An Evaluation of Beijing 1995 on the Appointments and Promotions of Nigerian Women to Decision-Making Positions

Article excerpt

Before the International Women Conference held in Beijing in 1995, Nigerian women were denied access to education and meaningful contribution to national development. The Nigerian women were stalled by culture, which made them vulnerable when they came forward to join work force. They were denied access to education because the traditional men and women believed that it would make women proud, arrogant, independent and disobedient to their husbands (Ifedili.1997). This in summary would bring marital disharmony because women were supposed to obey their husbands and take care of them and their children. Men were highly favoured by culture. The widows were highly maltreated by the in-laws. There was female circumcision and genital mutilation etc Winful (2001) as a Guest Speaker at the Seminar/Luncheon for women and professionals, defended the men folk by saying

"All obnoxious laws like female circumcision/genital mutilation, maltreatment of widows etc. are being carried out against women by women".

In response to that, some participants at the Seminar stated that a woman would not intentionally maltreat another woman, but the point was that cultural and traditional values must be fulfilled.

Goliber (1997) described the status of women in Africa of which Nigerian women were part of thus:

"African women have had major responsibilities in Agricultural production. Nonetheless, their primary roles are those of wife and mother Women often have limited rights and are expected to be subordinate to males in household and personal decision making and have limited opportunities outside the family".

Before the international conference, Nigerian women were always seen as docile beings who were completely dependent on their husbands. This was confirmed by Agbese (2000) when he states:

"The picture of a Nigerian woman as a docile being, forever looking up to, obedient and dependent on her man, is a false picture of Nigerian women, created and sustained by Nigerian men for purposes. The Nigerian women appreciates the undeniable fact that women have a role outside kitchen too as in meaningful contribution to social, economic and political development of Nigerian society".

The importance of Nigerian women in the development of Nigeria is not disputable yet it is treated with less regard when it comes to the point of utilizing the women in the decision-making positions. The awareness of the importance was further enhanced in 1995 as a result of the effective participation of Nigerian women in the international conference on women in Beijing, China. The Beijing declaration of 1995 states:

"Women's empowerment and their full participation on the basis of equality in all spheres of society, including participation in decision-making process and access to power, were fundamental for the advancement of equality, development and peace".

The international instruments and regulations recommended a 30% benchmark, for women in decision making by the year 2000AD of which Nigeria is a signatory.

Since the Beijing conference, some empowered Nigerian women have been snuggling for equal opportunities with men but have met with so many problems. These problems were government inability to entrench the equal opportunity into law; the reluctance of many women to aspire; the resistance of men to women advancing; some obnoxious cultures which needed to be changed; the ignorance of some traditionalists with regard to benefits in educating women; the stereotypes about women; women pulling other women who made themselves available backwards through their criticism because of lack of awareness

Nigeria can be considered a "man's world" because of the traditional culture, which favoured them to the detriment of their female counterparts. Awanbor (1998), a male Professor in the Nigerian University, stated that a change of attitude of the society was most desirable, especially to remove the chauvinistic tendencies in them and begin to recognize women's potentials and above all, give them a fair chance. …