Title: WOMEN EMPOWERMENT: Its Relation To National Development And Human Rights
Author: Adanna Chinedu Madu
Reviewer: Sylvia ThankGod Amadi
The latest work in the stable of Adanna Chinedu Madu’s collections, titled Women Empowerment: Its Relation to National Development and Human Rights, could best be described as a voice for a maginalised folk. The 209-page documentation with eight chapters basically chronicles the plight of the Trans-Saharan woman in general and the Nigerian woman in particular. It is, to say the least, a compendium of all the problems and inhibitions faced by the Nigerian women.
The writer in this emotion-laden write-up x-rays and presents in its raw nature, the typical rural woman encompassed with a lot of handicaps and yet saddled with a task to survive with limited assistance. The pictorial representation on the book-cover summarises it all.
Adanna Chinedu Madu brings her high profile and experience as a lawyer and human rights activist to bear on this book.
In her introduction, the writer traced her memory back to 1948 when the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted. She pointed out that ever since, there had been many formal commitment such as treaties, charters, conventions and protocols at the global and regional levels to affirm the inherent dignity, as well as the equal and inalienable rights of all human beings irrespective of sex, race or class. Among these are gender-specific protections, which advance the dignity of women and put them on an equal standing with other members of the human community before the law.
The Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and the protocol to the African Charter on the Rights of Women in Africa respectively represent such international and regional human rights standards that have been willingly accented to and ratified by our dear country, “Nigeria”
However, Madu is worried that amidst all these ratifications, their domestication have remained a far cry, hence gender-based discrimination persists in Nigeria. Women in Nigeria continue to suffer domestic violence, widowhood practices, inheritance and property rights violations, women trafficking, child-marriage, male child preference, denial of rights to control women fertility, female genital mutilation and differential opportunities in education, political participation and access to justice.
Madu’s credit rests on her ability to use facts and figures accurately. The authority she commands and the patience she exhibits in her presentation leaves no doubt in the mind of any reader that she is not only writing for an academic archive but also poses as a practical crusader and an emancipator of the down-trodden majority.
The case of Miss Okere and Mr. Abdul-Azeez who were assaulted by four Naval ratings on the 5th of November, 2008, for allegedly delaying them in traffic on Muri Okunola Street, Victoria Island, Lagos while on the convoy of a Rear Admiral, and which was judged by Justice Oke in the favour of the assaulted was not a Nollywood movie but a true story of how the downtrodden majority, especially women are being subjected to degradation and inhuman treatment.
So also, the forceful ejection of women Police married to civilians from Police barracks, an initiative of the Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Onovo through a letter dated December 15, 2009, which was later crippled following an order issued to the IGP by the House of Representatives in January 2009, to stop the ejection order, captures one of the travails of women in Nigeria.
The 209 page book also highlights some of the perceptions about women as: baby making machines, sex slaves, a folk inferior to men or second-class citizen. But the writer is of the opinion that women should vehemently refuse the place of the second-class citizen which the society has consciously placed them.
A thorough digest of this book leaves a picture of a woman troubled by her immediate environment, her religion, her culture and customs and even her own nature. The book also tells the story of how a woman is incapacitated by the conscious denial of obvious rights that would have otherwise assisted her to access her escape or breakthrough, and how Nigerian woman is eventually subjected and relegated to a mental arena of “cannot-help situation.” Even when the panacea to her situation is in sight, she lacks the will and courage to embrace it and bring about her eventual breakthrough.
However, the writer did not leave her audience without a hope. While she calls on the authorities that control the machinery of States to rise up to their responsibility and give credence to the resolutions of the afore-mentioned treaties which they were signatory to, by domesticating them, she dwells extensively on how victims of rights abuses can benefit from the new rules, even when they are too impecunious to hire the services of lawyers. She enjoins the oppressed women to take advantage of such facilities as the Lagos State Government’s office of the Public Defenders, Legal Aid Council, as well as free legal services of human rights organisations to seek redress in courts of law.
In all, working hard to bridge the wide gap between the Nigerian woman and her male counterpart is a cardinal issue in this book. Therefore, the author empirically states that “empowering women is integral and tantamount to the success and advancement of national development and human rights”.
The book is billed to be launched on November 25, 2010 in Port Harcourt by the Nigerian Bar Association, (NBA).