Patriarchy and colonization: The "brooder house" for gender inequality in Nigeria
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The battle for women’s suffrage at English Parliament in 1866 marked the earliest recorded legal battle for equality between men and women. Since then, the issue of gender equality has grown to become a global concern. While it is generally agreed that human rights apply to all human beings (men and women included), women’s fundamental rights and freedom have been limited by patriarchal practices and traditions. The situation is worse in many African societies where colonial legacies and patriarchal culture assign superior roles to men and subordinate roles to women. In Nigeria, these practices have reduced the status of women to be inferior to their male counterparts. This in turn makes it difficult for women to fully participate in as many social, political, and economic activities as men do. Patriarchal culture has brought tremendous setbacks for women in Nigeria, which is the focus of this paper. In addition, stereotyping and stratification of jobs, skills, political offices and businesses have become so deep-rooted in patriarchy because of the cultures and ideologies of the society. This began with the traditional gender roles in the pre-colonial era and was reinforced during the colonial era when women were forced out of commercial farming and trading to do food-crop farming and petty trading, which both bring in less money. Presently, this practice keeps women under glass ceilings and in low paying jobs, which contributes largely to most Nigerian women being in poverty, experiencing poor health, and suffering from various abuse due to the inequality of social status between genders. Therefore, this paper critically discusses the historical perspective and analyzes how colonial legacies and patriarchy are nurturing gender inequality in Nigeria using hegemonic and Nigerian masculinity as the theoretical frame work of analysis.