INSPIRATION

HARD THOUGHTS ON BEING A WOMAN

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All over the world, at least once a year, people make out time to celebrate “being a woman”. It could be during the International Women’s Day or the British Mother’s Day or the American Mother’s Day. But people always acknowledge a special day to celebrate womanhood. So we buy gifts, flowers, send loving emails and text messages, put across emotional calls and make the women in our lives feel very special on that singular day.

While this is lovely and laudable, days like this also serve to remind us of some unpleasant truths that we most often would rather not acknowledge. Like how many schoolgirls are forced into child marriage. Or how many more victims of rape are silenced by the blame-shame game society plays. Or how many women are trapped in abusive relationships/marriages because their options are limited or how many women are unable to aspire to much because ambition for women is a sin in some quarters. The list of unpleasant realities is endless.

It is disheartening that in 2016, a supposed ‘adult person’ can say a thing like “…you as a woman can avoid rape by sitting in your house.” This was a tweet shared by someone a few days ago. It makes one wonder whether members of our society are actually progressive or retrogressive in their thinking. The brainbox of such ideas that seek to stifle the voice and progress of the Nigerian woman – albeit under the guise of religion, morals or ‘unfulfilled laws’ is in dire need of refurbishment. The world continues to evolve but not quite at the pace one would sound the drums of excitement for, especially when the part of the world under consideration is Nigeria.

HARD THOUGHTS ON BEING A WOMAN

 

How else does one explain the kidnap of a teenage girl who is subsequently forced into marriage? But for the massive outcry on social media, that act would have probably gone unnoticed as have many others before it. This is evidenced by the successive appeals raised by parents of similar victims in the wake of public attention.

Government legislation ought to protect vulnerable citizens in society but when the Legislature “legalizes” child marriage, one can reasonably infer that the government may not necessarily be depended upon to protect the vulnerable. We must put an end to premature transformation of schoolgirls into women.

Being a woman is much more than pushing babies through a vagina. Being a woman is much more than offering sexual pleasures to a man. Being a woman is much more than household chores; fixing meals, doing dishes and tending to children. Being a woman is daring to dream. Being a woman is aspiring to the greatest heights possible. Being a woman is keeping hope alive in the face of overwhelming obstacles. Being a woman is being confident in who you are, able to develop & nurture your potentials and contributing your value to society.

But how can you dream, hope or aspire if you are having and nursing babies at 13 while people your age – in saner societies are in the classroom?

We sometimes wonder at the poor representation of Nigerian women in various levels of government or in different leadership capacities in industries. However, we also seem to forget that the women who should hold these offices are mostly confined to their homes, subduing dreams, and doing what they regard as the greater good for their families. This might seem like a boring rhetoric but ignoring the truth will not make it any less truthful.

Having established that government cannot strictly be relied upon to resolve the issues facing women and the girl child in society, the next question then becomes, what can an individual do to help tackle the problems on ground?

It was a Ghanaian scholar who said “…educate a woman and you educate a nation.” If we consciously determine to give utmost importance to girl child education, we would well be on our way to transforming the destinies of the future Nigerian women and the nation at large.

Society conditions women to believe that there can be no balance between ambition and domestic life. So women fail even before they get a chance to try. This is a myth we must debunk first with our words, backed up by our show of support for women who want to take a chance on this road less travelled. Thankfully there are women who exist in this time and space who have successfully laid this myth to rest. So many of them are bright shinning examples within the Nigerian society today; Still, our nation needs many more of such women.

Annie Lowrey in her article for the New York Times titled “How Working Women Help the Economy” stated based on research that the ultimate effects of having more women in the workforce are “richer families and a larger economy.” So women engaging in the workforce is not just beneficial to them but to the society as a whole.

Another important thing to note is that more often than not, we are not directly responsible for some of the things that happen to us, regardless of what anyone might think or say. This is especially true as regards the issue of rape. When we blame a lady for getting raped, we place a massive burden of responsibility on her that should not have been there in the first place.

Ayo Sogunro expressed this quite succinctly by considering rape in the light of theft. “The intention to steal is not justified by access to the item.” So also, a rapist’s intention to rape cannot be justified by a woman being scantily clad or a woman having the audacity to leave her house as captured in that tweet earlier mentioned. As a friend of mine often likes to say, “how come the commercial sex workers along known routes are not raped when they walk those areas scantily clad?”

Ayo goes on to say “we need more security to catch intending and actual rapists. We don’t need self-limitations to force women to cower and run away from them.” Essentially, the blame-shame game must stop.

This article would be incomplete if I fail to mention that there are amazing Nigerian women defying odds and daring to change the world while they balance ambition with managing the home front. I am daily inspired by these women and young ladies who take charge of their lives and chase dreams that would otherwise have been regarded as impossible 50 years ago. Time would not permit me to mention names – but look around you, I bet there’s an amazon quietly adding value both on the home-front and at work; perhaps it is even you reading this piece 🙂

HARD THOUGHTS ON BEING A WOMAN

I salute your courage and steadfastness; but we need more of you. We need more of us.

Which brings me back to my earlier point. The world is indeed evolving, even if not at a pace that we like. But no matter what you think has been done for women, we can do more. So much more. And in light of the recent Gender Equality and Opportunity Bill struck out by the Senate, we at #TeamPodozi strongly believe that Nigeria is in dire need of a robust Gender Equality & Opportunity Law in order to strengthen and advance our collective development as a nation.

Am sure you have your thoughts on this important subject; let’s talk more – leave your comments in the section below. What we talk about, at least, has a chance of being acted upon.

I close with a thought I want you to go away with from Napoleon Bonaparte:

 

P.S

This post was written by Oge – @oge_writes and edited by Teniolami – @tenibeauty

BeautyStyle

Beauty & LifeStyle Assistant Editor at Signature Podozi (a sister company of podozi.com); we are all about bringing you the most informative & entertaining education on all things beauty.

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