
— “First wave feminism” available at http://pers-www.wlv.ac.uk/~le1810/1stwave.htm Accessed March 30, 2013.
 E.g. Feminist Majority Foundation which has its peculiar aims and objectives which is among others to fight for equal rights for women and men. See Feminist Majority Foundation, “About Us” available at http://www.feminist.org/ accessed March 2, 2013
 B. Adeleye-Fayemi, ‘Creating a New World with New Visions: African Feminism and Trends in Global Women’s Movement’ in J. Kerr, E. Sprenger and A. Symington (eds), The Future of Women’s Rights (Zed Books Ltd, London 2004) p.43.
 — “Utopian” available at http://www.collinsdictionary.com/dictionary/english-thesaurus/utopian Accessed March 6, 2013
 — “Utopia” available at http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/utopia accessed March 6, 2013
 — “Utopian” available at http://grahams-random-ramblings.blogspot.com/2009/11/what-does-utopia-utopian-mean-origin.html?m=1 (Accessed March 20, 2013).
 Some complaints and agitations of women have not been seen as a struggle for ‘rights’ in the proper sense of the word. For example the Seneca Falls declaration of 1948 is often regarded as the declaration of “Sentiments”. See T. Harper, post for more on the declaration.
 E. Friedman, “Women’s Human Rights: The Emergence of a Movement” in J. Peters and D. Wolper (eds), Women’s Rights, Human rights (Routledge, New York 1995) p.19.
 See The Gideons International Inc., Holy Bible (The Gideons International Inc., Nashville 1980) p.180 Numbers 27 Verses 1-10.
 C. Lunardini, What Every American Should Know about Women’s History (Adams Media Corporation, Massachusetts 1997) p.8.
 Harper (n 33).
 ibid 210
 Prior to this time “women were regarded by some as too flighty or not smart enough or too concerned with taking care of their homes and families”. See Harper (n 33) 6.
 For Example in the case of Minor v Happersett, the United States Supreme Court decided that women as citizens are entitled to register and vote under the Fourteenth Amendment to the constitution. Harper (n 33) 212.
 Harper (n 33) 216.
 A. M. Imbornoni, “Women’s Rights Movement in the U.S.: Timeline of Key events in the American Women’s Right Movement (1848-1920)” available at http://www.infoplease.com/spot/womenstimeline1.html accessed September 23, 2012.
 For full story on the cause of the riot and the effect thereof see –“Aba Women’s Riots (November-December 1929)” available at http://rainqueensofafrica.com/2012/11/aba-womens-riots-november-december-1929/ accessed January 7, 2013
 For example the Hague Convention of 1902 dealt with issues of conflicts in National Laws on Marriage, Divorce and Guardianship of Minors; the 1904 and 1910 Conventions were adopted to combat trafficking in women. See U. M. Gasiokwu, Human Rights, History, Idealogy& Law (Fab Anieh (Nig.) Ltd, Nigeria 2003) p.13
 Signed at Versailles, June 28, 1919
 U. M. Gasiokwu, Human Rights, History, Idealogy& Law (Fab Anieh (Nig.) Ltd, Nigeria 2003) 13
 P. S, Wendel-Blunt, D and K. Ho, “Global Patterns in the achievement of Women’s Rights to Equality”, Human Rights Quarterly,19.4(1997) pp.813-835 at 814
 Z. Kedzia “United Nations Mechanisms To Promote and Protect Human Rights” in J. Symonides (ed.) Human Rights: International Protection, Monitoring, Enforcement (Ashgate Publishing Company, England 2003 ) p.22.
 Adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on December 10, 1948. Article 2 prohibits distinctions on the basis of sex among others.
 Equal Remuneration Convention, 1951 No.100 Adopted at Geneva in the 34th Session of ILC of June 29, 1951.
Ibid. See Articles 1 and 2 of the Convention.
 (No.111) Adopted at Geneva at the 42nd Session of ILC of 25th June 1958.
 Ibid. Articles 1 and 3 define discrimination and call on states parties to enact National laws to give effect to the Convention.
