Women's right continues to experience high rates of abuse across civilizations, even in countries that present themselves as 'saner climes'. Ranging from Saudi Arabia where women are restricted from traveling, are made to cover their faces, and where it is socially acceptable to beat women and children to Iran where women are not allowed in sports stadiums to watch men play, the prospects don't get any brighter.
Russia isn't left out, either, as the country seeks to promote a bill that values the "preservation of family" over the rights of women, the job doesn't seem to be getting any juicier for women rights activists.
This week's edition of Wednesday Thrills attempts to offer enlightenment about the marginalization, objectification, and stereotypes faced by women with a focus on the Nigerian clime.
So your profile says you work for an NGO concerned with women's right? Why? Why did you opt for that?
Well, I believe in the rights of women. Women have always had their rights suppressed and this is really disheartening. Although I used to preach equality of men and women prior to now, my orientation has changed; a lot of things have shaped my views into an angled form and now I preach equity. I believe women should be allowed to exercise their rights without unnecessary restrictions.
You just mentioned two similar terms, equity, and equality? What are their differences?
Okay. This is one question I'm asked a lot. Equity refers to fairness, justice, and impartiality while Equality refers to equal sharing and division, keeping everyone at the same level.
Yeah. Equity is positive discrimination. Equality might give rise to negative discrimination where people are treated equally but, probably, unfairly. But with equity, people are treated fairly but differently. In a nutshell, equity cannot be achieved through equality but equality can be achieved through equity. I hope I've not confused you further, lol.
Let's see. So equity might lower or increase the standards for a particular sex or gender over another so they can be equal. Is that it?
Exactly. Equality = Sameness. Equity = Fairness and justice
Do you really think women are being trampled upon in Nigeria?
Well, commendably, in Nigeria, women are now being allowed to hold certain key positions as against the days of old. Religiously, there are still some biases that exist while culturally, we have a long way to go with lots of women's rights as regards marriage, inheritance, childbearing, and decision-making being trampled upon. It's rather appalling that these things still exist.
What do you mean by women's rights on marriage being trampled?
Yes o. The idea of tagging marriage as a major source of achievement for a woman is wrong. Yes, marriage is a beautiful thing but a lady's importance should not be tied to her ability to keep a home. I also remember a Nigerian soap opera I watched where the woman was contesting for an election and she was advised to look for a man to marry just so her chances of winning would be increased and so that people would not use it to mock her. This lady is overqualified certificate-wise but a certificate that didn't need an exam to get, called marriage was blocking her dreams. A woman should never be defined by the ring on her finger No way!
But this is also applicable to men. I know a man who didn't get a promotion at work because he wasn't married.
Really? That's a first, for me anyway. If you then decide to bring inheritance into the equation, it gets worse. Not just first daughter or first son o, I'm talking about women taking positions they are qualified for. The misogynistic thought process in Nigeria tries to choke ladies and make them give up. I remember when I was in school and a female friend of mine was contesting for the Director of Sports position, a position that has predominantly been occupied by men. People kept telling her to step down, that she couldn't take the heat, but I continued to encourage her and eventually, she won. This thought process has to change.
So, what practical steps do you think should be taken to correct this ill?
Firstly, people should understand the rights of women and that they deserve fair treatment because they are not lesser. Seminars and orientations should be regularly done to accentuate this, right from the grassroots - primary schools, the home, church, etc. Because our mindsets are conditioned from a young age.
Yesterday, I saw a snapshot of the 2019 medical graduating set of the University of Lagos and the girls were higher in number by almost 65%, do you think this is an improvement on educational statistics compared to what was initially obtainable?
Yes, I can attest to this and I'm super proud of Nigerian parents. Before now, boys were more in number in schools than girls because people believed that sending a girl to school amounted to a waste of resources. But it isn't the case anymore. I went to a school's graduation to cover an NTA report and about 85% of children called out for outstanding prizes in their classes were females. That's very encouraging.
What is your concept of feminism?
Well, my concept of feminism is simple - fairness and justice. I like to look at my view of feminism as equity feminism. Lol. Lemme make it clearer.
Better. (smirks in an equity manner)
Equity feminism is simply the equality of both sexes generally. This includes economic and political equality, equal access within the workplace and freedom from oppressive gender stereotypes.
Hmm. Do you think feminism/equal access to opportunities is achievable, in Nigeria?
I think so. People should just learn to be fair to everyone. Some people view feminism as men and women being equal and that's wrong.
Very wrong. See my muscles nau, where are yours?
Lmao. That's it. I'm not the same as a man. I want to feel like a woman and lean on my brother or father's arms for strength if need be. I may or may not have a man's physical strength to lift a crate of drinks but please, if I'm qualified to manage the store, don't play d toxic masculinity card on me and tell me I wouldn't be able to.
Ok let's leave women's rights a bit, do you think Women are always demeaned by their male counterparts?
Not always, but it happens. That was why I mentioned the toxic masculinity trait most men possess. They always want to be in charge and want women to think they need them to exist.
