Hi dears, recently I met up with these four amazing ladies and we had a great chat on gender parity and allied matters. We had a great time speaking from personal perspectives, and I would love to share it with you.
Hi ladies, today we’ll be talking about gender parity, gender equality and inequality, equity and a bit of feminism from individual perspectives. I’d like us to look at it from cultural and social angles especially as obtainable in Africa. But first, introductions. I’m MojolaOluwa, a Nigerian writer and graduate of law. I’m female, lol. I’m excited to be here and I’ll be moderating the discussions.
Bisola: OK, I’m Bisola Scott…Female…also a graduate of law, almost a lawyer *tongue out* so happy to be here…
Amarachi: Good afternoon great thinkers! I’m Paul Victoria Amarachi, a final year student, University of Ibadan. I’m a spoken words poet, I love to write and sing…
Kehinde: Hello everyone, I’m Aladejana Kehinde.
Abimbola: My names are Olaogun Olaitan Abimbola and I’m so glad and honoured to be part of this forum and discussion.
MojolaOluwa: Welcome ladies, remember, be original, we discuss from personal perspectives. Also it’s not exactly a textbook discussion so let’s have fun. Again, I’m MojolaOluwa and I’m extremely excited to be talking to you guys today. To start with, when you hear terms like gender equality, gender parity, what immediately comes to mind?
Amara: I immediately think of male and female discrimination… what a woman can’t do because she’s a woman and what a man thinks he can do because he’s a man.
Bisola: Male and Female. Their differences and Similarities. The traditional belief that exalts men over women. Tainting women as lower beings. Also the modern belief which emphasizes equality between male and female.
Kehinde: Gender equality, gender parity, issues about male and female as related to work, marriages, expectations of the society and family orientation and upbringing about males and females
MojoOlaoluwa: Wow! Interesting!.
What then would be your personal idea of gender parity, what does it mean to you personally? Asides the traditional stereotypes attached to that concept.
Abby: My personal idea of gender parity is correcting the many misconceptions that people generally have about women being the weaker being and being limited to certain things just because of their gender…..
MojolaOluwa: do you think the struggle for gender parity in Nigeria is a worthwhile cause?
Amara: Yes I believe it’s a worthwhile cause because sooner or later, the results and effects would be very evident for all to see.
Abby: Yes… I think the struggle is a worthwhile cause…because 80% of Nigerians are still embedded in the traditional beliefs of women being limited to some certain works…Imagine what our president said about his wife belonging to the other room… and he is the president of a country for crying out loud! So I think it’s very worthwhile… Women need to be allowed to live out their full capacity without being limited…(God gives out gifts regardless of the gender). Waiting for that day…When the Nigerian president would be a woman *lol*. So for the third time… it is very worthwhile!
MojolaOluwa: Do you think the battle for gender parity is being won at all. Considering the past and present day Africa, do you think the struggle has fared the women folk well? Improving their lot in any way?
Amara: I consider the fight for gender parity as being won because comparing the past and the present day Africa, women have been given more opportunities and respect unlike in the past.
MojolaOluwa: could you give examples?
Amara: OK… In religious centres women were never allowed to have a say… but today, taking Christianity as an example, we have a good number of female pastors doing great.
MojolaOluwa: I agree.
Abby: Uhm…. Yes I think it’s being won…. Considering that women are now allowed into the political system….and quite a number of women are doing things that were thought only to be for men…. And also as Amara said… The religious spectrum too.
Kehinde: The battle for gender parity is not yet won considering the past and present day Africa but there is significant difference from the past and the present day. For instance, in the past, education was meant for the male folks alone and this was evident in some literary works like Buchi Emecheta’s Joys of Motherhood in which the boys are considered for education first because they are ‘boys’ also of mention here is the fact that a woman is regarded as not having any child at all in case the child given birth to is a girl.
But now regarding the education of the female folks, a lot has changed.
About the giving birth to girls now, some men do marry another wife either secretly or openly for the purpose of giving birth to a male child because.
Also if a woman was yet to conceive and birth a child in marriage, it is her fault but there’s a turnaround now… A woman is also expected to cater for ‘her’ family in the sense that she’s expected to take care of babies including washing of babies clothes, bathing the baby, waking up in the middle of the night to feed the baby as well as cook and wash for the husband because she’s a woman and all these she must do without complaining because she’s a woman.
