Growing into true women
In August, I wrote a two-part series on the unique place of women in our world and that a woman is a woman by the nature of her activities.
Professor Nduka speaks from time to time in gatherings on Girl Child, on Women, their place, or their plight. She writes Woman, A Name of Honour. Having taken more than passing interest in the High Office of the Woman in the conviction that rebuilding the world and moving it away from disaster starts with women being at their posts, I am unable to resist Mrs. Nduka’s intervention—away from male chauvinism. Enjoy your reading.
No doubt we have been regaled with statistics of the disadvantages and deprivations suffered by the girl child in different societies of the world and the efforts at making amends or offering support at enhanced empowerment. Global bodies have estimated the number of out of school children in Nigeria to be more than 10.5 million and 60 per cent of these are girls and that varied factors contribute to this sad state. Early marriage has been acknowledged as a major reason why girls drop out of school as poor families see their girls as a ready source of income and carried out without their consent. Nigeria has the third highest global figure of early marriage put at 3,538,000 by UNICEF in 2018. Girls are also involved in excessive domestic chores (about 14hours a week) ranging from taking care of siblings, doing laundry, meal preparation, disposing of wastes to fetching water and firewood. They are also victims of increased violence including gender discrimination, human trafficking, physical and sexual abuse, corruption, organised crime, and peacetime violence.
Many stories are told of women and girls and many societies see them as second-class citizens often relegated and deprived of fundamental human rights. More often than not she is seen only as an appendage to a man and her life cycle segmented into three periods of whose child, whose wife, and whose mother. There is a clamour from different organizations to change this perception but many of these drive the girls and women into more despair from lack of understanding of the essence of a female and becoming consumed with the singular pursuit of achieving equality with the male. There is a reason why males and female come across differently and a disruption of this natural divide does not favour the growth of true femininity. Both females and males represent complimenting activities and each is fitted out adequately to perform optimally in the designated segment.
Girl child has a right to pursue different goals in life as long as they do not distort her feminine values. It is the responsibility of these organizations and families to encourage the growth of true women.
Females represent the finer arm of the human race and can be equated to being the angels of the earth. They are made fragile yet very strong, beautiful, and loosely built and assigned serious responsibilities that can only be given to the more matured arm. We hear of such sayings as the future of mankind is in the hands of a woman. Many may think it is because she can bear children to populate the earth but one of the major responsibilities of the female is to ennoble her environment, elevate it, further it, make it more beautiful by ensuring only things that are good are encouraged to thrive. By focusing attention only on matters that bring dignity and decorum evil will have no roots and society will be happy and peaceful. The female sets the pace and defines the moral agenda of the people and therefore is held to higher standards than the man. She has to cultivate virtues and instill a culture of respect and consideration for others.
While the girl child is acquiring education preparatory to career development it would be appropriate to inculcate the deep desire for only things that are uplifting in her psyche. She should be constantly reminded that she is to promote and identify with goodness. She cannot be an agent of examination malpractice, forgery, indiscipline, wickedness but she must have a goal which is beyond material acquisition and anchored in love for her fellow creatures and love for the Almighty Father. She is not ordinary or just a plaything for men but she is specially called to duty to be a constant reminder to men and children of the need to advance the cause of doing the right things.
In any situation, one finds oneself there is only one way to go, the right way. It is only ignoble ideas that support any and every method, the end justifies the means. To become this guardian of the morals of the people she is given the highest gift, the delicacy of intuitive perception through which she can receive guidance and lead in an upright manner. The power of the woman’s intuition has been chronicled over time and children can bear witness to the uncanny ability of their mothers to decode issues. This ability makes her a natural leader in deciding the road of development for mankind. When pointed to pure sources it receives noble ideals on how affairs of mankind should proceed. This woman has an influence on which she exercises unobtrusively to get many to do things. The presence of a true woman can stop evil on its tracks from the pressure of the good emanating from her. Anything a woman encourages thrives and anything she rejects shrivels. Deducing from this she need not jump into the saddle to be a leader but can influence the quality of leadership and its dividends through the quality of children she attracts and raises in the first place and the vehemence with which she rejects evil ways at the current posts she finds herself. It is given to the finer arm of the human race, a naturally ordained priestess to give birth to children and nurture them in honest ways.
