The Status of Women under International Legal Instruments and African Customary Law: Two Normative Systems in Perpetual Conflict?
Dr. Benson Olukayode Omoleye, Dr. Mrs Eniola Bolanle Oluwakemi

Rights of women form part of fundamental human rights. Initially, this set of rights was not recognised by the international community. This situation changed when the international community acknowledged that women cannot fully enjoy fundamental human rights without specific reference to their rights. However, African women are confronted with the challenges surrounding the clash between their status under international legal instruments and African customary law. This paper argues that while some African countries have signed and ratified various international instruments on the protection of the rights of women, and incorporated them in their national laws, there is a gap between policy and implementation. Ratification has not translated into improved rights for women due to persistent adherence to some African customary law which does not recognise such rights. The paper adopts the doctrinal method of research to review the various international legal instruments on women’s right, customary law and women’s rights in Africa, and the influence of the African customary law on the implementation of these instruments in Africa. It concludes that even though the issue of women’s rights is in conflict with African customary law, international human rights norms could be domesticated in Africa without the total abolition of African cultural practices.

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