There are even husbands that don’t like carrying babies at all.
Before and now, women were and are still being discriminated against in politics. Further in some parts of our dear country for instance they are not allowed to inherit properties either that of their late husband or their dad. The argument is in the sense that the privileges have always been there for the men.
Bisola: I’d say that there have been lots of improvement but the discrimination is still present. It is almost inevitable in some places in Africa because it’s their a cultural belief and almost impossible to stop. But it will continue to reduce with more awareness
MojolaOluwa: Isn’t the argument a bit lopsided considering the fact that gender includes male and female and most gender equality advocates usually focus more on the women folk. What about the men?
Bisola: Yeah…it is because they believe and have the wrong notion that women are always victims. In cases like this. Even our laws reflect this.
MojolaOluwa: Quite true
Abby: Actually I don’t think it is.. Considering it all started with the women folks being belittled…. Abused and used….. And there’s quite a few issues regarding the male gender in that aspect…. It has always majorly been about the women….I grew up where we all are girls but are not considered children because of our gender…thus ended up being raised in a polygamous home in the search for ‘a child’ – the male.
MojolaOluwa: Wow, that’ll lead to the next question. Has any one of you guys ever experienced gender based discrimination or do you know anyone who has? Could you share with us?
Kehinde: Yes I have. I got myself involved in a particular project. And as a result I was to meet with someone, a man to discuss about the furtherance of the project, when he saw me for the very first time, he exclaimed ‘so you are a girl! Highly surprised and slightly disappointed at the same time.
Bisola: Can’t recall if I have. It should have happened …We are in the world and in Nigeria *lol*. It happens a lot.
Abby: Oh yes…. I have….just mentioned one up there….being called stupid and not seen as a human because of my gender….
Being asked to serve the younger one as if he we’re older because of his age…. Being told that he will one day become the president and we will all wait on him to eat… Being beaten up for him because he is not respected being the male…. I could say more… But I don’t want to resurrect these feelings…. It’s quite emotional… Growing up like that… Makes you feel unwanted…
Another example is…. Me playing the drums… I play the drums…. But back at home…. I wasn’t encouraged because I am a girl….. I really love it…but…no encouragement or acknowledgement. I was on the verge of giving up on drums. But when I got here….I was really encouraged… They were all wowed that a girl could do that… And I can testify that I am much better….
MojolaOluwa: That’s great news. I guess gender discrimination is also a function of the environment one finds oneself. I’d like to ask; don’t you get worried that women are shooting themselves in the leg? For instance, a friend once reported some man as saying oh, women want equality? Well let them open the car door for themselves, carry their own bags, carry the heavy stuff usually left for men and all. Moreover a woman, a lawyer once even said gender equality activists are causing more problems than bargained for. Now men have fought for and won themselves paternity leave from work because women first fought for maternity leave. In the light of these, do you think the push for gender equality will eventually boomerang and defeat its own purpose?
Abby: Well I’m positive it wouldn’t. Because in the end, the truth will always prevail. Because sometimes, people don’t just want hear the truth. They’d rather settle for what they are comfortable with…
Bisola: I think what women should focus or fight for is equity. It is a wiser step than equality. Men and women are different though they are both human beings. A man cannot be a woman. A woman cannot be a man. No man is the same. No woman is the same.
We are all unique beings and constitute a body made of different parts performing different roles. Both men and women were made to fulfill unique goals. They have joint and several (different) roles/responsibilities.
Same way all men are not the same…And shouldn’t be treated equally…A note of warning though- this does not translate to being treated lower than another man. Being different or not equal to another doesn’t necessary translate to being weak. You can treat two people differently and both ways can still be positive.
Imagine there was an argument in a home as regards where a TV should be placed so everyone can see clearly. Considering the fact that the members of the family are of different height s…Each person’s height should be considered in order to determine where to place the TV….That’s equity. It’s objective.
MojolaOluwa: I must say you have really preempted the discourse. (laugh)
Kehinde: Women are not in any way shooting themselves in the leg by voicing out
Bisola: that’s the more reason we should be concerned about fairness
Mojolaoluwa: D’accord. But have you ever been in a situation where you felt or thought you’d have been better off a man?
MojolaOluwa: Wow. You guys must be exceptional. Because I presume that even in an African setting, women are brought up to look down on themselves and look up to men in a way.
