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928 resources(s)

Gender Hub sources and selects hundreds of resources across a range of gender themes to help you get in the know. Our editorial team carefully summarises them so that we present you the latest evidence in a timely way.

The role of religious leaders in curbing the spread of HIV/AIDS in Nigeria

Publisher: The Southern African Legal Information Institute 2010
Author: O. Oluduro

Nigeria was one of the first developing countries to be hit by the HIV/AIDS epidemic; by 2007, approximately 2.6 million people were infected, and Nigeria joined countries like South Africa and India as those reporting the largest numbers of HIV/AIDS cases. The impact of the disease in what is a highly religious country has been phenomenal, and this journal article examines the response of Nigerian religious leaders to the challenge of HIV/AIDS, and the adequacy or otherwise of these responses. It also explores the ways in which religious leaders can effectively meet the challenges of a disease that is not only a health problem, but also a crisis that affects the social, economic, spiritual and political lives of the people in their own communities.

The article examines the literature to discuss several key aspects concerning the HIV/AIDS crisis, the challenges and needs of people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA), and the role of stakeholders including religious leaders and government. These aspects include: an explanation of why it is important to engage with religious leaders; their mixed response to HIV/AIDS; the role of religion and culture in exacerbating the pandemic; the prohibition on condom use by Catholic leaders; the success of education programmes through government and religious leader collaboration; the discrimination faced by PLWHA; and the counter-productive and non-evidence-based trend of some religious leaders to mandate pre-marriage testing, with subsequent refusal to marry in cases that return positive.

The article closes with a look at a way forward, with the author recommending that there should be regular trainings to educate religious leaders on HIV/AIDS prevention, as well as care and/or counselling, since many have no such training at all. Faith-based organisations can also support prevention and care through the distribution of up-to-date, accurate information in local languages on HIV/AIDS, while there is a need for religious leaders to use their spiritual or religious teachings to emphasise compassion, healing, and support for PLWHA. Religious leaders should be willing to channel some of their formidable resources, in the form of schools, clinics, hospitals, and orphanages, for HIV work, to help diagnose, treat, and support PLWHA, and to spread awareness and educate people on the nature and dangers of the disease. The author concludes by saying that religious leaders have a crucial role to play by using the trust and authority they have in their communities to help bring healing and hope to all who are affected by the HIVAIDS epidemic….

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Local power-sharing institutions and inter-religious violence in Nigeria

Publisher: Journal of Peace Research 2015
Author: J. B. Bunte

News reports of clashes between Muslims and Christians in countries such as Nigeria are increasingly common, yet clashes occur in some communities but not others. Under what conditions does religious identity become the fault line of communal violence? This paper argues that informal power-sharing institutions on the communal level are essential in shaping the incentives of potential perpetrators, and avoiding or reducing violence. Both qualitative and quantitative evidence is provided to back this claim, drawn from interviews with community leaders in 38 Nigerian districts, and complemented with quantitative analyses of a new dataset capturing inter-religious violence on a sub-national level. In conducting the research, the authors seek to trace the process by which local power-sharing institutions exert influence on actors’ incentives to engage in religious violence, and therefore increase our understanding and ability to reduce such violence in the future.

The analyses of the findings show that the overall degree of inter-religious violence is significantly lower in districts with power sharing than in those without. Two causal mechanisms are identified through which informal power-sharing institutions operate. First, such institutions affect the incentives of elites to appeal for cooperation, with power-sharing shown to elicit significantly more conciliatory rhetoric from leaders. Second, power-sharing affects the general population’s perception of the inter-religious tensions, with individuals living in districts with power-sharing institutions less likely to experience religious diversity as threatening. The author therefore concludes that local-level and informal power-sharing institutions are an important foundation for communal peace and inter-religious cooperation, and a deterrent to violent…

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‘Woman, but not human’: widowhood practices and human rights violations in Nigeria

Publisher: Civilistica 2013
Author: E. Durojaye

Across the world gender inequality remains the norm, and women have continued to encounter discriminatory practices as a result of religious and cultural practices. This article examines a particular example present across Africa: harmful widowhood practices justified by superstitious beliefs and culturally-derived expectations. The article provides a historical perspective to the practising of such rituals, the various justifications deployed, and the implications to women’s fundamental human rights and freedoms in Nigeria.

