Law is an institutional framework for organising the affairs of a society and, in the case of Nigeria in a framework of ordered liberty for persons and governmental structures. Religion appears to be not only this but also, a potential multi-faceted institutional framework for the ordering of diverse human affairs and relations. Despite the now accepted convergence of law and religion in methodological and operational domains, in the case of Nigeria, the boundaries of religion may not quite fit the modern acceptable definition of ordered liberty for persons and structure.
Law and religion share the close attribute of operating within a domain of persons- the one within delineated bounds and the other in loose amphibious seamlessness, unless consciously reined in. They also bear close resemblance not only in the profound manner in which they have impacted humankind but also in their methodology of operation; however, Law appears to have been more consistent in its objective and capacity to provide a more secured window for peaceful ordering of the affairs of humankind for co-existence. In this sense, it is internally equipped and externally operative to rein in the amphibiousness of religion. The utilisation of law as a way of engaging positive aspects of religions is therefore worth pursuing.
In Nigeria, women are the main nucleus of religion as they have always been through times. Religion is not to be disregarded as it plays a major role in the life of women and a fortiori in development. It is for society to use the structure of law to prop up the role of both religion and women for the good of society. As all things that turn out right, when engaged the positive outcome takes time but is certain.
There are ongoing agitations by women, for the basics of rights- for instance participation in governance relatively to men’s entitlement to so participate. There are also burning issues such as equality on indices for citizenship by marriage. Against this background, the questions have arisen on the basis of singling out women for celebration in the form of for instance, Mother’s Day or women’s day. Should women have a day devoted to celebrating womanhood? Is this an idle quest? The answer to these questions must be brought under scrutiny in modern times in the light of the overall prevailing quest for human emancipation and overall development which provides room for persons to flourish as full citizens. The ultimate answer to the questions however, remain in the positive.
Womanhood may have turned into a developmental challenge and should be a source of academic and policy concerns. Women in the bid to gain experiences in income generation beyond petty trading, may have been forced to abandon or relegate their natural role as women and mothers. There are now identifiable challenges to being woman.
Women tend to feel isolated or discriminated against in terms of physiological peculiarities. These peculiarities affect and determine roles for women. As an example, is women as primary caregivers for their families which then may, undermine performance outside of family. Women complain that there is no structural way to reward or compensate them for their role as primary caregivers in family. Women also complain that appointment and ascension to leadership positions, support network and mentoring in career development, governmental positions, access and other barriers to social welfare and participation, affect them disadvantageously.
These disadvantages are claimed to be reinforced by perceptions of sexism, sexual harassment, or intimidation. Other complains are that there is income disparity between male and females in gained employments and that opportunities to earn additional income are often more suited to male experiences and physiology. In addition, some organisations deliberately opt for male employees rather than females by structured terms and conditions of employment that favour men or policies that drive outright exemption of women. Some other complaints are that women may be required to work harder to gain recognition or promotions. There are also questions arising from roles ascribed by religion and culture and how they foist inferior positions on women in and out of family circles.
While the situation in Nigeria is being decried, the erstwhile role of mothers as major definers of persons as cultured and, positioned to flourish is also on the decline. Such matters as mothers raising children as adults with finer essence of humanity is either now a remote objective or totally outsourced to schools whose curriculum and details of etiquettes on the subject are at large or a mirage. It is rather curious how nurturing of children and persons can be delegated to persons such as helpers who do not have the necessary competences in themselves. Who teaches children the fine art of cleanliness in person? The fine art that to present oneself clean and cultured for self and in company is a responsibility, not only to self but, even more so to others? Who teaches children the finer essence of dinning and the delicacies of using cutleries and setting tables and table manners, such as not speaking over food or how to pass on cutleries?
To be continued tomorrow
Professor Chinwuba, is of the Department of Private & Property Law, Faculty of Law, University of Lagos, Lagos, Nigeria. Email: email@example.com