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Friday, 9 September 2011


Gender equality drive was elevated to a very unimaginable height by most female chauvinists, charlatans and sincere women activists who met under the umbrella of the United Nation’s organization the year of our Lord (1995) in Beijing China for an International Women Conference. On the home front in Nigeria, we are constantly bombarded by women activists and even charlatans who are seeking for gender equality and what they call women socio-economic empowerment.

Most women activists believed that women need to be appointed to head strategic positions especially where decision or Government policies and programmes are made and implemented. Some extremists among these activists have gone as far as propounding the unacceptable philosophy that, ‘what a man can do, a woman can do even better’.

This is the same as saying that feminism or female activism is a reactionary creation- a quest for matrilineal society as opposed to the present patrilineal world. As an unbiased and objective writer I am not writing to project the position of the male activists or chauvinists. My aim is to reflect on the workable strategies for actualizing a sound, functional effective and objective women socio-economic empowerment. This in my thinking may provide the intellectual base for the wife of the President Mrs. Patience Jonathan to vigorously campaign for the economic emancipation of the Nigerian women.

Most sincerely committed women activists are opposed to any move which will seek to establish the so –called matrilineal society. Doctor Mrs. Catherine Obianuju Acholonu, a former lecturer at the Alvan Ikoku College of Education Owerri, Imo state is one of the many distinguished women activists who are opposed to extremism in their quest for gender equality. Doctor Acholonu who is a leading author of several philosophical books affirmed that; “what I think the women are asking for is equal opportunity in the society, at jobs, in the offices, in the homes and other places. They (women activists) want to have the freedom to come and go, they don’t want to feel restricted. But we cannot accept extremists like those that exist in Europe and America where women have relinquished the responsibility of motherhood and marriages-They want to be men – do what men do, have licentious, sexual freedom, and tear down tradition by going to ask for men’s hands in marriage. These are extremes... we don’t want that, women and men must exist side by side, each complementing the other and doing that there should be understanding and social tolerance. We should reject anti-male syndrome and attitudes, and the tendency or readiness to brand men chauvinists… all this brutish mutual hostility is totally unnecessary”.

Doctor Catherine further affirmed that the idea of gender equality is something that should be understood and not stated because when it is stated it creates confrontational stances; but if understood and one act from that understanding – that basically not one is interior or superior, there would be no problem. In the past our mothers controlled their homes and their husbands without talking about it. And they succeeded. You see, we have to admit that God endowed women with certain intuitive qualities which are not the privilege of many and which they use to guard family. Once danger comes any mother knows whether her child is threatened; or if the husband is entering into a fruitless venture, most women know it. And infact the man lives long who listen to the good advice of a good wife. But it is not necessary for women to go about it and throwing their weight around, because when they do so, their husbands will reject them and their ideas outright and no one gains from that. Actually there are lots of cultural changes that are needed, but culture though dynamic is a slow ox – and usually not very rapid. It takes time to change. But change it must and does….”

Another versatile scholar and lecturer at the University of Nigeria Nsukka, Enugu state, Mrs. Regina Eya said that “… Biologically there are obvious basic differences between men and women and nothing can change that culturally, the society emphasizes the biological differences from childhood and thereby causes the resultant role played by the different sexes. It is contradictory to teach our growing daughters to dress like a girl, eat like a girl, sit like a girl, act like a girl, walk like a girl, while we turn around and tell the world we want to be like men”.

Eya further wrote that; “A man needs a woman to a fellow man and vice versa. Women should be happy to be women. The man should endeavor to recognize and appreciate the specific traits of woman hood”.
A lot of other erudite scholars and women activists have appealed to their fellow women to remain resolute in their determination to play their traditional roles as mothers and women in the society.

The federal ministry of Women Affairs in collaboration with the nation’s ministry of health should be fully involved in the rehabilitation of our moribund family health facilities in almost all the rural communities in Nigeria. Additionally, the federal and state ministries of Agriculture and rural development should design and implement result oriented measures and projects aimed at economically empowering the womenfolk who are actively involve in farming activities which sustain nearly sixty percent of our populace.

The federal, state and local government areas in Nigeria should create the enabling environments for women to participate in our collective quest for nation building and development. The registered political parties must encourage women participation in politics in order to assist in the realization of political empowerment of the women. It is salutary that the wife of the President Mrs. Patience Goodluck actually made attempt to financially assist some women political office seekers prior to the 2011 general elections. This gesture may amount to tokenism but again the question to be asked is why the political terrain has been made out of reach for most women because of the capital intensive nature of electioneering without an effective institution to check reckless abuse of political finance laws.  The rampant cases of sexual harassments in our educational institution and places of work must be checked and brought to a logical end by ensuring that errant teachers caught in the act are sternly punished. If you ask me I will advise the coming administration in Nigeria to ensure gender parity in the appointment of key officials that will run the various ministries and agencies so that Nigeria can proudly join the rest of the civilized World in celebrating real and genuine women empowerment devoid of empty rhetoric.

This is my understanding of the quest for women empowerment.

+ Onwubiko is with Human Rights Writers’ Association of Nigeria,
    Suite A37 Maitama Office Complex, FHA, Maitama, Abuja.  


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