Gender equality: How possible in Nigeria?
Sir: The culture in Nigeria heavily discriminates against women. Our attitude to the female gender is borne out largely of ignorance and lower state of evolution. The more evolved a society become, the higher the understanding, refined the cultural practices and enhanced its sense of equality. Those countries that treat her women folk with respect and dignity, who practice gender equality have advanced and will continue to do so.
This kind of attitude of discrimination is nothing short of “machismo-an exaggerated sense of masculinity or unwarranted accentuation of male ego.” Unfortunately, menfolks have found it most expedient to suppress the role and potential of women folk even in religious cycles.
According to Professor Dele Owolawi “The only means of redressing this grossly skewed situation is for man to seek the light of reason and wisdom which only comes through genuine spiritual understanding. To go mundane in my analogy, the ‘tail’ of a coin or paper money is never inferior to the ‘head’ hence there’s no inferior gender-all are equal and must have equal rights under the law.
The male over-bloated ego must be pruned down and we must begin to see that no divine law, irrespective of how it is coined by mortal minds and twisted by human hand(s), has conferred eternal superiority on one gender over the other.”
That being said, the girl child must be given rights and equality as a matter of course without demanding it and to women generally. One of the fastest ways of seeking equality with men is to build capacity needed to compete with man in the corporate environment and elsewhere. Governmental and religious legislation should encourage this in Nigeria. The talk by men about a woman’s place being only in the kitchen, is inchoate but well entrenched, where they are not only not seen but can’t be heard, and must end if the north is to develop.
It is for such women that men need not go off at a tangent when making speeches, so as to free girls from horrendous subjugation. I mean, casual statements about the role of women can be taken literally by weak people to deal women a blow while wearing satanic rictus. But what is key to social justice? Isn’t it political equality and human dignity? Women should have a pluralism of options on how best to live fulfilled lives and contribute to society and not be subjected to a farrago of endless bad options.
The high degree of grovelling slavery suffered by women is the result of the society they live in. Treating women with patrician disdain is a matter of Nigerian pride. It is obvious that women do not lack leadership qualities, but they lack the space to compete not with man but with man-made rules.
And while some men campaign for women, women who have been liberated and are rich should not engage in penny-pinching behaviour. They should invest in causes to liberate other women instead of settling for grandiose speeches on public occasions.
Women in political office should strive for the wisdom mastered by brilliant minds if they are to be taken seriously. It is not enough to be treated seriously on the mere basis of being a woman. Such women must be seen to live a scandal-free life and always be ready to fight for women’s causes.
By Simon Abah
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