UNILAG, French consulate discuss gender inequality at IWD event
As the world celebrated International Women’s Day 2018 on Thursday, Nigeria was not left out as the French Consulate, in partnership with the University of Lagos, held an event themed: Women on the Move: Gender Expectations and Unequal Power Relationships in the Nigerian Society at the Afe Babalola hall, University of Lagos, with a focus on empowering women to make more positive contributions to the society that will aid the eradication of gender inequality.
The event, anchored by Tabia Princewill, a political and strategic communications consultant, was graced by both male and females students, lecturers, professors and others from all walks of life with the primary aim of educating women to say NO to all forms of gender inequality and abuse by men.
Distinguished speakers who shed more light on the societal expectations of men and women, as well as what the society believe are the responsibilities of women in Nigeria, made the platform a place of education and awareness.
It was revealed that men are naturally expected to provide and cater for their family’s financial needs, while women are still too often expected to passively receive. Both men and women are prisoners of certain stereotypes in Nigeria, which are a hindrance to healthy and balanced relationships. In fact, because financial power is mostly in the hands of men, women’s entry into business, politics, or other industries, is more difficult, which limits women to a secondary role in the society.
Senator Claudine Lepage, a French Senator and Educationist representing French nationals abroad said, the laws in France, her home country, helped secure equal rights for men and women and fight gender bias and poverty.
“Boys and girls must have the same opportunities in society for it to be considered a real functional, democracy.
“Parent should make it a mandate to provide basic formal education for their children, which also serves as a platform for moral education” she said.
Professor Sophie Oluwole, a renowned Nigerian philosopher and a promoter of Yoruba philosophy, indigenous languages and culture said, it is important to define equality and inequality appropriately as it is impossible to call a man who is the sole provider of the family an oppressor and harp for equality when he pays rent, school fees and feeds the entire family while the woman works and keep her money.
“It is impossible to see him as an oppressor and you cannot rank equals with him.
“So to eradicate all forms of inequality and power oppressing men, women should equally contribute their quota to the family as compliment.
“Men and women are expected to compliment each other,” she said.
Professor Oluwole added that pre-colonial African society believed in the complementarity of both genders and their necessary contribution to public affairs. However, today, many people justify women’s maltreatment by using culture or so called traditional norms.
“I have never denied the fact that gender oppression exist and it is not peculiar to Nigeria alone, it is everywhere in the world, though times are evolving but as far back in 1912, women in London demonstrated against education inequality when women in London were not allowed to go to school and study Medicine.
“Even in Nigeria, initially women were not allowed to study Medicine but over time, it got better and we have great women doctors in Nigeria and all over the world.
“For me, gender inequality will minimise if women keep working twice as hard and ensure to play key roles in contributing and complimenting the family and society at large” she added.
Also Titilola Vivour-Adeniyi, Lagos State coordinator of the Domestic and Sexual Violence Response Team (DSVRT), highlighted forms of oppression and offered a way forward. She said it is important for the society to raise confident women who will not be cowed into silence if and when abused.
She also spoke about the subtle ways in which one can spot a potential abuser. “A man who tries to separate you from friends and family, who wants you to stay home but without making adequate arrangements can become abusive” she said.
The event also focused on the portrayal of women in the media through Rita Dominic, a multiple-award winning actor and filmmaker who said, any kind of media can truly impact positively or otherwise to self perception, so it is important for the media to be properly structured to avoid mishaps in the society.
She admitted that Nollywood’s portrayal of women can sometimes be empowering and other times stereotypical but it is important for individuals to know the difference between right and wrong and hold on to the positivity and drop the negativity.
Princewill, however, noted that to eradicate gender inequality and the abuse of women by men, mothers should make it a point of duty to raise their sons to become the man they would have wanted to marry, if they had their ways in raising their husbands before marriage.
She, however, added that the possible solution to gender inequality in Nigeria is awareness forums such as this to shed more light on these issues.
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