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International Journal of Advanced Engineering, Management and Science

Human Rights, Gender Equality, and the Question of Justice: A Re-Examination of Male Chauvinism in African Culture

( Vol-5,Issue-8,August 2019 )

Author(s): Rev. Fr. Dr. Hyginus Chibuike Ezebuilo

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Page No: 532-541
ijaems crossref doiDOI: 10.22161/ijaems.58.10


Africa, culture, gender, women, rights.


Traditional cultural practices reflect the values and beliefs held by members of a community for periods of time. Every social grouping in the world has specific traditional cultural practices and beliefs, some of which are beneficial to all members, while others have become harmful to a specific group, such as women. These harmful and, sometimes, discriminatory traditional practices include early and forced marriages, virginity testing, widow’s ritual, female genital mutilation, the primogeniture rule, and witch-hunting. Despite their harmful nature and their violation of national and international human rights laws, such practices persist because they are not questioned or challenged and therefore take on an aura of morality in the eyes of those practicing them. The purpose of this study is to discuss the impact of culture, tradition, customs, and law on gender equality in Africa. Applying the critical and analytic methods in philosophy, the study observes that law reform and development have traditionally focused on state legal institutions to the exclusion of customary legal system, and that where the courts had an opportunity to develop the customary legal system they either reinforced archaic customary laws or imposed Western ideology. This study further investigates, by means of interview in Nsukka part of Igbo-Africa, how ordinary men and women in Africa understand women’s right, and how their attitudes are tied to local conception of masculinity. The investigation reveals that a new configuration of gender relations is evident in Africa – one that accommodates some aspects of women’s rights while retaining previous notions of innate male authority. It concludes by showing that harmful traditional practices are unjust as they violate women’s human rights (guaranteed in the Constitution), perpetuate the inequalities between women and men, and contribute to extreme poverty that government should fight to eradicate. Man and woman have the same dignity and are of equal value ontologically, and as such, we recommend that different African societies should uphold this ontological equality and dignity while socially constructing gender.

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