How to make the laws work for women
Across the world and in Nigeria, there had been various laws that were passed to protect women rights and make them immune to violations. But often these laws prove ineffective due to lack of proper implementation, issues of traditional or cultural beliefs, religious hindrances and societal expectations among others.
There are some approaches that can however be used to ensure the justice system works for women and advance the cause of women rights. They include
effective implementation of gender-sensitive law reforms which is the basis of women’s access to justice. Laws that explicitly discriminate against women’s rights and equality should be repealed.
Women’s rights within marriage and the family must be preserved and gender pay gap should be addressed.
Also, quotas should be used to boost the number of women legislators and new laws to advance women’s rights. In Nigeria, this is where the 34 per cent affirmative action comes into play. This is in line with the Beijing Platform for Action calls for gender balance in governmental bodies and CEDAW’s mandatory use of temporary special measures, including quotas, to increase
the voice of women in decision-making at all levels.
Women should be put on the front line of law enforcement and justice delivery to increase women’s access to justice.
Judges need to be trained to monitor decisions for unbiased judicial decision-makng and guarantee women’s rights.
Women’s access to courts and truth commissions must be increased while gender-responsive reparations programmes must be matched with commitment.
There is need to invest in women’s access to justice and strengthen the rule of law by government and at all levels, government must meet up with international commitments and put in place a legal framework that guarantees women’s rights and a functioning justice system.
Gender equality must be ingrained at the heart of the Millennium Development Goals while education and sensitisation on rights and decision-making should be prioritised.
Public services must be made more accessible towards amplifying women’s voices in decision making, from the grassroots to the national levels in order to ensure that policies reflect the realities of women’s lives.
Women’s legal organisations that are at the forefront of making justice systems work for women must be supported especially in situations where government funded legal aid is limited.
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