Do you have any personal experience of yours where you were looked down upon because of your sex?
Yes, I remember one experience. When I was studying for a diploma in theology, we needed a course rep. We were asked to make nominations and I was nominated alongside two guys, after which the class had to decide. Not that I was so eager to be the course rep but you can imagine the disgust I felt when a woman like me stood up and said it would be better the other guy was made course rep and I, his assistant.
Hian! Your fellow woman?
My dear, this is why I said we need massive reorientation on this issue, even women. She even went further to state that course rep job no be for woman before she started quoting bible verses on how women were created to play supporting roles to men. (shakes head in disgust)
Sure you remember the President's infamous insinuation of a woman's place restricted to the oza room, don't you think this view is also shared by a majority given the scant number of women in top management
Yeah. I do think many people share this view and it is really popular among the northerners. They believe that a woman can only do as much. Sadly, this mindset translates to our government where we can notice that while women hold certain positions, there are still restrictions to the level or position they can attain
Some of the women who have held top positions in the country have in one way of the other been found wanting. Patricia Ette stole public funds, Allison Madueke is still cooling in a cancerous bed in the US, Kemi Adeosun was found to have circumvented a necessary Nigerian public service requirement. Do you think these experiences make it more difficult for women to earn top political appointments?
When people bring up instances of women that committed one crime or the other and give it as a reason for why women shouldn't be given top political appointments, I'd require them to look at the majority of crimes committed by the men too.
I feel attacked.
No, it's not you. You are asking based on what you've been hearing as well. I just feel that for someone to commit a crime while in office is not as a result of gender, it's who the person is and if men have been committing a lot of heinous crimes whilst in office and still given opportunity to attain positions, I feel the same should be applicable to women. We shouldn't be generalized as incompetent because one of us fell short of expectations.
Well, women are subjugated and if they are going to change the rhetoric, don't you think they'll fare better with less wrong publicity?
I totally understand your point and that's why I think in order to change the status quo, women should be able to draw positive light to themselves as well.
Do you think prosperous women can do anything about the struggle?
They can be supportive and see reasons with the struggle. These women shy away from contesting in political positions or key positions because the idea that we live in a man's world has eaten deep into them and so they believe there isn't room for them but if more and more women of value and substance decide to take the bull by the horn, it would encourage younger women to never accept the relegation society has positioned them in.
Why did you think Ezekwesili backed out from the last Presidential elections after raising the hopes of many? Think she was scared? Or she knew she couldn't beat the opposition?
Lmao. Many people raised this dust of Oby backing out because she couldn't take the heat, but that's wrong. I feel she was wise enough to realize that to achieve her goal of ending bad governance, she had to step back and restrategize.
If the men always stepped back to restrategize as well, we would have been ruling ourselves by now.
Well, she clearly stated that she viewed the 2019 elections as a two-horse race and she needed a coalition so that people can freely exercise their rights without helplessly being saddled with the #APCPDP mandate. The decision was viable and not as a result of fear or favor but all in a bid to achieve a longer-term goal and I'm sincerely proud of her. Although we wished she pushed through but I saw reasons with her decisions.
When someone says they prefer having a male child, do you consider that a devaluation of the female sex?
Ahhhhh... If I start this one ehn, you go tire. Lmao.
Biko I no wan taya. I said someone, not me. So, easy abeg.
Hahaha. See, I hate, hate, and hate when people, whether a man or a woman, consider male children as paramount or more important than a female child. I don't even want to hear of such scenarios. I don't feel anyone is more important than the other. The joy a female child would bring to you when inculcated with the right values is also the same as a male child. So what are you saying?
What are THEY saying, my dear. Easy with the personal pronouns, lol. I guess that's a cultural bias that will take a while to change or correct though.
I totally agree, because with the number of husbands threatening to drive their wives out, or mother-in-laws insulting women for not producing a male child, or inheritance being preserved for just male children, or insults being doled out on the female children by fathers, we definitely still have a long way to go.
Do you think men feel threatened by their female partners who clamor for 'equal status' in the relationship?
Yes, I think so and I know it's the male ego that feels threatened.
So how can women strike a balance between marital respect and standing for their rights?
As much as I believe in the rights of women, I understand the duties and expectations of a wife and I don't intend to fall short. When it becomes an issue is when the person you are married to believes so much in patriarchy and adopts the concept of total submission of a woman to be controlled because he feels he owns you. God forbid!!
Satan self will forbid that!
Lmao, calm down. At my place of work, a movie was screening and in the movie, a husband demanded sex from his woman forcefully and some customers, especially the males, were in agreement, saying that it's his right. I was so disgusted and while we are not allowed to converse with our customers, I had to talk. I gave them gbas gbos views on why I totally disagree with what was showed and that no man can ever pull such stunt on me and not get arrested, regardless of the ring on my finger.
Oshey. Strong lady, I stan!
Hahaha. Limme johr.
Thanks for giving me your time, we'll spend the whole day here if we keep at it.
Lol. Nigeria matter wahala o.
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