WOMEN RIGHTS ARE HUMAN RIGHTS (3): SOCIAL NORMS AND PRACTICES

The third area women are globally discriminated against is through social norms and practices. Through them women rights in Nigeria are denied because social norms determine gender expectations and shape people’s behaviours in the community. Noteworthy also is to state that cultural practices are determined by social norms. These norms are both “injunctive” and “descriptive” (Overseas Development Institute, 2015).

Injunctive norms are what people believe they and others are supposed to do while descriptive norms are what people actually do. In most societies in Nigeria, women are believed to be subservient to man. Married women, for instance, are supposed to obey their husbands without complaining. Even though most communities in the country believe that women should be dignified, social practices against women indicate that reverse is the case.In most communities in the country, female genital mutilation (FGM), early and/or forced marriage, widowhood rituals, dowry-related violence/practices, among others are some of the social practices that demonstrate that women are considered second-class citizens. FGM, for instance, is considered as a way of preventing promiscuous behaviours among women. This is why one in four women aged 15-49 has undergone FGM, and 48 percent of women aged 20-49 were married before the age of 18 (Veen, Verkade, Ukwuagu and Muriithi, 2018) in Nigeria.Most girls, especially in the Northern part of the country, are married off early against their wish. Education of these girls are perceived as a waste of resources since they will end up in the kitchen. This is why, according to a study, Kebbi, Sokoto, Bauchi, Jigawa, Yobe, Zamfara, Katsina, and Gombe states have Nigeria’s worst girl child education, highest female illiteracy, highest adolescent girl marriage, highest under 15 child bearing, and highest risk of maternal death and injury (cited in Premium Times, 13th October, 2013). Even though girl-child education is better in the southern Nigeria, it is not taken as serious as that of a male-child. Read more

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