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| The African Woman: The Right To Live |

One of the most limiting factors of our growth and development as a people is the rigidity of our mindset. The level of illogicality one witnesses in Nigeria becomes so vertiginous that one needs the abnormal to feel normal.

One of our biggest culture gaffe is the issue of gender discrimination. It is tough being an African woman. It still beats my sense of reasoning that people still celebrate the male child over the female child. The most ridiculous defense I’ve heard is “someone to continue the family name” – really? It is thoughts like this that makes joke of our literacy. Lack of acceptance of the female child leads to “one more time” mantra under the sheets until the home is saturated with tomorrow’s street urchins.

Education is a powerful tool but it beats me how the dark arts of tradition overrides our logical sense of reasoning. An African proverb goes thus “if you educate a male child, you educate an individual but when you educate a woman, you educate a nation”. In a nation where we have Chimamanda Adichie, Okonjo Iweala, Oby Ezekwesili, late Dora Akunyili, in sports, we have Blessing Okagbare and people still think female children are a waste of global space. For goodness sake, when do we realise that for every female child scorned, a mother is lost.

Life is hard enough for the average African woman. Everything that we have no explanations for, we blame on the infiltration of the West. How do we blame the whites for our untoward thinking. The African woman has been made to reason that her role in life is submission to men. For the religious ones, the holy book says women should submit to “their husbands” not men. Being one with you, we can agree that he deserves such respect. The problem is that African respect has been hinged on age and gender, but respect as I know it, is reciprocal. Maybe it is part of our culture but culture should be dynamic and change to meet socio – economic demands. There is an undertone of female subjugation when Africans quote that scripture. That is what happens when your President openly says that his wife belongs to the kitchen and the other room(bedroom). Women have been culturally victimized and sexually abused in this part of the world yet they are burdened with certain societal expectations that set them back inspite of their unprivileged opportunities in a patriachal system. Women around the world are making great strides. We can’t continue to undermine the power of the female gender.

Domestically, once the home is broken, faults shift to the woman. Those who still believe that a woman’s dream should be limited to child bearing and sexual satisfaction of her husband should be slapped with opprobrium🙄. The Prime Minister of Britain is a woman, the Chancellor of Germany is a woman, but for a stroke of ill luck, both the United States and France would have had women at the ultimate seat of power. Margaret Chan stepped down last year as the head of the World Health Organization(WHO) after 10 years at the helm of affairs. Around the world, women are battling it out in male dominated terrains but it is harder in Africa. Rumour had it that Yahoo paid women smaller salary than their male colleagues doing same job – a claim denied by the internet giant. Based on a 2017 regulation in the UK which required companies with over 250 employees to disclose salary data, it was revealed that investment banks like Goldman Sachs and Citigroup reported mean hourly rate differences for U.K.-based female and male employees at 55.5% and 48.4% respectively, according to the data. U.K.-run banks like HSBC and Barclays reported women earned a mean hourly rate of 59% and 48%, respectively, less than their male counterparts.

Ryanair, an Irish-based airline, reported a 67% difference in the mean hourly earnings between men and women. EasyJet, a British airline, reported a 51.7% difference. Due to its highly paid male athletes, the Stoke City Football Club reported women earned 92.5% lower in mean hourly earnings than men. The disparity in the median hourly rate between women and men for the club was 30.5%. Only 4% of fortune 500 companies are run by women(you see how hard women fight).

The emergence of female CEOs is on the rise. We in Africa need to encourage the female child. We have to change that automatic assumption that the only woman in the room is a secretary. Until we fundamentally restructure the way we work and make female education and empowerment a priority, this crucible is likely to hamper women’s careers for years to come. We need to encourage the African woman, help her to dream big and strive for excellence. Give her equal opportunity like the males. No longer should jobs be given out on basis of gender. Corporately speaking, for a woman to be considered average, she has to be exceptional, but for a man to be considered average, he just has to show up. These are off-beat theories and like lawyers, we are finding wacky experts to prove them. How long do we defend such intellectual program? Ifeoma Thorpe-White, born to Nigerian parents got admission to all 8 Ivy league schools – Harvard, Princeton, Yale, Columbia, Brown, Cornell, Dartmouth, Stanford and University of Pennsylvania. That is a proud achievement for any parent. As a father, you don’t want to spend your grey years encumbered with the knowledge that  you wasted the life of your daughter. Being male is not a milestone. Nobody cares about your gender as much as your success.

Eighteen years into the new millennium, we can no longer wave religion or tradition as an excuse to deny women rights that should otherwise be basic.

In today’s world, like Bill Gates said, technology is proceeding at a pace faster than the speed of thought. Elon Musk of Tesla is making life simpler with the birth of Artificial Intelligence and it would make sense to prepare the African child for tomorrow – girls inclusive.

African women should also do self evaluation. The world is hard enough being a woman. You can’t set priority to be a slay queen or social media queen. When a girl says she can’t do without her phone or she doesn’t like to read, I’m always lost for words. 😳I mean HOW? Unless you are making money and causing a change behind those keyboards, I don’t understand how you can’t do without your phone because you want to keep up with social media gossips and baseless chats.

In today’s world you either sharpen up or shapen out. Engagement ring is not an achievement. No one is going to put you cheaply at the helm of affairs just because you are a woman. You have to break barriers and to do that, you must be enlightened. Like Robert Kiyosaki said ” in today’s fast changing world, it is not so much what you know anymore that counts, because often what you know is old. It is how fast you learn”

Men should stay in their wake because the female army is here. Men have got to challenge for everything now and stop expecting grace on the plane of gender superiority. With that mindset, how do you raise your daughter to believe in her dreams? Research shows that women in Nigeria have been doing better than men academically in the past decade. It is only a matter of time that they begin to challenge the male folks in the corporate and political space. It is time we woke up and smell the coffee.

Fatherhood is in the horizon and I can feel it in my bones (just kidding 😜). I know it is really gonna be exciting when it comes. I’m gonna be my little girl’s muse and hero in a society that wants her to think less of herself because she is a woman. In the meantime, let me make hay before the moon comes out. Who else is excited about fatherhood?😅

Shout out to every African woman and to those who hit the glass ceiling, we will never forget!✊🏾🙌🏾

Featured Writer: Wisdom Dickson

Dickson is a lawyer and voracious reader who blows off steam by reading and watching movies when he is not screaming and rooting for Liverpool’s every match day. Don’t mind him if he sound light-hearted sometimes. Having lived in every part of the Nigeria, you begin to realize that life is not that serious. In his thinking room, he decides to sit behind his keyboard and a cup of coffee to dissect prevailing social issues. In his words “My mind is pressed. Allow me ease my pen.”

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