This research is entitled “A Study of Domestic Implementation in Nigeria of the Concept of Gender Equality Under International Law”. The Research started by way of introduction by explaining that the Nigerian societies are patriarchal in nature. The researchstudied domestic implementation in Nigeria of the concept of gender equality under international law. The sources of information used in this research are relevant justification of this research is that despite the availability of the various laws at the different levels (that is international, regional and domestic) there still exist to a large degree of unequal treatment between the female and male in the society. In the light of this, the objective of this research is to identify the adequacy as it is. Thus, in the course of this research, it was found (among others) that failure women (CEDAW) as principal instrument on this subject matter necessitated the wrong practice as it is. Finally, this research was concluded by recommending that domestication of CEDAW a necessity for the government and other relevant stakeholders as a basis for combating inequity in Nigeria.
1.1 Background to the Study
Nigeria society like most societies in the world is patrilineal and patriarchal. Although, the level of this patriarchy may differ in relative terms from Nigeria one community to another. The question of the “universal” (equal) or „relative‟ (contingent) character of the rights declared in the major instruments of the human rights movement has been a source of debate and advocacy from the beginning when the movement‟s started. The contest between these positions look on renewed vigour as human rights movement slowly developed and reneged on making specific provision on gender issues.1 There have also been diverging theories on the sovereign autonomy of a state to follow it own paths in this matter. For example, the universal theory of human rights claims that the rights to equality and equity enshrines in international treaties must be applicable all over the world in the various domiciliary legal system, even in societies that are fundamentally cultural, religious and or customary.2 In those arguably patriarchal societies such as Nigeria (and in sub-Saharan African in general), laws, rooted in customs and traditions often discriminate against women.3
These discriminatory trends against Nigerian and African women are violations of the fundamental human rights against discrimination, a right recognized in a number of core international human rights instrument. The status accorded to women relative to men is a low one. Such status difference almost and or always translates into unequal recognition and
treatment of the two sexes in various ways. Quite often, this inherent prejudice has meant discrimination and disadvantages against women in various spheres of human endeavours.
The Nigerian communities being patriarchal societies believe that the traditional role of a woman is that of a child bearer, home keeper, comforter, and food provider for husband, children and at large presupposes that the propagations of the male as the superior sex for purpose of politics, participation and power relation including family and social decision making. Nigerian women constitute the majority of the peasant labour force in agricultural sector, while most of the others occupy bottom of occupational ladder and continue to channel into services and domestic occupation.Politically, Nigerian women are negligible and undermined force with little political involvement.4
In most Nigerian communities, women have no right to land, inheritance of family property and equal opportunity. For instance, some Igbo customary law rules carry the practice further that, when a father or a husband dies, it is purported that only the son(s) have the right to inherit him while the daughter(s) and wives are treated as some forms of chattel.5Whileunder Islamic law, a daughter or wife is given the right to inherit her father or husband but her share of the inheritance is half of her male counterpart.6
It should be noted at this juncture that the rights given to Nigerian women had been properly examined in the decided case of OnyiborAnekwe and Anor vs. Mrs. Maria Nweke7 where the Supreme Court held that Nigerian customs which disinherit women are repugnant to natural justice, equity and good conscience and should therefore not be allowed to stand.
Supreme Courtalso held in the case of Uko vs. Iro8 that any law or custom that seek to relegate women to the status of a second class citizen, thus depriving them of their invaluable and constitutionally guaranteed rights are laws and customs fit for the garage and should be consigned to the dustbin of history.
On the international scene, gender equality is also on the increase.By virtue of such increase in awareness and campaign in realizing or bridging the gap between the two sexes,many conventions and treaties were drafted, enacted and adopted by various international organizations and countries respectively. These international convention and treaties include Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) to mention but a few. It is of great importance to state that Nigeria is signatory to virtually all international instruments that encourage equality between the two sexes.
Despite the fact that Nigeria took a bold step in the year 2006 when it adopted and passed that Nigeria Policy on women,there are still questions on whether the prominence and the proliferation of human rights laws in Nigeria have achieved the desired level of gender justice and equity that is the balanced protection, participation, respect and fulfillment of the fundamental human rights of women in Nigeria and the implementation of the international instruments. Thus, it is against this background of inequity that this research works sets out to examine the legal regime for the concept of gender equality in international law in relation to its domestic implementation in Nigeria and proffer solution and suggestion on how the implementation of the international instrument will be fully realized.