Reducing Gender Discrimination and Violence against Women through Library and Information Services

Article excerpt

Introduction

Gender discrimination and violence against women are global phenomena as old as human history. Women's rights are the freedom and entitlement of women of human rights without discrimination or violation. Women's rights are rights inherent in nature and guaranteed by law. Therefore g,ender discrimination and violence against women are contrary to fundamental human rights, equity, natural justice and good governance. Reconstructing women's rights, gender discrimination and violence through library and information services deliveryis aimed at making information available to all this topical issue. In human rights issues availability and access to information on the nature of women's rights and dimensions of gender discrimination and violence can never be more appropriate than now.

The slogan "Women's Rights are Human Rights" adopted at the World Conference on Human Rights in Vienna in 1993 and the Declaration on the Elimination of Violence Against Women by the General Assembly the same year further demonstrate the increasing awareness and the attention being paid to the respect of the right of women. It is pertinent and timely to identify that the values placed on women and the girl child by the society has overbearing impact on their life and the human development Women's rights around the world are important indicators to understand global well-being. Yet, despite many successes in empowering women, numerous issues still exist in all areas of life, ranging from the cultural, political to the economic. For example, women often work more than men, yet are paid less; gender discrimination affects girls and women throughout their lifetime; and women and girls are often the ones that suffer the most poverty.

The vulnerability of Nigerian women is an incontestable fact despite the ratification by Nigeria of a number of international standards which sanction gender discrimination and inequality. Among such standards are the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), the International Convention on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and the commitment of the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, China (Onyegu and Essiet, 2002). Women and the girl-child still have unequal access to education, healthcare, adequate housing and employment. Traditional cultural practices and beliefs prevalent in the Nigerian society are equally responsible for this. Among the practices and belief under reference are male-child preference, denial of women of the right to own and inherit property, child and early marriages and female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM). As harmful to women as these practices by those who practice them or subscribed to their practice; matters are not helped by the ignorance of women about their basic rights. This ignorance makes it impossible for them to question the rationality of these beliefs and practices and consciously and unconsciously they endorse their perpetuation and ultimately the infringement of their economic and social and cultural rights (Onyegu and Essiet, 2002; Lockwood, 2006).

Definitive Approach

The term "women's rights" refers to freedom and entitlements of women and girls of all ages. These liberties are grouped together and differentiated from broader notions of human rights,(Hosken,1981; Wikipedia, 2010) Article 1 of CEDAW defines discrimination against women as "any distinction, exclusion or restriction made on the basis of sex which has the effect or purpose of impairing or nullifying 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, economic, social, cultural or any other field." Violence on the other hand is defined as the intentional use of physical force or power, threatened or actual, against oneself, another person, or against a group or community that either results in or has a high likelihood of resulting in injury, death, psychological harm, maldevelopment or deprivation (WHO, 2002). …