Next, the author discusses the effects of socio-cultural and legal structures on gender equality, arguing that the plural legal system in the country, which encourages the application of statutory law side by side with customary law, can act to undermine women’s fundamental rights. The article then outlines in-depth the specific human rights of women threatened by widowhood practices, in particular the rights to dignity, equality, and non-discrimination.

The author argues that widowhood practices have continued to perpetuate the subordinate position of Nigerian women. Moreover, widowhood practices are a violation of women’s rights to dignity and non-discrimination as guaranteed in the Nigerian Constitution. Given that Nigeria has ratified international and regional human rights instruments that prohibit discrimination against women, it is imperative that the government adopts the appropriate steps and measures to address cultural practices that continue to discriminate against women.

In conclusion, the situation demands that the Nigerian government initiate a comprehensive, holistic set of legal and social reforms that responds to the needs of women, including the immediate abolition of harmful cultural practices that continue to perpetuate the inferior status of widows in society. Moreover, the government must enact laws that promote gender equality and protect women from all discriminatory practices in general. Such efforts will need to be complemented by education and awareness campaigns and programmes targeted at correcting stereotypical attitudes towards women….

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An Islamic perspective on gender issues and women’s rights in Nigeria

Publisher: Journal of Education and Social Sciences 2016
Author: S. B. Saraju

The modern world is a competitive and demanding place, regardless of gender. Yet for women, especially Nigerian women, long-running agitation for gender equality has thus far failed to lift women from a role likened in this paper to societal enslavement. To help understand why, the paper examines the situation of Nigerian women in their bids to survive, delving into the rights of women and gender issues within the Islamic context, and exploring the implications this lived experience might have on the Nigerian women. Scripture and religious interpretation amicable to the attainment of equal rights for women are presented, concerning topics including education, and economic, social, and political rights.

The paper revealed that Nigerian women are not only maltreated but also misused and mismanaged. It is however important to note that it is not Islam in and of itself that has enslaved women; rather, it can help to liberate them by appreciating their nature and treating them accordingly. Islam is distinct from the attitudes of some Muslims who are violating the Shari‘ah assigned rights of women. If used correctly and justly, Islamic guidelines can act to restore women’s divine rights and protect their dignity in a way that both pre-dates, and is compatible with, contemporary feminism. The paper concludes by suggesting the application of the aforementioned Islamic guidelines on gender issues and women’s rights as a way to boost and enhance the status of the Nigerian women….

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Effects of gender based discriminatory practices on poverty reduction and women empowerment in Ngor-Okpala area of Imo State, Nigeria.

Publisher: International Journal of Development and Emerging Economics 2015
Author: N. O. Anyoha

In south-western Nigeria, a number of traditional and social beliefs and norms work to inhibit women’s participation in agricultural activities. As in many places throughout Africa, there has traditionally been a strict gendered division of labour in agriculture, with many communities regarding women as being responsible for crops marked for family consumption. This study assessed the effect of gender-based discriminatory practices on poverty reduction and women empowerment in Ngor Okpala Local Government Area of Imo State, Nigeria. It was designed to assess the socio-economic characteristics of the respondents, identify the activities performed by men, women and both in agriculture in the area, the constraints posed by traditional beliefs and practices on women farmers, and the productivity level of the respondents. 120 female respondents were randomly selected from twelve communities to answers a questionnaire, with responses analysed using frequency distribution, percentage and mean.

