n Law, Democracy & Development - Development as a right in Africa : changing attitude for the realisation of women's substantive citizenship




Development has been a right in Africa since African leaders made the commitment thereto at the adoption of the African Charter on Human and People's Rights in 1981. Yet, in Africa, the majority of women cannot exercise citizenship rights because of the manner in which their society view them and, sometimes, even because of the way women view themselves. Development in critical aspects of the lives of the people is regarded as one of the envisaged products of constitutional democratic institutions. Women are at most times relegated to the status of "second class citizens" who only operate within the private spheres. While regional human rights instruments have made remarkable gains in ensuring that women within the region are protected, there is, however, a disconnect between the rights enshrined in the instruments and the daily reality of the majority of women. The majority of African countries are still far from creating an egalitarian society where men and women have equal opportunity and access to benefits. In this article, the authors argue that the conduct of governments in protecting the substantive rights of the majority of women in Africa is in total violation of domestic, regional and international law. Nigeria, for example, is committed to the protection of the human rights of all its citizens. However, citizenship rights in Nigeria do not seek to promote and protect the substantive rights of the majority of women. The implication is the complete erosion of dignity and fundamental rights. In other words, the majority of women lose the essence of the inherent membership of their society.


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