Bisola: Nah..I enjoy being female. More importantly because I was taught right to love myself. But I think so many people feel that way probably, based on personal experience of gender based discrimination.
Abby: Oh yes….as a child to my father. I thought I’d be better off as a male…Maybe he’ll love me more, and stop treating me and my sisters the way he does…..
I even started dressing up as a boy…. Doing things usually left for the boys….I was trying to please him…living as a man
MojolaOluwa: That’s a lot of hard work dear. Quick question, equality or equity?
Abby: For me…. I think equity…. There should be fairness and justice in the way people are treated…. And it should not be based on their gender.
MojolaOluwa: Do you think the few women given a chance in a man’s world, world over have represented the women folk well enough or done them a disservice?
Abby: Well I think some have represented well….
Bisola: Yeah, they’ve done very well
MojolaOluwa: Are there culturally defined gender roles that are non negotiable and will never change no matter what? Let’s talk about them if any
Bisola: Hmmm there are several… But I think they are negotiable depending on the circumstance. Remember I stated earlier that we are one…We are a body and each of us represent different parts. A woman can support or take up a man’s role when he is weak or incapable for one reason or the other and otherwise. They are expected work together. Imagine a situation where a woman is married to a blind man? The woman here has to do so much to keep her home. They are a team.
Abby: I think the idea that women belong in the kitchen. In some cases, there’s quite some understanding…. But as Bisola said.. People are different…. Male are different individually and vice versa….so it differs.
MojolaOluwa: Are there some socially defined gender roles that’ll never change no matter what?
Abby: Uhm….can’t really think of any….
Bisola: Gender roles… In a relationship such as marriage… With both male and female. One person has take the lead role that doesn’t necessarily mean the leader is better than the other but it’s necessary for order. In a successful team of people….you would always find a leader.
A woman is expected to be submissive to her husband (the man). This suggests the man takes the lead role here. I must say here that I do not refer to the traditional concept of a leader but the modern concept of a leader.
This does not suggest the man is better than the woman or should manipulate and control the woman. A leader is not the controller or the manipulator.
Amara: Yes, some little things might never change. Things like opening the door for a lady, holding her hands while she comes down the stairs, pulling out the seat for her to sit etc
Abby: Also, as Bisola said, concerning marriage, women should be submissive thus men should take leadership role but that doesn’t belittle the woman in any way, leaders actually serve, not control or take advantage of the other party.
MojolaOluwa: Are there some biologically defined gender roles that’ll never change no matter what?
Abby: oh yes… carrying the baby,(laughs), pregnancy…
Amara: Oh yes! A man would never menstruate, he would never carry babies and he would never breast feed… Under normal circumstances
MojolaOluwa: What’s the future of the women folk? Equality or Equity?
Abby: Positively… Equity
Amara: Personally, I think the future of women is equity because come what may, as hard as we try to fight it, men would never give in to equality. I think it’s even better off that way
MojolaOLuwa: I totally agree with you.
MojolaOluwa: To sum it up, what’s your own idea of feminism?
Bisola: Feminism, to me is the fight for success and effectiveness in the world (starting with smaller groups such as family, organisations and so on) by giving women opportunities to express themselves and use their gifts and talent to make the world a better. It’s a fight for a better world.
Women are very special and sometimes not given the opportunity to take up major roles or offices.
Abby: My idea of feminism is treating the men and women folks just and fairly, especially the women folks. Without being biased. And most importantly, not being gender biased.
Women should not be viewed as a sex object… A kitchen machinery… A baby making factory, a CEO in cleaning the house spotless and doing that alone… The only one left to care for the child (the man also has a role to play), slave to the man, a lesser being (some male dogs are well-treated than women)….I could go on….
We deserve more…. To live out our full potentials; the gifts embedded in us by the dispenser of gifts, who give gifts without being biased. And not caring what gender it because “male and female; He created them” in His image.
MojolaOluwa: Wow, it’s a wrap. Thanks a lot ladies. I do hope this little drop of ours makes a difference in the ocean of bettering the lot of the women folk.
Abby: And I’m so glad and honoured to be part of this forum and discussion.
Thank you MojolaOluwa for the invite.
And thank you all for the contribution. I learned a lot.
Amara: Bimbo Thank you. I gained so much.
MojolaOluwa: thank you all ladies.