The results showed that women are being discriminated upon in decision making, education, inheritance, and employment, and that some of these discriminations are caused by cultural and religious laws restricting women from fulfilling their potential. Discrimination of women leads to increased poverty levels, as well as psychological impacts such as low self-esteem and lack of confidence. Subsequently, this then impacts the effectiveness of poverty reduction and woman empowerment efforts. Based on the major findings, the following recommendations were made: cultural and religious laws should be restructured to suit modern day society; equal educational opportunities should be provided to women; skill training facilities should be provided to empower women; government should formulate policies that allows for equal rights in inheritance, especially land; and women should be given equal rights and power in…

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The impact of Islam as a religion and Muslim women on gender equality: a phenomenological research study

Publisher: Graduate School of Humanities and Social Sciences, Nova Southeastern University 2014
Author: S. D. Galloway

Throughout recorded history, women have been dehumanised, subjugated, and silenced. Although progress is occurring, this story is still true to too many women, especially in the developing world. Half a billion Muslim women inhabit approximately forty-five Muslim majority countries, with another thirty or more countries with significant Muslim minorities, including in the West. Some Muslim women find themselves under extremely conservative, patriarchal systems that embrace Islam and Shari’a in its most reactionary form regarding Muslim women, e.g., Iran, Sudan, and Northern Nigeria. In response, Muslim women are striving not just for basic human rights, but are using Islam to demand gender equality via a more liberal reading of the Holy Qur’an and Islamic jurisprudence, new civil liberties, and new relationships to the outside world.

The purpose of this phenomenological research study is to provide a detailed and comprehensive description of how Muslim women around the world use Islam to promote gender equality and improve their treatment within their daily lives. The study also seeks to advance knowledge of how Islam, as a religion, can promote gender equality via an Islamic theology (Kalam) framework, which is also used for this study. Kalam recognises biological differences between men and women and extols motherhood, but also says that biology does not equal destiny. Additionally, this research study further addresses the effects Islam will have on future gender relations between Muslim men and Muslim women within patriarchal, gender-based regimes. The anticipated results may also be useful in improving gender relations within Islam by serving as a roadmap to resolving conflict between Muslim women, and Islamic clerics and scholars.

The study took a qualitative phenomenology research approach, with data collected from observations and semi-structured individual interviews and transcriptions from participants from diverse geographical locations, educational levels, sects, socio-economic backgrounds, and nationalities. Additionally, a significant literature review introduces and discusses key concepts and issues, and provides material for context and analysis. Inductive analysis allowed for the emergence of themes in relation to Muslim women and gender equality within Islam, while an Islamic theoretical (Kalam) model provided a conceptual framework for the study, allowing participants to discuss acquiring and/or achieving gender equality within Islam without separating their religion from their respective traditions and cultures.

A number of significant themes emerged from the research that helped to illustrate how Muslim women can employ Islam to promote gender equality while improving their lives, all of which are discussed in-depth alongside transcripts of the participants own words. The eleven themes identified were: religious consciousness; Islam as a religion; Islamic tenets and principles; gender equality, which a majority of participants considered to be promoted by Islam; Islamic covering of women; religious activities; the role of Muslim women; the public and private treatment of Muslim women; the difference between being a Muslim women in the West, as opposed to living in a majority Muslim country; Islamic fundamentalism, and the negative connotations toward it revealed by participants; and finally voice and expectations, in which participants expressed varying expectations for Muslim women, with culture and tradition largely dictating the views of women in their various and diverse geographical locations….

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Traditional beliefs and practices of women involvement in agricultural activities in south-western Nigeria

Publisher: Sky Journal of Agricultural Research 2014
Author: O. M. Apata

The position of rural women in terms of their lack of involvement in traditional belief systems, and the social norms this creates and reinforces, helps to disallow most women from participating in some agricultural activities in south-western Nigeria. As in many places across Africa, there has been a strict division and demarcation terms of labour used by gender in agriculture, and as a major employment sector, this has contributed to women lagging behind men in most indicators of socio- economic development. This study, conducted among rural communities in Ekiti and Ogun States, was designed to asses the socio-economic characteristics of the respondents (102 in total), identify which activities were performed by men, women, or both in agriculture, highlight the constraints posed by traditional beliefs and practices on women farmers, and also the productivity level of the respondents.