 J. Ezeilo “Genderizing the Judiciary in Commonwealth Africa for the 21st Century” in J. Ezeilo (Ed.) Compilation of International Human Rights Instruments and Articles on Women’s Rights (Women’s Aid Collective, Nigeria 2003) 21.
 For instance the International Conference of Women’s rights,1968;Mexico declaration,1975;CEDAW,1979;Nairobi Forward Looking Strategies,1985;Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action, 1993; Beijing Declaration of 1995 among others. See Ezeiloibid 21.
 S. Kelly, “Recent Gains and New Opportunities for Women’s Rights in the Gulf Arab States”, Available at http://www.freedomhouse.org/sites/default/files/Women’s%20Rights%20in%20the%20Middle%20East%20and%20Noth%20Africa,%20Gulf%20Edition.pdf accessed March 29, 2013.
 E.g. United Kingdom, Germany, France, Netherlands, Denmark, Switzerland, Ireland, Norway, Austria, Sweden, Hungary among others.
See J. Hamm, “Term Paper Resource Guide to Medieaval History” Available at shttp://books.google.com.ng/books?id=_IlusIXs7vsC&pg=PA337&lpg=PA337&dq=pisan+14th+century+women+debate&source=bl&ots=ngCEgqijZQ&sig=HlmKU6A_UHMeTd21HtOCLEpF940&hl=en&sa=X&ei=dmZYUcSoPOnO0QXn4oDIDw&ved=0CEwQ6AEwBQ#v=onepage&q=pisan%2014th%20century%20women%20debate&f=false. Accessed March 31,2013.
Her books such as City of Ladies (1405), Letters to Cupid (1405) in addition to several poems contain these facts.
S. Mercado and J. Young, “Women in European History” available
at http//historysage.com/jcms/images/stories/Euro-Pdfs/women (Accessed March 31, 2013).
B. A. Engel, Women in Russia 1700-2000 (Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 2004) 10-31 where the Author carefully discusses the evolution of women’s rights in Russia and the effort made by Peter The Great to develop women intellectually and politically. The four women who ascended the throne during the period were called Sophia, Catherine, Anne of Courland and Elizabeth.
 J. J. Lewis, Encyclopaedia of Women’s History available at http://womenshistory.about.com/library/ency/blwh_germany_women.htm accessed April 7, 2013 @ 2:45 PM.
Engel (n 93)
Equal Pay Act of United Kingdom, Passed on 29th May 1970.
See Sections 1 and 2 of SDA’75.
Signed in 1997 by the Foreign Ministers of the Countries that make up the Union and it entered into force in 1999 having met the requisite ratifications.
 –“Gender equality in the European Union” available at
http://www.gender-equality.webinfo.lt/results/european_union.htm Accessed September 5, 2013.
 See C. Fagan, J. Rubery and M. Smith: Women’s Employment in Europe: Trends and Prospects, e-book available at http://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=JHDhx1ajMmIC&oi=fnd&pg=PP1&dq=progress+on+women%27s+rights+in+europe&ots=tyJDEjH8Sz&sig=zuun7yHR6InKZNyXXKvKRSNeyRk#v=onepage&q=progress%20on%20women’s%20rights%20in%20europe&f=false accessed September 5, 2013 at 2.30 pm. See in Particular, European Council Resolution of 15 December 1997 on the 1998 Employment Guidelines (1997 Resolution) available at http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=CELEX:31998Y0128(01):EN:HTML accessed September 10, 2013.
Para.IV of the 1998 Employment Guidelines ibid.
J. R. Cook and M. F. Fathalla, “Advancing Reproductive Rights Beyond Cairo and Beijing,” International Family Planning Perspectives Vol. 22, No. 3.pp 115–121. Cite uses deprecated parameters (help);|accessdate= requires |url= (help)
 Some of the constituents of reproductive rights as it is known today were outright criminal acts in Europe. For example the Offences Against the Person Act passed by the parliament of UK in 1861 outlawed Abortion. Even some advocates of women’s rights in that era opposed abortion. See — “History of abortion” available at accessed December 28, 2013. However, as time progressed certain countries started passing legislations allowing limited abortion. For example Poland in 1932 and Iceland in 1935.