Promoting Gender Equality in the Context of Nigerian Cultural and Religious Expression: beyond Increasing Female Access to Education

Abstract:

National education policies in Nigeria aim at addressing female disprivilege by improving girl-child enrolment in schools in line with Millennium Development Goal targets. In addition, the National Gender Policy and its Strategic Implementation Framework stress the importance of mainstreaming gender perspectives within the education sector by ensuring adult women and girls gain access to education. This article draws on empirical qualitative data from interviews with educated Nigerian women, religious leaders and principal actors in women’s rights groups to demonstrate that merely increasing female access to education is an incomplete development strategy for reducing gender inequality. This is owing to the strong influence of pervasive cultural and religious gender bias. The article employs a redemptive-movement hermeneutic within a Christian faith ethic to argue for a critical interrogation of sexist interpretations of biblical texts. It concludes with culturally sensitive and practical action steps within the education sector to promote a gender-friendly learning environment and more equitable outcomes.