Primary data were collected through the use of well structured interview schedule, and descriptive statistics such as percentages and frequency distribution were used to analyse the resulting qualitative data. A regression model was then employed to test for the existence of any relationship between the socio-economic characteristics of the respondents and their productivity. The study revealed that women participate in most of the agricultural activities, combining them with other income generating activities and the upkeep of their families. It was found that gender, religion and farming experience all affect the productivity of farmers in the study area: men and Muslims show higher productivity, reflecting a greater level to access to production inputs, while farming experience correlated strongly with higher productivity. Most of the respondents identified input accessibility, land acquisition, and cultural beliefs as major constraints to women’s participation in agricultural activities….

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Gender equity and empowerment in African public theology: the case of the Circle of Concerned African Women Theologians

Publisher: IWTF Gender and Religion 2015
Author: P. N. Mwaura

Delivered as part of the annual series of Hendrik Kraemer Lectures, this year organised around the theme ‘Gender equity and empowerment in African public theology’, this lecture by Philomena Njeri Mwaura is inspired by the work and writings of the Circle of Concerned African Women Theologians (CCAWT), and what ordinary African women are doing as agents of transformation in their churches and communities. The key focus of this Lecture is in the contextual theological appraisal of specific aspects of human capability development, and how this can offer both church and society a framework through which they can engage in their pursuit of gender justice and quality of life for all especially for women and girls.

The lecture begins by exploring the context in which African women live, their responses to the various challenges they experience, and how African women theologians respond to this context through theological reflection. This is achieved through reference to existing literature, with quotes from women theologians in Africa serving to attest to the significant role of women in the development of church and society. Topics discussed include: the contemporary social and religious context in Africa, with the rapid spread and increasing diversity of Christianity in Africa; African women’s responses to the challenges this context represents, including the male dominated hierarchy of Christian churches and the burden placed on women to maintain the family in turbulent social and economic times; and African women theologians responses and concerns resulting from the conflict between their feminist theological interpretations, and the legacy of imperialism and paternalism.

The lecture then moves on to discuss the nature and characteristics of African women’s theologies as embodied by the CCAWT, and how they differ to more traditional, orthodox, or western teachings. African women’s theology is regarded as being narrative-based, with story-telling utilised to educate and inform. Secondly, they are theologies of relations, not simply between men and women, families, and communities, but extending to nature itself; African women’s theologies are ecologically-sensitive. Thirdly, they are explicitly contextual, meaning that their beliefs arise from their context, informed by women’s struggles and exclusion, to include an inherently liberation-based theology that extends to all marginalised and impacted groups.

A critique of African women’s theologies is then offered, with the suggestion that to-date, too much focus has been placed on the private sphere, and neglecting the fact that much of women’s experiences of marginalisation and vulnerability has been shaped by the public arena of politics, law, economics and social policies. Additionally, they have failed to adequately and consciously deal with the issue that women experience vulnerability outside the church too, requiring wider engagement with systems that dehumanise and harm women.

The lecture concludes by proposing a strategy for evolving a public theology in a way that recognises and utilises women’s capacities. This will require dialogue with male scholars, and recognition that theology must be open and public, rather than cloistered away from view. The author suggests that an African women’s public theology needs to utilise the human capability framework as a secular theoretical framework, in conjunction with theological principles of the common good and God’s purpose for creation, for assessing the quality of life of women in Africa, as well as to act as a basis for calling the church, government and society into action….

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Gender victimization: a study of widowhood practices among Ogu people of Lagos

Publisher: SAGE 2014
Author: J. O. Ayodele

Badagry was the first community to receive the Christian religion in Nigeria, yet its coming into early contact with the missionaries has not translated into Ogu people acquiring a healthier understanding of fair play in the context of widowhood practices. Despite the overwhelming presence of Christian relics in the ancient town of Badagry, traditional customs such as wife inheritance and widowhood rites have continued to appear significantly associated with violence, against which women are not well-protected. It is against this background that this article uses the experiences of the Ogu people of Nigeria to answer the following questions: what are the different widowhood practices among the Ogu women in Lagos, Nigeria? To what extent do these widowhood practices criminally affect widows? And how best can women trapped in widowhood regain the control of their lives?