A knowing gentleman of the medical profession shared with many recently that the woman is a bearer of life force because an individual can survive with a single X chromosome and she has XX while no one can survive on a single Y which characterizes the man without the X from the Woman. This is science confirming the role of the woman as the decisive arm in bringing life to earth. Furthermore, the genes of the powerhouse of the cells of the body, the mitochondria responsible for energy production can only be transferred to the children, male or female through the mother. This makes the woman the bearer of life energy.
Any wonder she is also given the responsibility to care for and nourish the body with healthy thoughts and food to boost the energy-producing organelles she transferred in the right manner. This is a responsibility women are in a hurry to throw away because ignorant men make ridiculing comments about the kitchen and women. A foolish man jokes with the powerhouse of the home because he wants to mask his helpless dependency and vulnerability by reducing the importance of that task. Unfortunately, women are buying into this and pointing to award-winning chefs being men. What do these men provide? Intellectual cooking and dishes that cannot compare to Mama’s intuitively perceived nourishment cooked with love drawing down the rays of blessing which gives strength to the family. Any surprise why mankind is sick globally and in a rush to return to natural food and remedies?
Woman is like the older of two children given the task to look after the younger by the parents with specific instructions on what to do but decided to be distracted by the whining tantrums of the younger. Of course, she will be held accountable if anything goes wrong. Still in doubt why she gets blamed for everything? Chasing equality with the men is devaluation for the woman, dollar currency wanting to be Naira and in the process she gets soiled. This is the time of teaching the girl child the importance of a healthy balanced diet, exercises, and maintaining balance in life through having priorities and a season for everything.
The girl child needs to realize that she is endowed with natural charm a gift to support her activity of helping to keep the gaze of men and children upwards to the source of all goodness. This way the desire to flood the environment with only activities that increase the growth of spiritual qualities and bring peace is ignited in all. Through her examples of patience, perseverance, selflessness, compassion, empathy, loving care and zero tolerance for evil others follow to grow a light-filled environment. This charm should not be turned into seduction which keeps the gaze of men fastened on the bodies of girls and women and encourage the men to an increased material pursuit in any and every manner to satisfy the woman and earn her admiration. This seduction has reduced women to playthings for men and being regarded as beautiful mother animals.
There is a pervading desire to draw the attention of boys and men to the body of the female with fashion that encourages unlimited exposure of the female body in daring styles. Everywhere one looks it is a field of exposed cleavages, very tight-fitting outfits that advertises curves for sale, high slits, open armpits, poking shoulder blades, torn and sagging trousers, etc. The trending word is sexy and girls and women fall in millions for one-liner tongue in cheek compliments that have only one purpose: To defile the goods and move on. There is unbridled sensuality globally and girls and women are the ugly symbols. Any advertisement is not complete without a picture of a skimpily clad female beside a well-dressed male. Video clips of reigning dances of latest music releases are not complete without the riveting flashes of near-naked female figures in vulgar gyrations around a decently attired male musician. Little children now mimic these dance steps at school parties. And girls and women want to be taken seriously and accorded equality? How many clamour of affirmative action and protests have we seen or heard from female organisations, female political leaders, wives of leaders condemning this ceaseless assault and debasing of womanhood? A ready excuse is girls and women are more affected by poverty so they are easily exploited. But value must be placed on oneself by girls and women and only when they know who they really are can this happen. There is a reign of shamelessness and anything goes and girls and women, unfortunately, take the lead in these matters. However, the degree of shame anyone expresses reflects how spiritually matured an individual is and how pure are intents and activities.
The girl child is a special gift to the right mother and to her environment. Her path needs to be guarded and guided onto ways that show a strong desire to live as a symbol of true service to the Creator. Her education should not be only one-sided with the intellectual goal of excelling at career ladders or pleasing a husband and children, but also she should be awakened to the task of impacting positively anything she touches, having a sense of beauty and not losing the sense of shame. She should not be encouraged to engage in activities that would solidify her body thereby affecting negatively her ability to perceive intuitively. She should be directed to tow the path of virtues and use the power of the Creator only for the good. Boys and men are also encouraged to see the girl and woman as the great support they need to achieve noble manhood. Therefore, treat the female with respect. When she becomes a bearer of light, standing as a mediator that passes on only noble influences then the future of mankind will be rosy. Not until then.
Nduka is Professor of Parasitology, University of Port Harcourt.