The Status of Women in Islam

J Badawi
2017 Al-Ittihad Journal of Islamic Studies   unpublished
There was a time when women were regarded as the slaves of men but that time has faded away. Women in most parts of the world are apparently measuring up to, or healthily competing with men in all fields of life, and are making progress. Human rights are not for men alone; they are inherent in women and should be enjoyed by them without discrimination. However despite significant achievements in the quest for women's equality and in particular the entry into force of the Convention on the
more » ... ention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, ensuring gender equality remains an enormous challenge. It is not just the ratification of treaties that guarantees gender equality but the transformation of entrenched or deep-rooted traditional practices that discriminate against women. This paper is a discourse on the development of human rights of women around the world, particularly in cultural settings in Nigeria. It seeks to reveal the actual state of women in the enjoyment of their human rights where entrenched cultural barriers serve as inducement for discrimination and how women in such milieux can be salvaged from their deplorable condition. A few recommendations are made and this brings the paper to conclusion. 1. Introduction Despite the fact that there has been ratification of most human rights treaties which protect and promote the human rights of women, there is still the subordination and violation of many women due to age-long cultural practices in Africa and other parts of the world. Women in some parts of the world, for instance in some cultural settings in Africa, are regarded as subservient to men and as such are relegated to the background. There are stereotype roles for women and men especially in family settings. These roles are inculcated in girls and boys either formally or informally from childhood. Several cultural practices are harmful to women with respect to their enjoyment of human rights, the lesser status ascribed to women by tradition and custom subject them to different forms of discrimination. Other than cultural practices, religion or certain religious beliefs have played contributory role in the subservient status assigned to women. Many of the cultural practices around the world are entrenched in religion thus, religion has further contributed towards the subordination of women. Hindu scriptures for instance, provide that women are powerless and have no inheritance. 2 Men must thus, make their women dependent day and night. Her father should guard her in childhood, her husband in her youth, and her sons in her old age because a woman is not fit for independence. 3 It further describes a good wife as a woman whose mind, speech and body are kept in subjection, and who acquires the same abode with her husband in the next world. 4 This paper is a discourse on the issue of human rights generally meant to be enjoyed by women; otherwise referred to as women's rights, historical development of women's rights, the issue of discrimination against women in the enjoyment of their human rights around the world and in Nigeria, 1
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