WOMEN’S RIGHTS ARE HUMAN RIGHTS: WOMEN ARE ALSO RIGHTS HOLDERS
All human beings are born with human rights. Human rights are not something men give to women, neither are they something the richer gives to the poorer. Human Rights are not exclusives of a select few. Neither is it given to others as a mere favour or gifts. Human rights belong to everybody equally. Human Rights belong to women, men, boys / girls and disabled persons alike, whether we live in a developed or less developed world. Human Rights apply to every human being immediately the person is born. It applies to all age groups and to all class of persons. There is no particular stage in one’s life when one begins to get entitled to human rights. Human Rights do not magically begin with the drafting of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, nor the Convention on the Rights of the Child. It does not begin with drafting of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. In fact, it does not start with the drafting, signing or ratification of none of the Nine (9) UN International Human Rights Treaties or the International Bill of Human Rights. Human Rights have been there in the hearts of men before law makers started drafting the bills.
The UN in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights recognizes the inherent dignity, equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family as the foundation of freedom, justice and peace. In that vein, women and girls equally have right by virtue of being born. Human rights are inalienable, inherent and non-transferable. Every person is a right holder!
Studies have shown that everywhere in the world, there is war on women. The war on women emanates from barriers created by cultures; the war emanates from and feeds on Patriarchy, which is institutionalised in the societies. Patriarchy institutes inequality between man and woman. Inequality promotes the war on women; it places women at disadvantageous positions. The war takes place regardless of the geographical differences and diversities in the world’s cultures and societies. Women’s human rights are violated and the violation of women’s human rights stands out the same all over. Studies have shown that most of the violations of women's rights take place in the immediate families and environments. All around the world Patriarchal structures perpetuate and promote gender inequalities. Men, even though most times are aware that women are discriminated against, advance the war on women because they gain from POWER bestowed on them by patriarchy. In Africa, it is abominable for a woman to own property when she too, is the major property of a man. In Africa children must bear the father’s name and never the mother’s. A woman has no claim on her own children in the event of divorce. In Saudi Arabia, it is unthinkable for a woman to drive a car, not to talk of venturing into some professions such as law; in Korea women were instruments of comfort to soldiers in times of war at the detriment of women’s own comfort. In France, a woman dare not think of receiving equal pay with a man in the same job. No matter where the story is told, the commonality is that women face discriminations and inequalities on the basis of gender. From the developed to the developing societies, women are always pushed down by patriarchal structures. The structures result in instituted inequality hence creates imbalance in power relations. It thus goes without saying that in both public and private spheres; women’s rights are never respected and therefore are hardly regarded as human rights.
Upon the glaring fundamentals which basically subject women to abuse and degradation, it is disheartening to encounter some women who hardly appreciate nor accept that women are in subjection. Such group of women think that the status of discrimination and inequality faced by women are normal. They never know that women are also rights holder. They never imagine that another world where women’s rights are respected could be possible.
Women need information on Human Rights so as to be equipped with the knowledge that will enable them demand for their rights as humans. Knowledge of HR will assist in changing the status of discrimination and inequality. It will gradually break down the patriarchal structures. Through human rights education, women the world could be made to realize that every single woman (no matter how comfortable she thinks she is) faces discrimination. Women need to personally and collectively accept that there is a war on them. The war on women is the commonality that unites women the world over and this should be seen as a uniting force. This commonality holds together the educationally deprived girl-child with the battered house wife. It unites the economically deprived young woman with the property denied and poverty-stricken old woman. It unites the unequally treated disabled woman with the politically denied, neglected and disenfranchised indigenous woman. Human rights belong to each of us equally; we the world’s women are also rights holders!