Quantitative and qualitative methods were adopted for the study, including questionnaires, five in-depth interviews, and three focus group discussions to collect primary data, which were used to complement quantitative data. 220 Ogu men and women were randomly selected to participate in the study, covering a range of socio-economic positions. Of the 220 participants, only 83.3% averred that they were indeed Ogu people, with 12.4% identifying as Yoruba people. This may indicate slight cultural conflict between the majority Ogu, who assert ethnic independence, and the minority who identify with mainstream Yoruba culture. This is pertinent to the question of widowhood practices as the Yoruba traditionally believe more in fairness in such matters.

The study found that although the Ogu people of Lagos acknowledge the position of the scriptures on society’s non-criminal relation with widows, they still believe that their culture comfortably drives the greater proportion of their widow-friendly interactions. This tallies with the authors conclusions that harmful widowhood practices are not an African issue per se, but instead reflect the way in which European colonial cultures treated their widows. This study suggests that the adoption of African centred cultural best practices in handling widows will tone down violence in customary widowhood practices that are inimical to widows’ interests, such as those that commodify women, regard widows as part of their deceased husbands’ inheritable property, and exploit them for gainful use.

Flowing from the study, the following recommendations are suggested to reduce the incidence and intensity of widowhood practices among the Ogu people of Lagos, and African widows elsewhere:

  • Governments should strengthen the policy framework for the elimination of violence against widows through laws providing for gender equality in inheritance matters.

  • Education should be used to refine African tradition, remove harmful practices, and develop a personality that is truly and traditionally unique, and that connects with the realities of the African people.

  • Men should use traditional methods to prevent disruption to fragile networks of customary relationships after their death. This does not have to take the European outlook.

  • Governments should criminalise any attempt by someone or group of people to force another person to experience any harmful widowhood practices.

  • African widows should take advantage of contemporary support networks to activate their human potential, and access community-based support resources for self-development.  …

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Muslim women’s rights in Northern Nigeria

Publisher: Wilson Center 2014
Author: O. Vaughan

The complexity of the Nigerian Shari’a crisis reveals many contending perspectives, thoughts, and debates on governance and politics in contemporary Nigerian society, even among Northern Nigerian Muslims themselves. This publication by the Wilson Centre provides a brief overview of how historical, social, political, and religious issues in Nigeria interlock, and how they influence the formulation and implementation of policies regarding gender and Islam in Northern Nigeria. The author begins all the way back in 1804, describing how Northern Nigeria was a region comprised of Hausa city-states before Islamic scholar Usman dan Fodio led a successful Fulani-jihad which incorporated the region into a wider Islamic empire. With the coming of British colonial rule, Islamic traditions were cemented within the region’s culture, with missionaries banned from entering.

The paper then highlights how the feminism and organisation of women present in the region today can be dated back to pre-caliphate times, and how the struggle to combine their numerous identities – female, Muslim, Hausa-Fulani, and Nigerian – within the constraints of a deeply patriarchal society led to a splintering in the movement. Following the historical context, the brief then discusses the political and constitutional crisis which has resulted from Northern Nigeria states pushing for expanded Shari’a law in 1999, and its implications for women’s rights. Most immediately, the implications included the regional passing of new Islamic laws undermining women’s rights, which is an essential engine for Nigeria’s development, governance and democracy. Additionally, the interpretation and implementation of Shari’a law is currently in the hands of a few male scholars and religious leaders, but the potential for multiple- and re-interpretations of scripture is a potential benefit, and one which women’s groups have been utilising in their quest against gender-based injustices.

The brief concludes that the present mix of traditional Hausa culture, conservative Islamic values, and progressive western beliefs has led to an innovative women’s rights movement tackling the problem of a ‘clash of civilisations’ on a small, but vitally important, scale. If the movement progresses, it may be a model of interest for policy makers who struggle to bridge the gap between different cultures to create institutions that are respectful of differences in beliefs, while also protecting human rights. At the very least, progress by northern Muslim women’s rights movements is a crucial weapon in the fight against terrorism and conflict in Northern Nigeria. The women behind the struggle, historically as well as today, deserve to be recognised and commended for their efforts. Any sustained progressive promotion of the full citizenship rights of women and girls in Northern Nigeria must not only insist on universal and free primary education system, but must further support and empower these imaginative Northern Nigerian Muslim women’s…

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