CHAPTER ONE GENERAL INTRODUCTION
BACKGROUND TO STUDY
Women are connected to other human beings through the biologically based activities of pregnancy, breast-feeding and heterosexual intercourse¹. However, throughout history, women have had to struggle against direct and indirect barriers to their self-development and their full participation in social, political, economic and cultural activities of different societies.
Discrimination against women starts at birth, in the discriminatory practice of ‘son preference’. A leading Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) in Nigeria, the Civil Resources Development and Documentation Centre (CIRDDOC)² describes it as: “the practice whereby the male child is given preferential treatment over the female child. The male child gets all the attention, with time he is the one sent to school, while the girl child remains at home”
- CIRDDOC, based in Enugu Eastern Nigeria; is one of the many NGO’s active in the field of advancement and protection of woman rights in Nigeria.
- CIRDDOC Public Education Series No. 12 (2002): Tribunal on Violations of Human Rights in Nigeria, P.14
Some Igbo customary law rules carry the practice further; when a father dies, they purport that it is only the son (s) that can inherit, the daughter(s) are treated as some form of chattel4:
On the international stage, discrimination against women has been noted and acknowledged. Thus, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the United Nations in 1948 asserts in its preamble, the “inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights to all members of the human family”5
As such, women human rights have been described both as rights that women have by virtue of being human, and as rights specific to women. It is therefore worth noting that in some circumstances, women suffer human rights abuses in a specific form, related to their being females. 6
The assertion of rights presume their existing or probable violation and a desire to remedy or prevent violation7. As these rights relate to women, they have given rise to gender studies, women movements and the concept of feminism.